A swamp of over 60 hectares under protection on the Halsua-Perho border

The swamp campaign shared by the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation and the Ostrobothnia conservation district has once again led to results. With the financial support of the Ostrobothnia district, the foundation acquired an undrained swamp of over 60 hectares along with some nearby forest in Halsua. The area is located northeast of the Penninkijoki river, already conserved, close to the wide Natura area of Hangasneva-Säästöpiirinneva. One of the boundary markers reaches the borderline with Perho.

The area, which is to be named Virvatuli (’Will-o'-the-wisp’), is conveniently located beyond the roads. In order to reach the area, one must travel over a kilometer of a rough terrain or cross the Penninkijoki river on the west side.

- The location far away from the roads is one of the reasons the area has remained in peace, Jukka Syrjälä, who sold the place to us, explains. The area had been owned by Eija and Jukka Syrjälä from Veteli since 2002 with only minor pruning being conducted in the area during their ownership. The previous owner had also decided to let the place flourish in its natural state.

Over half of the area is made of swamp, the rest being composed of forest. The swamp is practically undrained since the southern arm of the old and shallow ditch running through the area has become overgrown with the upper section being easy to block with voluntary work. The swamp itself – approximately 33 hectares – belongs to the valuable forest environments. The trees are not very old, except for a few emergent trees, but the forest has the structure of one lying in its natural state with its many species. It conceals approximately one hectare of habitats important to diversity. There is some decayed pinewood appearing in the forest as well as some rotten logs of birches. An ancient wildfire has left plenty of burned tree stumps in the area along with burnmarks on the bark. The diversity of the heaths is labelled by raised shorelines appearing as stone groupings known as “fields of the devil.”

In the Virvatuli area, there have been several observations made of the Finnish forest reindeer, which appears as herds of as many as a hundred individuals. In the summertime, the females like to pasture with their cubs by swamps because it is there they find nourishment suitable for them. Virvatuli is the 47th conservation area of the foundation and the third one in Ostrobothnia.

The swamp campaign shared by the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation and the Ostrobothnia conservation district was launched in the spring of 2012. During the first year, we already managed to acquire the invaluable 37-hectare Heinineva bird swamp for conservation in Alajärvi. Thanks to the latest purchase, the total area protected during the course of the campaign will rise to almost a hundred hectares. Outside the campaign, the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation has managed to protect approximately 150 hectares of swamp.

Photo: Risto Sauso.