Browsing by Subject "rural areas"

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  • The ADELE Research Group; Saarenpää, Mika; Roslund, Marja; Puhakka, Riikka; Grönroos, Mira; Parajuli, Anirudra; Hui, Nan; Nurminen, Noora; Laitinen, Olli H.; Hyöty, Heikki; Cinek, Ondrej; Sinkkonen, Aki (2021)
    According to the hygiene and biodiversity hypotheses, increased hygiene levels and reduced contact with biodiversity can partially explain the high prevalence of immune-mediated diseases in developed countries. A disturbed commensal microbiota, especially in the gut, has been linked to multiple immune-mediated diseases. Previous studies imply that gut microbiota composition is associated with the everyday living environment and can be modified by increasing direct physical exposure to biodiverse materials. In this pilot study, the effects of rural-second-home tourism were investigated on the gut microbiota for the first time. Rural-second-home tourism, a popular form of outdoor recreation in Northern Europe, North America, and Russia, has the potential to alter the human microbiota by increasing exposure to nature and environmental microbes. The hypotheses were that the use of rural second homes is associated with differences in the gut microbiota and that the microbiota related to health benefits are more diverse or common among the rural-second-home users. Based on 16S rRNA Illumina MiSeq sequencing of stool samples from 10 urban elderly having access and 15 lacking access to a rural second home, the first hypothesis was supported: the use of rural second homes was found to be associated with lower gut microbiota diversity and RIG-I-like receptor signaling pathway levels. The second hypothesis was not supported: health-related microbiota were not more diverse or common among the second-home users. The current study encourages further research on the possible health outcomes or causes of the observed microbiological differences. Activities and diet during second-home visits, standard of equipment, surrounding environment, and length of the visits are all postulated to play a role in determining the effects of rural-second-home tourism on the gut microbiota.
  • Pitkänen, Kati; Lehtimäki, Jenni; Puhakka, Riikka (MDPI, 2020)
    International Journal Environmental Research Public Health 17 18 (2020)
    Contact with nature is associated with numerous psychological, physiological and social health and well-being benefits. Outdoor recreation, such as rural second home tourism, provides extensive exposure to the natural environment, but research around health impacts of this exposure is scattered. We review current research on health and well-being impacts of nature and discuss how the characteristics of rural second home environments and their use and users can affect these potential impacts in Finland. We discover four key issues affecting the impacts. First, health and well-being impacts depend on the users; urban people can especially benefit from rural second homes, while child development and the performance of elderly people can also be supported by contact with nature at second homes. Second, the regularity, length and season of second home visits influence the potential to receive benefits as they have an impact on the intensity of nature exposure. Third, the type and quality of second home environment affect contact with nature, such as exposure to health-supporting environmental microbes. Fourth, practices, motives and meanings modify activities and attachment and crucially affect both physical and mental well-being. We conclude that rural second homes have extensive potential to provide nature-related health and well-being benefits and further research is needed.
  • Högbacka, Riitta (2003)
    This study concentrates on the everyday life of women living in Finnish rural areas undergoing rapid changes. Who are the women living there, how are they coping and in which direction is their situation changing? Women's lives are analysed with the help of Thomas Höjrup's mode of life approach. The study looks at women's practises and attitudes concerning work, home, women's position and the countryside. Both qualitative and quantitative data are used, the emphasis being on women's thematic interviews from different rural areas. The importance of waged work has grown during the past ten years. Women are also more mobile. A large part of them have actually moved to rural areas from elsewhere. The importance of the traditional agrarian modes of life is thus diminishing, and their place is increasingly taken by newer life-modes in which the educational and occupational backgrounds of the women vary. In addition to farmwomen, rural areas now have women working off-farm, career women and in-migrants from urban areas. Different life-modes have different resources, needs, hopes and problems. The meaning of work, home, femininity and the rural, for instance, vary according to life-mode. The spheres of work and home, or public and private domains, which where intertwined in the life-modes of farmwomen and wage-working ex-farmwomen, are completely separate in life-modes with no agricultural roots. In such cases there is also growing dissatisfaction with the traditional domestic division of work. Career women's problems have to to do with the combining of motherhood and career. Urban in-migrants have new ways of viewing femininity and work. They have often had difficulties in settling in small rural communities. The emotional and active approach to the rural environment of the agrarian life-modes is also changing. Home no longer includes the larger natural surroundings. Mobility and the separation of place and social networks are typical for career women and in-migrants. Farmwomen and ex-farmwomen are tied to local social relations.
