Finland is a large, sparsely inhabited country. Though there is a high concentration of dwellings and economic activities along the southern coast of the country, industrial activity is distributed all over the country especially wood and pulp industry (since ca. 75% of the country is covered by forests) and mining activities. Finland has politically initiated the Northern Dimension policy within the EU in order to ensure the homogeneous environmentally-friendly development of the northern European territories including north-eastern Russia. Finnish economic competitiveness and growth as well as the well being of citizens all over the country depends on a smooth, safe and environmentally–friendly transport system. The Finnish weather is marked by strongly varying conditions in wintertime. Westerly winds bring snow, rain and sleet at temperature close to zero, i.e., the most critical for slippery conditions on roads and with problems linked to snow drift on roads and rail tracks. They alternate with high-pressure systems centred over Russia resulting in temperature as low as -30-40 degrees, which are also a challenge for transport infrastructures with breakdown of materials. The regional policy of Finland is also to keep the whole territory occupied and developed, by keeping up economical activities, transport networks and improving employment. For instance, a new sector of development of the northernmost Finnish province of Lapland is winter tourism with the Santa Claus village, winter sport resorts and snow trekking. This implies tailored weather forecasts for the mountainous Lapland areas as well as avalanche risk monitoring and warnings. Therefore, the SNAPS project will enable further development of these activities to ensure regional development in all areas of Finland.

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