A remnant of the original Koillismaa forest

Eight hectares of the original coniferous forest of Koillismaa (“the Northeastern Land”) was protected in late October when the Finnish Natural Heritage Fund purchased a piece of nearly 200 years old forest in Pintamo at the eastern edge of the municipality of Pudasjärvi. In order to make the area geometrically simpler and to create a protective buffer around the old-growth forest another five hectares of surrounding managed stands were included in the deal. In total, the new Itäkangas protected area will cover 13.4 hectares of land.

Spruces dominate the forest at Itäkangas. The individual spruce trees are lean due to heavy snow cover in winter, but not quite as lean as the real candle spruces at higher elevations. Beginning from the height that reindeer cannot reach even when standing on snow the spruce branches are covered by a dense growth of fructicose lichens. The red barks of the pines growing at the highest parts of Itäkangas may even have seen the turn of three different centuries.

There is plenty of dead and decaying wood at Itäkangas. The fauna and flora living on dead wood has not been surveyed so far, yet preliminary observations point toward a high species diversity. Of old growth forest species, the three-toed woodpecker lives in the forest. Also the Siberian jays often seen by the nearby Lake Pintamo must consider Itäkangas their home although they have not been observed there yet.

The old-growth forest of Itäkangas was a part the large state-owned land until the 1950s. At this time it was annexed to the Itätalo farm situated on the bank of Lake Pintamo. Some parts of the this larger forest holding were cut in order to assist the farm economically. However, the most remote corner of the forest remained untouched – to the delight of both species depending on old trees and people enjoying the calmness of a natural forest.

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