Introduction and Finnish Forestry Overview Over two-thirds of Finland is forest cover. This expanse of forest cover may be one of the reasons most of the population seems to be well connected to nature, because most people live within reach of nature. Not only do people live near nature, but many are able to own a small piece of it as much of the forested area is owned by private persons. Accessibility is also important because many people are able to use the forest, even if they do not own any forests themselves. Subject to certain rules and regulations, people are able to use the forest and the wildlife within it as a renewable resource for wood products, hunting and foraging. Above all, most Finnish people strongly value the link between being in nature and good health.
Whilst this is just one example of cultural heritage as green infrastructure, we encountered numerous others. From traditional barrel making to organic production of medicinal herbs (linked to rigorous scientific analysis and development); from an environment that invites you to swim in every lake, river and seashore… …to foraged berries and fresh meals cooked with fresh food every day – our daily experiences and memories made were based on the health and integrity of the environment around us and its place in culture and history. Without this we would not have found the social cohesion in our group that came about from sitting by the river in the evenings blethering away, listening for wolf calls at night, or stargazing under the Milky Way.
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 building.
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 Lakkasuo peatlands which have never been drained and are owned by the University. We ensured that our heads were covered up and headed off into the woods on the duck boards we’d come to associate with Finland’s watery environment. We walked through spruce and alder woodlands as the trees (Spruce and Scots Pine) became less dense and the bogs and mires (blanket bog) more obvious – to a depth of 4metres! Blanket bog is one of the rarest habitats in the world. Finland is home to 10,000,000 hectares of different bog habitats, created by glacial activity over the millennia. It was explained that normally we’d hardly be able to even see the duck boards but due to the drought conditions of this year’s summer we could see all of them. They were initially put in in 1965 by students otherwise we’d not be able to […]
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).
North-west Poland (West Pomerania) and east Germany 10 – 16 June 2018 Sites Czarnocin Odra Delta Nature Park Dąbskie Lake (nr Szczecin) Woliński National Park Wolin Lower Odra Landscape Park Namyślin (near Kostryń) Nationalpark Unteres Odertal Ujście Warty (Mouth of Warta River) National Park Kaleńsko (tern rafts) Birds Greylag Goose Anser anser Recorded at Odra Delta Nature Park and Ujście Warty. Large moulting population present at latter site, where a number were caught, ringed and neck-collared (yellow with four black letters) on 15th. When flightless they hide in willow scrub to avoid the attentions of the White-tailed Eagles. Re-sightings have been recorded wintering in Italy and France, and breeding birds in the Czec Republic. Mostly quite pink-billed, though apparently they vary and are likely to be intermediate between anser and rubrirostris. Mute Swan Cygnus olor Common and widespread Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus One at Dąbskie Lake, and one at Szczecin Lagoon. Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca Pair (or maybe two) at Kaleńsko. Garganey Spatuala querquedula At Odra Delta Nature Park, Ujście Warty, and Kaleńsko. Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata At Nationalpark Unteres Odertal. Gadwall Mareca strepera Dąbskie Lake and other sites. Eurasian Wigeon Mareca Penelope Double figures at Odra Delta Nature Park. […]