The Itäkangas forest, situated in the eastern parts of Pudasjärvi, is a remnant of the original natural forests of Koillismaa, the northeastern part of Northern Ostrobothnia. Eight hectares of the property that was acquired by the Finnish Natural Heritage Fund in October 2017, and that covers 13.4 hectares in total, consists spruce dominated stands of nearly 200 years of age. The rest of the property, slightly over five hectares, was included as a buffer to the old growth forest. It consists of young to middle aged stands that have previously been managed.
The old growth forest bears no marks of forest management. Reindeer browse the area, but right over the height that reindeer can reach standing on snow, hangs a dense growth of fructicose lichnes (Usnea and Bryoria spp.) on the spruce branches. There is a considerable amount of dead trees. The polypore and agaric mushroom flora of Itäkangas has not been surveyed comprehensively. Preliminary observations point towards great species diversity.
The three-toed woodpecker has been observed in the forest as have been the red crossbill and pine grosbeak, among others. The Siberian jays that inhabit the area nearby undoubtedly visit Itäkangas too, but have not been seen there yet.
The Itäkangas forest was a part of a greater state-owned land area until the 1950s. A parcel of land stretching all the way to the highway 20 from Oulu to Kuusamo was then annexed as “supplementary land” to the Itälä farm on the shore of the nearby Pintamo lake. The parts of the forest that were close to the highway were harvested and helped the farm to survive economically, but the far-end of the annexed land was never cut. There’s approximately a one kilometer walk from the highway to the Itäkangas protected area.