Kuosku Reindeer Forests An Outstanding Example of Boreal Old Growth

Snowchange has worked with the families of Kuosku, Savukoski in Eastern Lapland to secure over 120 hectares of old growth forests and large peatland areas into rewilding and conservation. The sites are in close proximity to European-level protected areas.

Marjavaara OGF is one of the sites in the recent breakthrough. It is over 75 hectare natural forest in Finnish reindeer herding village of Kuosku, Eastern Lapland. The sites totaling 120 hectares include outstanding examples of north boreal old growth forests and peatlands.

Marjavaara OGF has approximately 100-200-years-old pine and spruce forest and intact peatlands. It is an iconic and significant site of northern boreal forests, mostly unaffected by human activities. The site is important for reindeer herding activities.

Marjavaara's old forest contains approx. 100-160-year-old pine and spruce forest and intact bogs. The area is a very representative entity of the almost untouched northern boreal forest.

It is a large, unified piece of a fine mosaic of stream banks, floodplains and forest. Human influence is also low in the forests, the trees are on average 98 years old. The oldest patterns, 160 years old, are small in size, but there are several hectares of 140-150-year-old pine trees on the plot.

The shores of the stream is swampy and there are more hardwoods, otherwise the area is very coniferous. Johkanoja flows into Pyhäjoki, along which there are some ditching. The area supports the natural values of Pyhäjoki and the condition of the Tenniöjoki catchment area.

In the vicinity of Marjavaara's old forest is the Maltio Strict IUCN Protected Area and the Joutsitunturi-Koukkutunturi Nature 2000 area. In total, these protected areas have a size of 30,000 hectares.

Maltio Strict IUCN Protected Area is located in a watershed area. The nature types are diverse: aapa peatland plains, extensive forests between stony slope forests and small streams.

The forests of Joutsitunturi are the natural lush groves of the fell slopes. Pine trees are of different ages and structures. Sirrikumpu is an area of approximately 250 ha that burned in the 1960s and is dominated by birch trees. About half of Koukkutunturi's forests are natural spruces over 200 years old. Most of the pines are over 200 years old. On the eastern slope of Koukkutunturi there are younger pine trees of different structures.

Additionally Vuospajanaapa at appr. 40 hectares is a completely intact area of swamp and natural forest.

Of special note are the 120-year old birch patterns along Kuoskunoja stream which are a really nice lush streamside biotope. Farther from the stream there are sparse trees or open undrained swamp. On the western edge of the rim structures, a really nice watery neva peatland.

The southern edge of the plot is bordered by a state-drained swamp. In the 1980s sedge species which were found to be growing indicate lushness also on the side of the open moor.

Vuospajaanaapa supports the goals of the 12,785-hectare Joutsenaava Natura 2000 area near (FI1301404). The area is a large, uniform marsh area, a flat basin in terms of topography, where the marshes have developed to be very ridged and stringy. Wide raven zones along the banks of the Aatsinkijoki and its tributaries, which cross the area, are also characteristic.
Joutsenaapa is mainly low- and medium-nutrient, the largest marsh areas are in Kuppiaava. The neva area is almost completely covered with water. There have been extensive flooded meadows along the banks of streams and rivers.

These sites would have been logged otherwise. Now they are secure. Their protection is the life work of two reindeer herders, Yrjö Kuosku (passed at 95 years of age) and Pentti Pulska who recently also passed. They never allowed these sites to be clear cut.



Rune Singing Village of Ryökkylä and Sub-Arctic Pärjänjoki River in Focus in May

In May traditional Karelian village of Ryökkylä on lake Mekrijärvi is in focus. Additionally a sub-Arctic Pärjänjoki river in the Ii catchment receives support. Management fisheries will commence on Sääperi once the ice leaves.

At the end of April a 8,81 hectare site of Iivananaho, located in the traditional Karelian village of Ryökkylä on lake Mekrijärvi joined Landscape Rewilding Programme. Ryökkylä is one of the rune singing villages of North Karelia that preserved the oral poetry until 1900s.

Iivananaho is centrally located and consists of traditional buildings, field biotopes and boreal forests. It is connected to the larger 661 hectare Korvunniemi protected area. Iivananaho will be one of the locations of the Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions in September.

