A long and varied career
SyVillan luonto- ja virkistyspalvelut began operations in 2015. It was founded by Hannu Raitio, PhD., a trained biologist with a colourful career spanning forest sciences, research, teaching, and information management. At the end of his career, he headed a major merger project that resulted in the creation of Luke, the Natural Resources Institute Finland. Before Luke was set up, the Finnish Partnership for Research on Natural Resources and the Environment LYNET was created on Raitio’s initiative, and made official by government decree in 2009. Nowadays it is known by the name TULANET, a cooperation body of ten Finnish research institutes. As Director-General of Metla, he sat on the advisory committees and boards of directors of numerous different organisations. As Luke’s operations got under way, Raitio moved from his position of Director-General of Metla to Director-General of Luke, from which he retired in summer 2015.
Raitio began his career as a researcher working with micronutrient deficiencies in forest trees, later widening his scope to the effects of impurities in the air on the health of trees, and to monitoring the health of forests. He worked for several years as the national coordinator for forest programmes in the UN and the EU.
Raitio’s doctoral thesis concerned the decline of pine sapling stands in Hämeenkangas. For his thesis, he thoroughly familiarised himself with the history of the Hämeenkangas and Pohjankangas areas and their use of forests. Together with the STUK Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, he was the first in Finland to carry out radioecological research in a forest environment after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Similarly, collaboration between forest research and medicine began on his initiative. He has promoted research into the interaction between forests and human health in Finland and worldwide as the coordinator for IUFRO’s Task Force programme “Forest and Human Health” and for ten years as the Vice President of the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine INFOM. While developing his company, he familiarised himself with and trained in Green Care operations and as a Forest Mind instructor.
Hannu Raitio has a sizeable list of publications. He has published scientific articles in international environment and forest industry publications, along with several hundred other articles and reports.
Hannu Raitio is a senior lecturer in plant ecology at the University of Oulu. He received the Emanuel Merck award for work to benefit Finnish forests in 2000, and was decorated with a Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland in 2002 and a Knight First Class of the Order of the White Rose of Finland in 2015. In 2019, the University of Oulu named him as their alumnus of the year.
Local history as a hobby
Hannu Raitio has been active in the development of his own local area. As a schoolchild he was a guide at the Parkano Local History Museum. He is a founding member of the Parkano local history association Parkano Seura ry, and was the first Chair and a long-standing member of the board of directors. He also represented Parkano Seura ry in committees appointed by the town when Parkano established a forestry museum. For this reason, he was awarded the Finnish Local Heritage Federation’s gold award in 2017. He has also acted as chair of Parkanon matkailu ry, where he promoted tourism collaboration between Parkano and neighbouring municipalities. He was also named Parkano resident of the year in 2013.
Since retiring from his position as Director-General of the research institute and becoming a tourism industry entrepreneur, he has actively worked to promote the establishment and operations of the Lauhanvuori - Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark.