People behind the scenes: Tupuna Kovanen

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There are boring and even more boring places, and then there’s a bureau. That is, however, where I have landed and spent most of my working days. I’m Tupuna, senior adviser, working at the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) of North Ostrobothnia in Oulu. My professional background is that of a terrestrial biologist (botanist) from Oulu University. After a few years doing different kinds of field and project work all around Northern Finland, I ended up in environmental administration, where I’ve had a twenty-year long career. Mainly, I work with issues concerning species and habitat protection, managing and supervising of Natura 2000 network and other protected areas, and all kinds of projects and administrative work concerning nature conservation. My main task is to be an advocate for nature values, since as you know, they cannot protect themselves.

Even though a bureau is a dull place, a work of a bureaucrat is not dull at all. When I was a young biologist, I thought working in the office is sooo boring: computers, regulations and acts. Oh no, not for me! But years in administration have taught me that laws and regulations are part of our everyday life. Whatever happens out there in the nature is a matter for a nature conservation bureaucrat. Sometimes, I even get out of the office for short field trips, but mostly my work is done on computer and in the meeting rooms. The best and worst of this job is that there are always dozens of matters, both small and large, going on at the same time. Seldomly, is there a peaceful working day when you can concentrate on one matter. Our clients vary from old ladies worried about starving hedgehogs to experts, directors and politicians preparing strategies and regulations. Sometimes, I feel I should be an expert in all fields of biology as well as an engineer, geologist, forester, director, lawyer, social worker, psychologist and even a priest.

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This is a never-ending story of learning, which I enjoy. One of my latest learning processes have been that of sea inventories. As a terrestrial biologist, it has been absolutely fascinating to see what the marine biologists and geologists find and do, and that’s even without mentioning our modelling specialists. (I confess, I only use computers like I use cars. It’s enough that they are quick enough and do their job.)

In my spare time you can find me walking or training our dog, doing volunteer work for my dog club, horseback riding, or just in the city enjoying different happenings. I have many interests. The only thing is that there is too little time to do all the things I would like to. Piles of books are just waiting to be read, movies to be watched, records to be listened to and courses to attend.

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However, sometimes life does calm down. Last summer, I took part in the SEAmBOTH project group excursion to the Perämeri national park. I had an astonishing moment standing in the rain in still water in an orange rescue suit, trying to identify species with water binoculars. In that short moment, I Ieft the busy world behind and started to understand why it is so enchanting to be under the water. Maybe, some day, I will do my diving course.

Season’s greetings to all!

Tupuna Kovanen

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