A second important focus area for the Landscape Rewilding Programme in April was located in the Sub-Arctic river of Pärjänjoki. Over 20 hectares of primary boreal forests, including over 100 year old forests and peatlands were added to the programme in this sub-catchment of the Ii basin.



New Arctic Peatland Added

Heinäjänkä at 22 hectares has joined the programme. It supports efforts in Western Lapland.

Heinäjänkä Peatland has many natural biotopes left. It has 107-year old Scots Pine and over 100-years-old Spruce habitats, intact peatlands and springs that are on the site.

The site supports efforts to preserve Meltaus and Ounasjoki basin.



Louhineva, a major peatlands complex in Western Finland, Protected

Louhineva located in the lake Kuivasjärvi basin, Parkano, Finland, has been formally protected by the state agencies and Snowchange. Louhineva was restored between 2019-2024 and is a major ptarmigan habitat, southernmost in Finland.

Louhineva is one of the last rather preserved peatland complexes in Western Finland. It was slated for peat mining in 2000s but Snowchange was able to secure the site in 2019. Between 2019-24 the ditched parts of the peatland were restored.
In March 2024 the ELY Center, regional state authority and Snowchange have agreed to formally protect 82 hectares of Louhineva. This will secure habitat for ptarmigans, falcons, cranes and many other birds, assists in water protection and also supports keeping carbon on the ground. Local community needs, such as moose hunting will continue on the site.
Snowchange expresses their concern on the several wind power projects surrounding Louhineva. The site has electric wires in the center of the peatland that could not be protected as the state authorities expect the needs of the wind power generation to grow rapidly. Snowchange is concerned regarding the cumulative impacts of these projects and hopes that for its part Louhineva alleviates some of the pressure on the wildlife, habitats and interconnected, recovering landscapes of Kuivasjärvi.



New Sub-Arctic Boreal Forest Joins from Sodankylä

A new major forest-peatland area has joined LRP. Takala Peatland and Forest is a mostly intact aapa mire peatland with an intact OGF forest. However some parts of the site have been logged in 2010s. It is an important site for local reindeer herding, as well as for Arctic waders and migratory birds.

The old growth forest on the site has many trees over 165 years old making it an important oasis of natural forest ecosystem. Takala Peatland and Forest supports the conservation targets of the nearby Näätävuoma-Sotkavuoma (FI1300604) Nature 2000, 10675 ha. The Näätävuoma-Sotkavuoma area is a large aapa swamp area.
The marsh interconnection is diverse: barren bogs, open meadows and lush meadows. In the surroundings of Raasujärvi and Teikkualammi, there are old hay fields as well as on the western edge of Näätävuoma. Kuusikko-Näätäselkä has a small gravel collection area.
There is a lot of decaying wood in the uncut forests of Näätäselkä. The area has over 200-year-old spruce trees and younger deciduous forests. There are a total of 2,370 ha of wooded bogs, about a fifth of the area, and 2,380 ha of marshes, a fifth of the total area. There are 3 ha of springs and spring marshes and about 100 ha of forest meadows. The Näätävuoma-Sotkavuoma area belongs to the aapas of southern Peräpohjola.
Takala Peatland and Forest has aapa mire plants as well as a good stock of juniper, dwarf birch, sedges. In the summer time it is an important Arctic bird nesting area.



Kuumunsuo Peatland Opens 2024

Kuumunsuo peatland and forest complex is the first significant site to be added to the LRP in 2024. It supports efforts to protect habitat for wild forest reindeer.

Kuumunsuo is 44 hectare site of peatlands and OGF forests, including 169 years old timber forest. It is close to Jonkerinsalo EU Nature site of close to 4000 hectares. Site protects and enables habitat for a range of species and has outstanding biodiversity values.



Arctic Report Card and Snowchange, End to 2023

2023 ends with a Snowchange collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - USA on the Arctic Report Card. Warmest summer on record, but also highlights to the rewilding programme.

NOAA’s 2023 Arctic Report Card documents new records showing that human-caused warming of the air, ocean and land is affecting people, ecosystems and communities across the Arctic region, which is heating up faster than any other part of the world.

