Film night: Longinoja, from gutter to creek

Among European river menders, the restoration of Longinoja brook has become a textbook example of local activism persuading local communities and public bodies alike to start valuing a little urban stream again.

Flowing through the Finnish city of Helsinki, this important sea-trout spawning tributary of the Vantaanjoki River was historically dredged and otherwise modified in its increasingly urbanised environment.

But since 2001, with support from the city authorities, the voluntary Longinoja project has included reintroducing gravel, rocks and woody material, restoring pools and riffles, improving fish passage, planting trees – all the familiar Trout in the Town elements of turning a straightened gutter back into a naturally-functioning stream.

The results have been impressive, with annual fry and smolt surveys finding up to 350 trout of varying age classes in 100 metres of the stream where spawning gravels have been restored.

And thanks to all this hard work, driven by local people like Juha Salonen, ‘Longinoja is most likely the most famous creek in Finland’, hosting visitors from all over the world for river walks and traditional campfire coffee.

This is not the open gutter it used to be. This is now our trout creek, our trout creek that flows in our backyard. That is like the biggest thanks, and the greatest reward of this work’.

Update: since we shared this film a few nights ago, it’s been announced that the Longinoja project has won the Finnish Biodiversity Award 2017-2018.

Massive congratulations to Juha and all the Longinoja urban river mending team!

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