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The city of Lahti in Finland is “giving nature a seat at the table” by inviting scenes of wilderness to their video meetings during the pandemic. After being named the European Green Capital of 2021 by the E.U. commission, the city has come up with a new service to allow its employees to bring nature into their Microsoft Teams video calls through two nature cameras placed into the local woodlands.
Forest and lake views are now common on video conferences in the Finnish city of Lahti, thanks to a new city-run Lahti Green Screen service that uses real-time footage taken using cameras placed into nearby woodlands. These cameras are set up in collaboration with well-known naturalist and Lahti-native Petteri Saario, and will be operating until the end of October this year.
Lahti Green Screen is now available to use for all everyday meetings and even city council meetings that are held virtually amid Covid-19 restrictions, part of the city’s trial to see how the presence of nature could positively affect the employees’ workdays.
Time spent in nature can help improve concentration, memory and the ability to perform challenging tasks.Dr. Riikka Puhakka, Nature-Based Solutions Researcher, University of Helsinki
“Popular nature cameras have created new ways of observing nature. People may think that spending working hours watching online videos is inappropriate, but with Lahti Green Screen the video stream is integrated into your working environment,” commented Saario.
The idea for the service is based on a growing body of research showing that connections to nature could boost decision-making, and make it more likely for people to make sustainable, environmentally-conscious choices.
“Studies have shown that spending time in nature improves mood and lessens anxiety and negative feelings. Time spent in nature can help improve concentration, memory and the ability to perform challenging tasks,” explained Dr. Riikka Puhakka, a scientist in the University of Helsinki’s Nature-based solutions research group at the Lahti University Campus.
The city has already used the Green Screen to bring local nature scenes into several events, including its water-themed panel discussion held during E.U. Green Week, as part of the European Dialogue for Sustainable Cities series.
When we take care of our connection to nature, we make it easier for ourselves to be more sustainable in our actions.Saara Vauramo, Program Director, Lahti European Green Capital
“We like to bring lots of local flavour into our Green Capital events. Finnish nature is unique and preserving it is the driver behind our environmental action,” said Saara Vauramo, the program director of Lahti European Green Capital.
“In Lahti, we’re never far from nature, but solutions like this can increase wellbeing in places and situations where access to nature isn’t a given. And when we take care of our connection to nature, we make it easier for ourselves to be more sustainable in our actions,” Vauramo continued, adding that Lahti hopes to set a leading example for other European cities.
It has already committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2025, far earlier than the 2050 deadline outlined in the Paris agreement, and has launched a range of ambitious regeneration campaigns, from the restoration of its lakes and marshlands to implementing sustainable forestry practices across the region.
“As remote work increasingly becomes the norm, Lahti hopes that services like the Green Screen become a part of workdays spent in front of the screen,” said the city in a statement.
All images courtesy of Lahti City.