The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation purchased a 14-hectare forest in Kiiminki, Oulu, late in 2021. The forest is located in an area notable for its calcareous soils. Due to abundance lime the soils are rich in nutrients and the area hosts many rare species of vascular plants, mushrooms, and mosses.
“A speciality of the future Vehmaansuo protected area is very rich growth of lady’s-slipper orchids, Cypripedium calceolus. Such a high density of this species can scarcely be found anywhere else in Finland. Last summer more than one thousand flowers were counted in a spruce mire not more than 0.2 hectares in area” says Ari-Pekka Auvinen, conservation officer of Finnish Natural heritage Foundation.
When in bloom the lady’s-slipper orchid is one of the most conspicuous plant species of the Kiiminki limestone area. Many of the rare species are much less visible, however. One such species growing in the Vehmaansuo forest is the eggleaf twayblade, Neottia ovata. A detailed inventory of the forest will be made in the coming years.
At the vicinity of the Vehmaansuo forest, 200 metres away at nearest, lies the Kiiminki limestone Natura 2000 area. For over 20 years the regional ELY Centre has strived to protect the area by buying forest properties and paying subsidies for giving up forestry operations.
“It’s outstanding that the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation bought this area from an open sale. The forest’s protection complements the conservation of the Kiiminki limestone Natura 2000 area, which teems with threatened species”, says Eero Melantie head of the Nature and Land Use unit of the ELY Centre of Northern Ostrobothnia.
The Vehmaansuo forest has been under conventional forestry and it has been drained by digging forest ditches, for example. This summer the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation will look into how the natural recovery of the forest can be accelerated and the living conditions of rare plant species improved.
The Vehmaansuo forest is the 145th area protected by the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation in the whole country and the 10th in Northern Ostrobothnia. More than 3 600 hectares has been protected by Foundation in total in Finland.
(Picture: Seppo Kemppainen/Vastavalo)