Nature as a solution for immigrant integration in Nordic countries

Press release 2018-08-20 at 8:00
Immigration to the Nordic region has increased fast during recent decades. Large portion of the newcomers are asylum seekers. These developments promote the need for revisiting and developing new approaches for the successful immigrant integration. According to a Nordic team of researchers, nature-based integration can offer a new perspective to meet these challenges.
A beatiful Finnish lake landscape
Nature supports integration by offering new experiences and improving immigrant´s health and well-being. In this photo, immigrants familiarize with landscapes of National Park Koli, Finland. Photo by Aleksandra Riki.

Interest in nature-based solutions for immigrant integration has expanded rapidly in Nordic countries. Various NGOs and community groups have already developed practices to introduce the newcomers to Nordic nature and outdoor recreation. “The results of these practices have been promising. Nature and urban green spaces provide an important supplement or even alternative to the built environments and indoor spaces where integration practices often take place” states Kati Pitkänen, senior researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute.

The results of the Nordic cooperation on nature-based integration are presented in the new report “Defining Nature-based integration – perspectives and practices from the Nordic countries” and brochure “Nature-based integration – a solution for immigrant integration in Nordic countries” released today. In addition to key research findings, the report includes 16 descriptions from practitioners in Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway that illustrate the various ways nature is used for integration across these countries.

The researchers analyzed and compared experiences of nature-based integration practices in Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. They identified several ways nature can support the integration of immigrants. “Nature promotes social interactions and creation of positive place attachment, provides mentally and physically stimulating experiences and improves immigrants’ capabilities through education, learning of job skills and improved health and well-being” Sandra Gentin, teaching assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen, summarizes the key benefits of nature for integration.

Nature is an important asset to the citizens of Nordic countries. It is a part of the cultural identity and key to Nordic society used for work, recreation, education, health care and welfare, reminds Anna María Pálsdóttir, researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Nordic countries have the potential of becoming forerunners in nature-based integration if the benefits of nature in integration are more widely acknowledged and systematically taken advantage of.

The report was compiled by a team of researchers from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Norwegian Nature Research Institute (NINA). The report has been enabled by support from the Nordic Council of Ministers (Terrestrial Ecosystem Group TEG and the Department of Knowledge and Welfare)

Further information

Kati Pitkänen, senior researcher, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE),, +358 295 251 101

Sandra Gentin, teaching assistant professor, University of Copenhagen (UCPH),, +45 9356 5535

Anna María Pálsdóttir, researcher, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU),, +46 40 415536


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