Harakka Nature Centre
Harakka Nature Centre and carbon neutral Harakka
The Harakka Nature Centre offers visitors encounters with nature, activities, and information on the Baltic Sea, maritime nature and sustainable living. The Nature Centre operates in historical surroundings on the magnificent Harakka (“magpie”) Island featuring extraordinarily rich flora and bird species. Only a short distance from the Kaivopuisto Park, Harakka takes visitors to delicate archipelago nature that overlooks open sea.
A nature trail snakes through the Harakka Island. On rocks, the trail is marked with white triangles painted on the stone. The nature trail allows visitors to explore the island independently, and they can pick up a map of the island and a bird guide from the Nature Centre headquarters. The southern tip of the island is protected and closed for visitors during the bird nesting period from 1 April to 10 August (the protected area is marked with a rope that closes that part of the island).
An exceptionally large number of birds nest on the island. The birds protect their nests and nestlings. Visitors are advised to move quietly and to stay on the marked paths. Some of the paths are closed from time to time because of bird nesting. The closed sections are marked with tape. There is a bird watching point on the border of the protected area, complete with a board displaying the birds nesting on the island. In winter the trail has information boards on wintertime nature, but the trail has no winter maintenance.
The Harakka Nature Centre offers activities and education. There are various environmental education services for schools and daycare centres. The summertime programme includes free-of-charge nature excursions, island adventures, public events, exhibitions, information on the utilization of renewable energy and displays of renewable energy forms.
- Photo exhibition The Internal Scenery of the Sea – Underwater Photos, by Visa Hietalahti, Casemate III
- The brackish water aquariums in the aquarium house display life in the seaweed zone – fish, algae, crustaceans and other sea life. The fish of the Gulf of Finland are presented with real-size models.
- An exhibition on the history of Harakka and Harakka nature in a covered area at the entrance to the island
Some of the exhibitions are difficult to reach.
Events in Harakka
All events in Harakka are free of charge and require no registration. A guided tour of the island is organized from 14:00–15:00 every Sunday from May to September. The tour guides visitors through the rich nature, history and present of the island.
Carbon neutral Harakka
The Harakka Nature Centre has shifted to renewable energy. This shift has cut the buildings’ electricity use and carbon footprint by 60 percent.
What does a solar collector or a solar powered fan look like? What size of wind turbine is appropriate for a single-family house? You can see these devices in operation along the Harakka renewable-energy and nature trail.
Take a group to a guided tour of Harakka! You can book a guide to take you to the island’s nature or to give you a presentation on the island’s energy displays, or you can book an island adventure for children. Contact information of guides is available from the Environment services' Environmental protection unit. The fees are EUR 240 , EUR 300 on Sunday.
The culture and leisure sector rents the library, catering space and auditorium in the Harakka main building for meetings and gatherings.
The library is suitable for meetings. Its original interior is well preserved. The auditorium is suitable for lectures. It is equipped with a slide projector, overhead projector and screen, and an old two-part chalkboard. The auditorium has wireless internet access. A casual gathering space with a small kitchen is also available for rent. The kitchen has a microwave oven and coffee maker.
Contact for space rental and catering: Saara Metsämäki, saarametsamaki(at)hotmail.com, tel. +358 40 413 4355
Boat service to Harakka
The island is served by a boat at about 30 minute intervals. The boat departs from the Ullanlinna pier at Kaivopuisto. The return fare is EUR 5 (EUR 2 for children).