The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation recently acquired for protection a forest area by the side of a popular outdoor recreation route in the Liperi region of North Karelia, approximately 20 kilometres from Joensuu. The forest is almost entirely abundant with trees, being made up of an old pine stand growing on a heath of lingonberry and blueberry type.
The Kotimetsä forest was on sale by an agent, available through a competitive bidding, and the entire area becoming exposed to a cutting was a scenario that hung by a hair. The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation managed to win the competitive bidding, but only just, through its special fund-raising campaign arranged on the initiative of those living around the forest, donations coming from a number of local and more remote nature lovers. For the first time in the foundation’s history, a short-term and allocated fund-raising campaign produced enough funds on top of the basic price of the tree stand to achieve a winning bid.
The purchased area covers less than 12 hectares and includes the majority, i.e. 1.3 hectares, of the beautiful Hovatta pond along with its quagmires on the shore. The proportion of forests in Kotisalo is approximately 10.5 hectares. The surrounding terrain is versatile with its ridges and provides living environments for the large blue butterfly, among others. The diversity of the forest is increased here and there by the deciduous trees of the more exuberant ground, the multitude of layers, and the forming of dead pine trees. More exuberant forests with aspens appear especially north of the Hovatta pond. It is known that the majority of the Kotisalo forest has not been exposed to cuttings since the 1950s. A minor thinning was conducted in a small section of the site. Some of the trees in Kotisalo are at least 120 years old. After the wartimes, some trees were picked, and at those sites, the oldest hold-overs are clearly older, at least 150-year-old trees that have been allowed to grow there in peace.
The route that goes through this old pine forest belongs to the 65-kilometre long Kinttupolut network built and maintained by the municipality of Liperi. The maintenance will be continued in co-operation with the municipality. The maintenance of the trail will be allowed by the conservation decision even though the entire forest is permanently protected in accordance with the law.