The basics of construction were taught as incidental in the wider aims of learning about turf-building through building with turf. Questions were answered through instruction, so the builder was learning whilst doing. This is a practical approach which suited our group of enthusiastic and driven individuals. With an abundance of written and specific information available about the methods of turf building, it was more accessible to simply give it a go without being too precious about the exactitudes required in other construction methods.
Day 1 of turf building at Tyrfingsstaðir with Helgi Sigurðsson of Fornverk ehf: Our brief for the week
was to help with construction of “The Smokehouse”, a small rectangular building made of simple
round pole timbers and to be used for meat smoking in the future. This was part of a complex of turf
buildings belonging to the family who still worked the land, the matriarch Kristin having been born in
the main turf house before moving into the modern house now standing close by. The turf buildings
have since become a place for tourists to visit and for students of turf such as ourselves to practice
The training courses that do exist and are developing will probably suffice to educate enough
people to retain political will and technical understanding to continue this for future generations.
I hope that turf building techniques can be encouraged and somehow integrated with modern building
techniques to grow the cultural identity and the important historic link that turf has to the Iceland
people. I suspect that it is only through a modern reinvention that turf will in anyway become anything
more than a museum piece which will sadly loose relevance in time and its importance in the
landscape will be lost.
Sunday 9th September, Day 6 Ecology of mires and peatlands in Finnish forestry and Forest industry and Local development.(SB) On Sunday we met Senior Lecturer Pirjo Puustjärvi at the University of Applied Sciences having given Miia the day off! Natural regeneration on the bog We were off to see the bog and mire habitats of […]
Following our exciting excursions into the culture of Tampere we drove to collect Eveliina and spend an evening at Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park which in ways paralleled the frenetic and the calm of Tampere. Our first stop was at a viewing platform where within moments we all had our binoculars trained on a marsh harrier. When Eveliina succeeded in dragging us away from this platform we walked to the viewing tower to await the cranes…
Environmental protection is a relatively new concept in Finland with the ministry for environment being formed in 1982 following decades of escalating protests but as with many countries the probable driving force to actual change can be linked to the economic value of forestry being threatened when international players such as Greenpeace and the WWF stepped into boycott Finish timber.
Finns consider forests as urban parks. The area we visited is well used, with a café and plenty of runners and walkers around. The woodland is managed by the City of Tampere municipality and it is managed for the people who use it. The City of Tampere municipality have a land use plan, and as part of that the local development is managed, as well as operations such as the assessment of the effect of tree cutting. We noted plenty of litter bins but hardly any littering on the ground. There is little bit of graffiti and no dog poo bags left in the woods! Our Scottish urban site managers have been very impressed by the lack of litter compared to Scotland.
While we were there we sat in on a class with children who had additional support needs. The class were learning about Finland’s Everyman’s Right, the code for the outdoors and something the Finnish people are very proud of. Eva, our host, said that this is the basis for outdoor education in Finland; to learn to respect the countryside from the first explorations into it.
The 70-80 year old forest we visited was owned, like many forests in Finland, by a variety of private owners, in this instance including Tampere City Council. Dr Jenni Kokkarinen, lecturer at Tampere University of Applied Sciences provided the group with an introduction to forestry practices in Finland. To all intent and purposes Finland’s timber industry features four main tree species – Norway spruce (Picea abies), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), silver birch (Betula pendula) and aspen (Populus tremula).
The next stop at Seitseminen was a visit to a patch of old growth forest – perhaps the catalyst for the Park’s creation – and a chance to see what “original” forest might look like in Finland. Surprisingly, we found it strikingly similar to non-old growth forest! Low species diversity in the canopy (Scots pine, Norway spruce, aspen, silver birch, grey alder), all the trees were telegraph pole straight with no large side branches and hardly any “characterful” trees, as we get in many Scottish woods (e.g. Granny pines).