Summer surface air temperatures during 2023 were the warmest ever observed in the Arctic, while the highest point on Greenland’s ice sheet experienced melting for only the fifth time in the 34-year record. Overall, it was the Arctic’s sixth-warmest year on record. Sea ice extent continued to decline, with the last 17 Septembers now registering as the lowest on record. These records followed two years when unprecedented high abundance of sockeye salmon in western Alaska’s Bristol Bay contrasted with record-low Chinook and chum salmon that led to fishery closures on the Yukon River and other Bering Sea tributaries. 

“The overriding message from this year’s report card is that the time for action is now,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. “NOAA and our federal partners have ramped up our support and collaboration with state, tribal and local communities to help build climate resilience. At the same time, we as a nation and global community must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are driving these changes.”

Over the last two decades, the Finnish nonprofit Snowchange Cooperative has restored dozens of sites, positively influencing 128,000 acres (52,000 hectares) of peatlands and forest damaged by decades of industrial harvesting and forest management.

The restoration demonstrates a globally relevant climate solution that increases carbon storage, preventing greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere. The restored peatlands are also restoring water quality and bringing back fish and birds, a vital food source and draw for ecotourism.

The annual Arctic Report Card, now in its 18th year, is the work of 82 authors from 13 countries. It includes a section titled Vital Signs, that updates eight measures of physical and biological changes, four chapters on emerging issues and a special report on the 2023 summer of extreme wildfires.

Please also check out New York Times article and video about the ARC.



Home of the Bean Geese, Valkeasuo Peatland and Advancements over 1000 hectares Crown the Rewilding Autumn

The autumn work of Landscape Rewilding Programme draws close. Over 1000 hectares of restored landscapes including strict protected areas in the order of 500 hectares have expanded the rewilding targets considerably.

NABU Climate Fund in Germany, that is part of Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (the oldest and largest environment association in Germany) provided direct, substantial and breakthrough funding for the Valkeasuo peatland complex. Valkeasuo is a nationally relevant bird habitat and important climate stabilisation area. It is one of the nesting areas of the Bean Goose in Eastern Finland. In total 456 hectares of Valkeasuo will be restored in 2024, representing national level relevance.

In other Koitajoki locations, thanks to the Endangered Seascapes and Landscapes Programme, Kaitoinsuo, Rahesuo, Haravasuo and other peatlands in close vicinity of Valkeasuo were restored, in the order of 850 hectares. Out of these, over 200 hectares were strictly protected legally.
In the Sámi forest areas over 150 hectares were added to the Landscape Rewilding Programme, including some of the timberline forests. Some of the sites have never been logged. These Indigenous cultural landscapes together with the Skolt Sámi restoration efforts in lake Sevettijärvi and in the North Sámi forest of Altto-oja continued.

A 70-hectare Altto-oja forest which was partially logged in 1990s but that also contains remaining old-growth forests, was added to the Landscape Rewilding Programme in 2023 with joint management. This protects the remaining primary forest segments. Using oral histories, Indigenous knowledge (cultural indicators of good ecological quality and maintenance of key species such as aspen), and science, Snowchange and the Sámi inventoried the logged areas and developed targets for forest comeback, guided by the Sámi use of the landscape for reindeer herding and non-timber forest products. Altto-oja forest is emerging as a valuable example for how affected Sámi forests can be restored using science and Indigenous knowledge.

All in all over 1000 hectares of sites advanced the Landscape Rewilding Programme in the Autumn.



Two-year Rewilding Effort Ends in Lake Kuivasjärvi, Parkano

Landscape Rewilding Programme and Pro Kuivasjärvi association have completed their 2 year mission to restore and rewilding the lake's northern and northwestern catchment areas.

This 36,000 € effort was partially sponsored by the Pirkanmaa Center of the Environment, Transport and Commerce. The specific actions included
- Further rewilding of the Louhisuo peatland
- Water management measures to control the loading from the Alkkia peat mining complex
- Renewal of a three hectare wetland in the uppermost catchment
- Stream Kärppäluoma hydrological rapids restoration.

Pro Kuivasjärvi association reflects the potential 2024 actions over the winter.



YLE reports on the Onkamo Lake Restoration

National broadcaster YLE reports on the Snowchange efforts to restore lake Onkamo area.

National news on the Onkamo restoration have been published today. See link below.

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