In recent years, Helsinki has opened many of its islands, formerly used by the military, for visitors. Vasikkasaari can be reached by a public water bus or by a private boat. New structures have been built in order to facilitate day trips and to protect the delicate nature of the archipelago.
The Vasikkasaari island was opened for public in 2019 as part of the Helsinki Maritime Strategy. A nature trail and visiting structures were designed to protect the fragile ecosystem of the island. Also new technology is used for surveillance of nature and visitor numbers, and for sharing information about natural features.Vasikkasaari is situated close to Suomenlinna Fortress Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also historical military structures on Vasikkasaari, but the island is just a 15 minute water bus ride away from the city centre, which is worth visiting for its nature, too.
In the design work for the visitor structures, extra attention was put on welcoming visitors with as little disruption to the delicate nature as possible. For example, woodchips were used to enforce the path and a bug hotel fence was created from branches left over from the works. Along the trail there is a small shelter and a picnic terrace with a table and a bench for visitors. The structures were designed as a part of the Urban Eco Islands project, which aims at developing ways to monitor and prevent erosion of the natural sites as visitor numbers increase. Vasikkasaari and an island in Tallinn are serving as pilots in the project.