Suomen Latu - The Finnish Central Association for Recreational
Sports and Outdoor Activities – is a promoter of outdoor
activities, an expert in hiking and an organization open to all.
Suomen Latu has more than 75,000 members - children, teenagers,
families, adults and seniors – who are active in the more than
200 member associations.
The main objective of Suomen Latu has always been to increase
Finnish people’s interest in exercise as well as developing
possibilities for outdoor conditioning and recreational
exercise. Nowadays, guarding everyman’s right to freedom and the
outdoors has become more and more important.
Other subject matters that are addressed include - promoting
outdoor and health beneficial exercise, making outdoor
activities and exercise more accessible in municipalities, the
quantity and quality of hiking routes and walkways, providing
opportunities for children and teenagers for healthy
recreational activities, involving families in community based
exercise and increasing well being in society.
In their vision, Suomen Latu and its member associations are
known as established experts in outdoor activities and hiking,
and as an open-to-all citizens’ organization advocating the
cause of all outdoor enthusiasts. In 2015 the Finnish people
will use more time on outdoor activities which is more versatile
than today. In the future, according to Eki Karlsson, the
Director of Suomen Latu, the organization will concentrate even
more on children, teenagers and families – not forgetting the
seniors. Also engaging young adults in the organizations
operations and activities is vital. “We will continue promoting
regular, year-round exercise and outdoor activities for people
of all ages”, Eki Karlsson says.
Although Suomen Latu mainly works in Finland, since 1997 steps
towards becoming an INGO has been taken. During 1997-2001 Suomen
Latu carried out a development cooperation project in
Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania. During the project the
Tanzania and Kilimanjaro National Parks and Suomen Latu
constructed a trekking trail with facilities to the peak of
Mount Kilimanjaro. The trekking route still remains very popular
among the tourists from all over the world.
Since 2006 Suomen Latu has worked with the Nepalese NGO, NETIF,
to start an outdoor activities related development cooperation
program in the Kathmandu Valley. The project proposal was
submitted to the Finnish inistry for the Foreign Affairs in May
2007. The Ministry funded Suomen Latu for the year 2008, which
helped in funding the study for the program
Nepal Environment and Tourism Initiative Foundation is a
non-governmental organization founded in 2006 by a group of
dedicated environmentalists and tourism entrepreneurs,
registered in 2008 with bases in Kathmandu and Dhulikhel, Nepal.
The NGO works for an economically winning combination of tourism
and pristine environment, complementing each other towards
better and sustainable tourism enterprises, particularly the
well being of local communities through opportunities that
tourism offers and the natural environment attracts. NETIF
facilitates the transition of rural tourism sectors towards
dynamic environmental considerations.
The meeting to found Suomen Latu was held in Helsinki at the Old
Student House, 28th January 1938. The first President of the
organization was Mr. Toivo Aro and the vice president Mr. Lauri
“Tahko Pihkala”- a famous Finnish sportsman.
As Mr Pihkala proposed, the new and independent organization was
named Suomen Latu, in which ‘Latu’ (Latu is track in English) stands
for promotion of cross country skiing activities and paving the way
for all national sports without the aspect of competition. In the
organizations rules competing in sports was only allowed if the goal
was to promote the organization and its activities