Fundamentally I’m a researcher and educator. I find it important to pass the information about research results to general public and students. Basically, there are three pillars in my activities:  generation of new knowledge; educating students, and communication with stakeholders. All of them come together in UArctic Thematic networks.

Speaking about my background connected to the new thematic network, I’m an ecologist and specialize in agricultural entomology. Recently I have been involved in research caused by terrible insect pests influencing vast territories of cultivated plants. We are looking for ways to help pollinators, which are needed for crops, flowers and plants, including berries.

Another aspect, which brought me to this thematic field, is cultivation of strawberries. It’s very popular in Finland, and therefore it’s important to have control of diseases affecting the berries. It’s very easy to broaden this concept to wild berries, mushrooms, and other natural products, which are in the center of our network’s attention. This topic is also an issue for industrial enterprises, social scientists and even law specialists. Legal issues are being considered when we speak about migrant workers, who often are hired as pickers in strawberry cultivation. Berry industry creates additional working places, and here is a wide scope of issues to be discussed as well. Wild berries are a little bit different. Nobody owns them legally, only 10-15% of wild berries is being gathered, while the rest remains in forests. What measures can be made to change these numbers?  This problematic should be addressed also to researchers, stakeholders, policy makers and general public.

As for our thematic network activities, it started a year ago, when we had a research proposal to the Academy of Finland. Our group included berry trade experts and entomologists. Our proposal was not accepted, but we got through this an efficient team together, and made very good contacts with colleagues from Oulu and the University of Tromso. Since we had the common idea, a plan for joint activities, and the whole international team, we decided to propose creating a Thematic Network. It’s clear that we will welcome other relevant specialists interested in our activities.  I haven’t approached yet other TNs, but it would be interesting to share our plans and experiences with e.g. the TN on “Northern food security”, we are ready for a dialogue and collaboration.

Heikki Hokkanen