Field Journal: Valkmusa National Park

The promise of extensive bogs and rare moths and butterflies drew me to my final destination on my tour of Finland’s National Parks. It had begun with a visit north to Syöte National Park where I spent a few days exploring with a small group. After returning to Helsinki, I set out on a four day solo trip first visiting Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park and Kurjenrahka National Park to the east and then driving back towards Helsinki to Nuuksio National Park and the Haltia Nature Center. My final day found me east of Helsinki, near the Russian border, along the Gulf of Finland in Kotka to visit Valkmusa National Park.

Only a small section of Valkmusa National Park is accessible by trail and there are only two trail…

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Field Journal: Nuuksio National Park

The third day of my solo tour of Finland’s National Parks brought me back close to Helsinki when I visited Nuuksio National Park. The afternoon before, I drove to Haltia – the Finnish Nature Center, located in Nuuksio National Park, to visit the exhibits and browse in the shop for badges of the parks I’d already visited. The center is small, but presents a complete experience of the nature of Finland with multimedia displays. A long diorama of Finnish nature greets visitors before opening into a large room with a wide screen that plays videos of Finland’s many habitats throughout the seasons. It feels like you’re snowshoeing through a winter forest one moment before being transported to a rocky summer shore the next. An…

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Field Journal: Kurjenrahka National Park

At the end of the first day of my solo tour of Finland’s National Parks, I drove from Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park, a little south to Kurjenrahka National Park. Although the days are long in Finland during the summer, I only had limited time to explore one of the many trails of Kurjenrahka, and I chose the short 2 km Karpalopolku circle trail that began near the Kurjenpesä nature hut.

The trail meandered through pine forest, skirting the edge of the mire, the bright green of it shining through the trunks of the trees in the late afternoon sun. The path led through an open grassy meadow with birch trees, towered over by pines, creating an enclosed space, before moving back into the forest. At the end of the trail, I…

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Field Journal: Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park

This summer when I was in Finland, I had the opportunity to do some solo exploring from Helsinki so I planned out a four day trip that would take me to as many of Finland’s national parks. My first destination was Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park, a two and a half hour drive northwest from Helsinki. Some of Finland’s national parks are large and you could spend days walking the various trails, but others are smaller. Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park is the latter. It only has just one, 2 km long loop trail with a couple of short offshoots from it.

Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park is set in the middle of farmland, one of the last remaining patches of mire habitat in the area. When I arrived there was one other car in the parking…

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Field Journal: Syöte National Park

Located on the divide between the Finnish Lakeland and the Lapland lies Syöte National Park. The name ‘Syöte’ comes from the ancient Sami language, meaning ‘blessed’, and the indigenous Sami people have used the land for thousands of years. Traces of ancient Sami use can still be found in the park, but there are many other traces of land use from more recent times.

In the 1500’s, people began settling in the area, bringing their slash-and-burn tradition with them. They began clearing the land of trees to use as agriculture, often times accidentally setting forests…

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Field Journal: Dragons of Finland

I admit, Finland may not be the most popular country to visit for dragonflies. Most people head to warmer locations like Costa Rica which has 270 species or Australia which has 320 species. Finland meanwhile, has a mere 62 species of dragonflies and damselflies. Although I didn’t expect to see many, if any, dragonflies last time I visited Finland, I was treated to an abundance of dragons and even a swarm over a boulder lined pond. Finding a lot of dragonflies in Finland, especially north in the Lapland, was surprising, but perhaps it should not have been.

Yes Finland is cold, with a long dark winter and short summer. But this country has something special that makes it well worth the short breeding season for dragonflies: many lakes and mires. After forests, mires cover the most amount of Finland, although less…

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