Only about ten kilometres south of the centre of Imatra, there is a rocky forest called Kaikkallio, which provides a naturally developed rock formation known as “hiidenkirkko”, or “the devil’s church” – a significant tourist attraction for hikers willing to enjoy the nature trails in the region. One of the local nature lovers informed us about a great, old forest that was for sale, and this led to a deal between the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation and the heirs of a man named Juho Rossi. Just before Christmas in 2013, the Kaikkallio forest of over 17 hectares became our property. We warmly welcomed this acquisition because only a half per cent of the South Karelian forests have been placed under protection.
Two thirds of the Kaikkallio forest is approximately hundred years old, made up of a grove-like forest lying almost in its natural state with a tree stand labelled by variety. At the top of the hill, we see pine trees dominating the landscape with spruces being the most common trees elsewhere along with individual birches, pines, and aspens growing among them. The forest has remained intact for several decades.
With its cliffs and clefts, the Kaikkallio rock forms the heart of the forest landscape. The trees growing in its vicinity are tall and mighty; in fact, the oldest forest in the region is standing right there on this rocky surface and its immediate surroundings. There is plenty of decayed wood appearing in the forest, provided also by the younger sections of the tree stand.
The forest becomes younger when you move closer to the edge, the western side being dominated by deciduous trees and the southern one by spruces. In the south and southeast, the terrain turns into a valley with a meandering river lined by deciduous trees running within its scope.
Kaikkallio is the 45th conservation area of the foundation and the third one in the South Karelia region.