  • Matilainen, Anne; Suutari, Timo; Kattelus, Pia; Zimmerbauer, Kaj; Poranen, Terttu (Helsingin yliopisto Maaseudun tutkimus- ja koulutuskeskus, 2005)
    Reports 4
    Approximately 86 % of all the companies in Finland employ less than 4 people. Percentage can be estimated to be even higher in rural and especially in remote rural areas. Therefore it can be said that most of the rural small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), especially nature-based entrepreneurs (NBEs) can be referred to micro enterprises. There were 79 800 active farms and 64 600 small rural enterprises in 2000. That amount equals 29 % of all small rural enterprises in Finland. The number of farms is estimated to decrease radically and therefore there is a clear need for new means of livelihood and small businesses in rural areas. Characteristic for Finnish rural SMEs is also that their business is not often based on expansive business strategies. (Rantamäki-Lahtinen 2000, Statistical yearbook of Finland 2003, Maaseutupoliittinen kokonaisohjelma 2004.) Enhancing entrepreneurship, both in urban and rural areas, is one of the most important sectors in national politics in Finland. Both national and EU-programmes strive for amelioration of operational environment of SMEs. As a one major part of the development measures is promotion of the use the ICT in SMEs. The know-how in ICT technology production is on a very high level in Finland. The reason for the success has been the knowledge of effective producing. Also the ICT infrastructure is relatively good, although it is not divided equally between rural and urban areas. According to Koivumäki and Soronen’s research in 2004, 28 % of households in urban areas had an broadband connection, when in the rural areas the same figure was only 8 % (Koivumäki and Soronen 2004). Despite the relatively good infrastructure, in using the possibilities of ICT and ICT services, Finland is only on the average level in comparison with other countries. When studying the private Internet users more in detail, in 2003 there were 221 Internet connections per 1 000 inhabitants. 54,6 % of total population have used Internet and 44,6 % from weekly basis. In summer 2002 approx. 55 % of Finnish households had at least one computer at home. Also at the same time over 80 % of population aged 15–74 had a mobile phone in their own use. (Statistical yearbook of Finland 2003, Nurmela, Parjo and Ylitalo 2003). In general, over 90 % of all SMEs used Internet in 2003, even though it can be estimated that the figure is a bit smaller in rural areas. In 2003 approx. 70 % of farmers had a computer and approx. 55 % of all farmers also had an Internet connection (Kommeri 2003, Statistics Finland 2003). 63 % of rural food SMEs had the Internet connection in 2002 (Viitaharju and Lähdesmäki 2002) and over 50 % of forest owners were reported to have the Internet connection in 2004 (Sivula 2004). The most significant benefits for SMEs of the use of Internet are: saving time (possibility to manage operations easier and faster, flexibility, on-line possibilities, accessibility to updated information), saving money (related to saving the time, savings in labour and logistic operations etc.) and relating to benefits mentioned above, indifference to business location. The most used Internet services seem to be e-mail (communication), online banking and information search services. The most utilised public Internet service was in 2003 Internet service of tax administration. Approx. one third of SMEs have taken part to some kind of portals. Unfortunately portals have been mainly disappointments for entrepreneurs. On the grounds of the use of Internet, SMEs can be divided according Berg et al. (1999) into three different kind of groups: SMEs that do not utilise Internet at all (10 % in 1999), passive users of Internet (70 % in 1999) and active users of Internet (20 % in 1999). According to the latest estimations, the amount of non-users seems to be decreased, however at the same time the amount of active users has not increased. In most rural SMEs utilisation of ICT is not yet integrated to the business strategies. As barriers to ICT-utilisation in SMEs was mentioned e.g. that there was not a suitable business idea for e-business or e-services are not suitable for micro businesses. Also the lack of knowledge and skills, lack of knowledge of cost efficiency in implementation and lack of knowledge of public services hindered the use of Internet in the companies. Public services are still shattered, there are risks in data security as well as technical problems (incompatible systems). Concerning the ICT skills of rural SMEs, there has been a lot of development activities to enhance the use of ICT. The level of ICT skills is improving constantly, but there is still a long way to fluent integration of ICT to business operations. The age is one significant factor dividing the entrepreneurs to non-users/passive users and active Internet users. There have been a lot of educational courses, but they are not quite what SMEs are looking for. Also entrepreneurs’ lack of time to participate to courses is one significant barrier to learning new skills. From the methodological aspect, the role of peer group or other entrepreneur as an educator has been seen very successful. Also the continuity of the support is essential. However, as recent study about trust in e-services show, entrepreneurs don’t necessarily do a lot of benchmarking and share their experiences of ICT with their colleagues (Tiainen, Luomala, Kurki ja Mäkelä 2004). In conclusion, most of Finnish rural SMEs have not yet realised all the potential benefits offered by Internet services and the use of Internet is not yet seen as a part of business culture. At the moment SMEs use mainly more or less obligatory public external expert services (e.g. tax authorities). However, utilising widely external expert services might benefit especially the small rural SMEs, since they do not have possibilities to hire new skilled full-time staff for different business operations. Offering expert services in e-form may promote the use of external experts in remote rural SMEs (easy access to the external information), though the SMEs see that the accessibility of the services is not sufficient at the moment, products are not customer orientated enough and a support system is needed. However, before e-expert services can be fully utilised, there are more than just technical problems to be solved. The main problems seem to be in utilisation of the external knowledge in busi-ness actions and knowledge management. This necessitates new way of thinking also from the entrepreneurs and highlights the importance of entrepreneurs capability to apply the information to his/hers own business actions. At the moment there are more or less infrastructure, recourses (e.g. project funding) and even education needed available for the further adaptation of ICT technologies in rural SMEs. One of the main obstacles is the lack of ICT culture in SMEs (i.e. use of ICT as a natural part of everyday business operations and business strategies). The development of new ICT tools has been very rapid, but the business culture has not been able to keep track of technological development. Since it seems that the use of external information for business actions by using ICT technologies or otherwise is not fully integrated to rural SMEs business culture, it is relevant to gain more information of the role of information in business decisions and the SMEs’ acquisition of information through different kind of delivery mechanisms. These are some of the issues requiring attention in second phase of the project.
