Last modified 15.3.2011 at 13:19
More trees than people
Text and photos: Laura Myllykoski
Finland is known as the land of forests and lakes. Due to Finland's scarce population one can enjoy the diversity of nature and the real wilderness quite easily. Nowadays nature especially in Lapland has become a growing attraction for tourists.
Ylläs is a typical fell with its top covered by rocks, sedges and dwarf-shrubs. On the lowland there seem to be treeless bogs among the forest areas.
It's a sunny day in January. The air is brisk and although the sun will set at around 3.30 pm the day's still a bit longer than a month ago. The fresh fallen snow is already printed with spoor of squirrels, hares and some unidentified small rodents. This is the perfect winter day.
Even though the location of Finland can be compared to the latitudes of Alaska and Central Siberia the North Atlantic Current brings enough warm air with it to keep the climate much more bearable. There are no polar bears in Finland and it is not considered ”normal” to be living in an igloo.
Green combined with blue
About 10 000 years ago there was no terrestrial life in Finland because of the ongoing ice age. Since then matters have fortunately changed. At the moment Finland is the most forested country in Europe with more than two thirds of its area being covered by forests. Finnish terrain is also ruled by lakes and rivers which cover nearly one tenth of the area. Thus the landscape varies a lot.
Even though Finland can be considered a flat country there are fells in Lapland, some of them reaching even high above the tree line. Some of the fells are exploited as skiing resorts but most of them are still untouched and popular among the hikers.
The coastline of Finland is dotted with islands. The archipelago consisting of these isles is one of the most labyrinth-like archipelagos in the whole world. There have been estimated to be about 95 000 islands on the Finnish coast though most of them are just islets and such which are mostly used by different kinds of sea-birds and seals.
Creatures of the woods
Since there are four distinctively different seasons in Finland all of the species living here must be adapted to live with the change. The forests mainly consist of pine trees, spruces and birches because for example oaks and maples can't cope with the conditions except in the southern parts of the country.
The Finnish ecosystem is also a home to about 60 different species of mammals and more than 430 species of birds. The most known wild animals residing in Finland are perhaps the large predators such as the brown bear, wolf, lynx and wolverine but don't worry, they are rarely seen near inhabited areas. In the early 1900’s the number of these often feared creatures decreased as they were hunted even to the verge of extinction but in the recent decades their populations have been deliberately encouraged to recover.
Other common wild animals that can be seen even near cities are hares, squirrels, elks, foxes and such. All of the reindeer seen in Finland are semi-domesticated as they generally get to roam free even though they are considered livestock and have owners. And what comes to Rudolph (the red-nosed reindeer that is), well, he's owned by Santa Claus, the one living in Korvatunturi, of course.