The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation has purchased an area of dense forest in Marttila, Southwest Finland, which will be designated as a permanently protected area. The original name of the area, Palomäki, will be changed to Kaunilanmaa according to the wishes of the previous owners of the estate. Kaunilanmaa will be the eleventh area to be protected by the foundation in Southwest Finland.
Kaunilanmaa, which is more than six hectares in size, consists of a dense forest that has remained completely untouched for several decades. The eastern part of the area consists of spruce trees that are over 100 years old. The western part on the other hand is slightly more diverse; in addition to pine, which is the dominant species, the area also features birch, spruce, and aspen. Judging by the age of the pines and the burnt tree stumps, the western part of the area may have suffered a wildfire about 80–90 years ago.
The fact that the forest has been undisturbed for several decades (at least 50 years according to the previous owners) has contributed to the area’s diversity; on the western side there is an abundance of decayed wood and hollow trees, as well as ant nests. In the middle of the forest there is a small undrained peatland area that features a large number of windfalls and decayed trees.
At Kaunilanmaa visitors can enjoy the sound of trees creaking in the wind and encounter a nesting willow tit (Parus montanus) or crested tit (Parus cristatus), both of which have become endangered species due to the loss of old-growth forests.
The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation was able to purchase the Kauninlanmaa site after receiving a donation for the full purchase price from an anonymous donor. The donor wrote the following in an email to Conservation Director Anneli Jussila:
“Forests and trees mean peace, connection, and grounding to me. Every time I’m in the woods I feel like I’m part of something bigger. Things fall into perspective and it’s easier to breathe. I remember what is important in life and where I come from.
I believe that forests do not exist for us humans, but that all living things have intrinsic value. Protecting forests allows us to preserve not only trees but also all kinds of other wildlife, such as birds, insects, plants, fungi, and berries.
For a long time now I have been thinking about deforestation and the loss of biodiversity and what I could do about it. A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation. I am grateful that I found a reliable actor through whom I can protect wildlife in such a concrete way. I wish more people would do the same.“