baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

©2017 copyright christoph hase

Patvinsuo National Park , Finland

The park (105 km²) has bogs, former managed forest and slash and burn areas but also primeval forest. The oldest Opens internal link in current window Picea abies (Norway spruce) stands grow on Autiovaara and Säästö-Maksimansaari, and the oldest Opens internal link in current window Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) stands on Hietavaara. Altogether there are less than 10 tree species. You may have difficulties distinguishing between Opens internal link in current window Betula pendula (silver birch) and Opens internal link in current window B. pubescens (downy birch) but other tree species are very easy to identify.

The natural average fire interval prior to any significant human influence has been 170–240 years 1 . However, parts of the forest area had extensive slash and burn cultivation for hundreds of years ². Fire sometimes escaped from slash and burn to the surrounding primeval forests: thus, fire interval during the slash and burn period was only 37–59 years ². The forest fires were ground fires of low intensity that killed P. abies and Betula but spared mature P. sylvestris ² due to their thick bark 3 . There have been no fires since the end of the slash and burn era in the closing years of the 19 th century, which also saw the introduction of fire prevention². If fire prevention continues, the forest will develop to complete P. abies dominance². The park lies at 145–275 m elevation. Annual precipitation is 563 mm and average annual temperature 2.1°C ².

Off-trail hiking is quite easy, though impeded in places by bogs, boggy forests and low cliffs. There are also trails through some primeval forest areas. Camping is only allowed at designated sites.

References :

1 Pitkänen, A. et al. (2003): Opens external link in new window Holocene fire history of middle boreal pine forest sites in eastern Finland . Annales Botanici Fennici Vol. 40 , No. 1, pp. 15-33.

2 Lehtonen , H., Huttunen , P. & Zetterberg, P. (1996): Influence of man on forest fire frequency in North Karelia, Finland, as evidenced by fire scars on Scots pines. Annales Botanici Fennici Vol. 33 , No. 4, pp. 257-263.

3 Agee, J. K. (1998): Fire and pine ecosystems. In Richardson, D. M. (ed.): Ecology and Biogeography of Pinus. Cambridge.

Official site :

Video clip:

Wind fall in Picea abies (Norway spruce) forest. Also Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine, reddish trunk on the left), Betula pubescens (downy birch, centre background with white trunk) and small Sorbus aucuparia (European rowan, right). Elev. 170 m.
Picea abies (Norway spruce) forest on Autiovaara at 180 m. Also Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine, centre background with rough bark) and Betula pendula (silver birch, left with white trunk).
Picea abies (Norway spruce) forest on Autiovaara at 180 m. Also Populus tremula (common aspen) snag, left centre, and Sorbus aucuparia (European rowan) foliage, right.
Picea abies (Norway spruce) forest on Rauvunvaara at 220 m. Also Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine, reddish trunks in the background) and Betula pendula (silver birch, background right with whitish trunk).