A lush riparian forest protected in Ivalo, Lapland

Late summer The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation bought 20 hectares of land near the town of Ivalo in northern Lapland. The lush forest on the bank of the Ivalojoki River is currently being protected.

The forest will be named Kuusimukka according to the Lappish word mukka meaning a bend in a river or road, and kuusi, which stands for Norway spruce. The spruce trees growing at Kuusimukka belong to one of the northernmost Norway spruces dominated forests in Finland. Part of the Kuusimukka forest can also be described as herb-rich owing to the fertilizing impact of the Ivalojoki River.

The history of the river been written in the soil of Kuusimukka. The Ivalojoki River has changed its course several times leaving behind narrow sausage-like lakes and mire patches. One of such lakes borders the area on its western edge.

On a visit to the area in early July a large flock of two-barred crossbills were spotted eating the seeds of the candle spruces of Kuusimukka. A northern hawk-owl was also seen hiding amongst the downy birches near the riverside.

PHOTOGRAPH: Ari-Pekka Auvinen

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The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation, which promotes the protection of Finnish nature, is concerned about the slow progress of forest protection in Finland. The situation is illustrated well by the fact that the Foundation is not even able to acquire and protect all the areas of old forest that are for sale publicly. The main challenge is the lack of funding.
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