  • Matilainen, Anne; Zimmerbauer, Kaj; Poranen, Terttu (Helsingin yliopisto Maaseudun tutkimus- ja koulutuskeskus, 2005)
    Reports 5
    Regional literature reviews present an overview of the use of ICT in rural small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nothern Ostrobothnia and Central Finland. These two regions provide excellent examples of regions consisting mainly of rural areas, but having also well-developed urban areas. The region of Central Finland is situated according to it’s name in central part of Finland. The main city of the Central Finland region is Jyväskylä, which is influencing strongly also to the surrounding municipalities (Jyväskylä region). The population of Central Finland is very strongly concentrated to the Jyväskylä region. In 2003 over a half of the inhabitants of the Central Finland lived in this sub-region. Even though the population has been increasing in Jyväskylä region, it has decreased in every other sub-region. Northern Ostrobothnia, on the other hand, is the second northernmost province in Finland, extending across the country from the Gulf of Bothnia coast to the border with Russia. It can be regarded mostly as core or peripheral countryside. However, the principal city, Oulu, is the second most important population centre in the country after Helsinki area. The population is strongly concentrated to the Oulu region. In 2004 approx. 54 % of the total population of Northern Ostrobothnia was living in Oulu region. Both of the most important cities of these two regions have created some of their growth by concentrating on information technology and high technology relating to that. Even though there can be estimated to be some kind of lack of small business tradition in both of the regions due to their historical development, especially in rural areas the most of the companies in both regions can be defined as small or even micro enterprises. Also in both regions the there were a lot of regional variations in occupational as well as entrepreneurial structure. When reviewing the regions of Northern Ostrobothnia and Central Finland more in details concerning the utilisation of ICT in rural enterprises, they seemed to follow quite well the national trends. In Northern Ostrobothnia approx 85–90 % of the enterprices used Internet in their businesses and the figure can be estimated to be at least the same in Central Finland (national percentages being over 90). The most used Internet services seem to be e-mail (communication), online banking and information search services. The most significant benefits for SMEs of the use of Internet are: saving time (possibility to manage operations easier and faster, flexibility, on-line possibilities, accessibility to updated information), saving money (related to saving the time, savings in labour and logistic operations etc.) and relating to benefits mentioned above, indifference to business location. Improving utilisation of ICT in rural areas and SMEs is in big a role in the regional development plans in both regions. Also in both regions the expertise on ICT development is at high level. In Northern Ostrobothnia, it was estimated that already by the year 2005 almost 100 % of the inhabitants are going to have a possibility to broadband connections. In Central Finland, this process is a bit slower. As well, when studying the penetration of Internet connections or amount of computers, Northern Ostrobothnia seemed to be a bit above the national average, when in Central Finland as a region the figures were a bit below the national average. However, the variations within the regions were also significant. Despite the fact, that in both regions there are a lot of business and sector specific advisory services available for SMEs provided by national actors as well as regional development organisations, according to regional surveys, it seems that entrepreneurs do not really know of them and some of them never use these services. This effects also to the use of e-services. The majority of regional expert/advisory services are not yet, however, in e-form. According to the surveys, in both regions there seems to be a need for improving ICT skills especially among small rural SMEs. Though in both regions there are various short term courses and trainings available, somehow the supply does not seem to meet the demand and e.g. the courses have been cancelled due to the lack of participants. As anticipated the entrepreneurs in remote rural areas seem to be a bit slower integrate ICT to their business actions in general. However, the preconditions to extend the utilisation of ICT in the future also in rural areas are good. The Internet connections are getting gradually better as well as there are constantly a lot of on-going development activities in improving services and education, even though there has been some critic towards them in both regions. However, it can be stated that at the moment in both regions (as in other parts of Finland), the rural SMEs have not yet realised all the potential benefits offered by Internet services and the use of Internet is not yet seen as a part of business culture. At the moment SMEs use mainly more or less obligatory public external expert services (e.g. tax authorities). However, utilising widely external expert services might benefit especially the small rural SMEs, since they do not have possibilities to hire new skilled full-time staff for different business operations. Offering expert services in e-form may promote the use of external experts in remote rural SMEs (easy access to the external information), though the SMEs see that the accessibility of the services is not sufficient at the moment, products are not customer orientated enough and a support system is needed. However, before e-expert services can be fully utilised, there are more than just technical problems to be solved. The main problems seem to be in utilisation of the external knowledge in business actions and knowledge management. This necessitates new way of thinking also from the entrepreneurs and highlights the importance of entrepreneurs capability to apply the information to his/hers own business actions. The development of new ICT tools has been very rapid and sometimes the business culture has not been able to keep track of technological development.