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CONTRIBUTE TO RESEARCH ON FOREST RELATIONSHIPS AND PREFERENCES THROUGH GEOCACHING 

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Three researchers in the forest.

The UNITE Geotrail Research Project utilises mobile technology and a location-based game to explore individuals’ connections with forests. The project assesses the effectiveness of collecting research data through geocaching, a gamified treasure hunt. People are invited to contribute to the research by searching for geocaches on designated trails in North Karelia and Pirkanmaa. In the video below, researchers offer guidance on how to get involved.

In the video, the researchers present their study and demonstrate how to participate in the research on the Kontiolahti research trail.

Advancements in digital technologies have introduced new ways to experience forests. The UNITE Flagship Geotrail Research Project investigates the impact and influence of play on people’s forest experiences and the potential of employing technology for data collection on these experiences.

The project gathers research data from four geocaching trails. The North Karelia routes are situated in Kontiolahti and the Ruunaa National Hiking Area in Lieksa, while those in Pirkanmaa can be found in Tampere and Seitseminen National Park in Ylöjärvi and Ikaalinen. The trails are accessible through the Geocaching application, which can be downloaded for free on a phone or GPS device. At each cache, questions about the cache’s surroundings can be answered anonymously.

Three researchers from the University of Eastern Finland are participating in the project. Philip Chambers, a doctoral researcher, is exploring the applications of gamification in forest planning contexts and the potential of game technology in research data collection. Project researchers Tuulikki Halla and Harri Silvennoinen are using the data to study people’s relationships with forests and landscape preferences.

– We are investigating how individuals perceive forest environments that have undergone various treatments. This information will aid us in understanding how individuals experience and respond to changes in forest landscapes, explains Silvennoinen.

The UNITE Geotrail Research Project is part of the Research Council of Finland’s Flagship Programme UNITE, which examines the interplay between forests, people, and machines. The research project is conducted in close cooperation with the Finnish Outdoor Association and the Geocaching Association of Finland (Suomen Latu and Geonautit ry). The research trails have been established with the permission of landowners. All participants are encouraged to act responsibly and avoid disturbing the environment while playing.