550 forest protection areas

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In 2008, Espoo celebrated its 550th anniversary. As part of the festivities, Espoo decided, as a result of a council initiative, to protect 550 hectares of forest in different parts of the City – a decision, which was later recognised with an environmental award. In 2009-2010, the City established 17 new nature reserves, which will conserve 550 hectares of species-rich nature for present and future generations.

550 forest protection areas:

Lakeasuo and Janssoninnotko

The Lakeasuo nature reserve is located east of the Solvalla Sports Institute. The area is some 32 ha in size and covered with rocky pine stands, old coniferous forests and various bogs and mires. In the centre lies the beautiful Lakeasuo mire, which is part of the nationally valuable Käkilampi-Lakeasuo conservation area.

Owing to its size and range of habitats, the reserve supports a diverse flora and fauna. Old-growth forest species, such as the Phellinus viticola, thrive in the area and can be spotted growing on tree trunks. The Round-leaved sundew, the Great sundew and both cranberry species are common near the Lakeasuo mire. Bird species include the Mistle thrush, the Sparrowhawk and the Ural owl. Natural mires make important habitats also for many rare butterflies.

As the Lakeasuo forest attracts visitors in large numbers, trampling damages should be controlled. In snowless conditions, visitors can explore the area on paths and trails. In winter, the best way to access Lakeasuo is by skiing on tracks running through the area. The tracks start from the Solvalla Sports Institute.

The Janssoninnotko reserve is located less than a kilometre away, south-east of Meerlampi. The protected area is only 1.8 ha in size, but exceptionally well-preserved. Janssoninnotko has lush herb-rich forests, plenty of decayed wood important for diversity, and large, old trees for cavity-nesting birds. In addition, the area is part of the regionally valuable Kolmperä stream waters site. Visitors meet mezereons, wonder violets and spring peas, and many bird and mammal species typical for old-growth forests. Due to its limited accessibility, Janssoninnotko is a well-preserved gem with no routes or paths.

Myllyjärvi-Hepolampi and Gillermossen

The City of Espoo expanded and supplemented the 13-hectare Myllyjärvi nature reserve in the Myllyjärvi-Hepolampi conservation area. Enlarged, networked reserves are crucial to a lot of species. Together with the new 20 ha area, Myllyjärvi reserve is now an even more diversified site, which reaches from the meres in the southernmost tip of Hepolampi to west of Myllyjärvi. In addition to the various coniferous forests and mire depressions, the area includes swamps, a creek hollow and picturesque, steep cliffs.

The Gillermossen nature reserve complements the Jänisniemi-Björnträsk conservation area founded in 2008, where ridged rock forests and unspoilt bare cliffs surround flooded forests and open bogs. Gillermossen is a small but charming wetland between Velskolantie and Pitkäjärvi in Velskola, which often goes unnoticed. The old drains are almost overgrown and the mire returning to its natural state. Different coniferous forests add to the scenery. These old forests are a preferred habitat for the Conk rot, the Phellinus viticola and the Perenniporia subacida, and for the Hazelhen protected under the Birds Directive.

Both these nature sites are perfect for picking berries or mushrooms. Official trails or signs do not yet exist, but the area has been marked with posts. Those exploring the area using trails off the Myllyjärvi beach should know the basics of orienteering. The paths marked in maps are almost overgrown, but the path circling Myllyjärvi can be walked counter-clockwise. There is a horseback riding trail on the west side of the lake.

Ryssänkallio-Isosuo

The large 108 ha Ryssänkallio-Isosuo nature reserve is located west of Bodomjärvi and north of the Kellonummi cemetery. Large changes in the elevation give the area a mosaic structure of rock forests, slopes, heaths and wetlands. Here, the extensive bogs, wildwoods, stream valleys, walnut groves and springs stay safe and protected.

The Ryssänkallio-Isosuo site is very valuable. It is versatile, continuous area, which provides a permanent habitat for numerous species. Conservation of areas such as Ryssänkallio-Isosuo is of paramount importance, because both the rare and the common flora and fauna species need extensive, undisturbed forests to survive. Of the endangered and rare species, the reserve is home to the Herzogiella turfacea, the Neckera pennata and the Carex disperma, and birds such as the Black grouse, the Wood grouse and the Buzzard. The Butyrea luteoalba is specialised in wood decaying.

Although there are some signs of thinning and old drains, the area is slowly returning to its natural state. Such signs are, however, an integral part of the coherent whole.

In autumn, the Ryssänkallio-Isosuo reserve is a great place for mushrooming, so do bring a basket. There are no actual trails or signs, but the area is marked in the terrain with wooden posts.

Central Park forest area

Central Park woodlands form a valuable nature reserve by protecting the forest biodiversity in Southern Finland and offering locals great recreational opportunities. Together with the old Majkärri reserve and Ritva's heritage forest, Central Park forms an imposing conservation area of substantial value.

Landscape varies from old rocky pinerys to herb-rich coniferous forests. Wildwoods, boglets, small creeks and the Rönnängen traditional meadow add to the versatility of the area. Traditional landscapes are maintained with regular mowing, which is provided for under the habitats regulations. Important characteristics to the area are decayed trees – standing or fallen – and large, old deciduous trees.

Large parts of the reserve have been identified as important bird areas. Both the Goshawk and the Wren nest here. Those listening carefully can hear the Stock dove and the Wood warbler in the background. The Red-breasted flycatcher and the Hawfinch are also known to nest in the area.

The species-rich Central Park also offers a home for many demanding polypores, such as the Pycnoporellus fulgens, the Phellinus viticola and the Phellinus ferruginosus, and valuable plants including the Dryopteris cristata and the endangered Neckera pennata.

In winter, the area can be explored by skiing, as there is a well-maintained track running through or on the edge of the reserve. The track can be accessed in Kuurinniitty or Pitkänotko, for example. Hiking, berry picking, mushrooming and similar recreational activities are permitted under the public right of access. Visitors must, however, refrain from causing damage to the vegetation, illegally trapping or hunting animals, cross-country cycling and organising large events

Bergö-Ramsö

The forests in Bergö-Ramsö twin islands, about 54 hectares in all, are now protected. The Ramsösundet conservation area, set up in 1982, is located between these two reserves, and together the three form a sizeable site of significant ecological value. Those living or holidaying on the seashore may continue enjoying beautiful, valuable environment, where the public right of access continues to apply.

The Bergö-Ramsö reserve in Suvisaaristo forms an impressive part of the Uusimaa and Espoo archipelago, and one of the few coherent, well-preserved, diverse and scenically beautiful forest areas. The site is characterised by tall old trees, bogs, the Common alder, fern-lined creeks, thickly barked old pines and decayed wood common for natural environments. The endangered Skeletocutis stellae and the rare Phlebia centrifuga grow here, as does the critically endangered Buxbaumia viridis.

The best way to get to the forest reserves is via Soukka on the Suvisaarentie road. Several small paths run through the forests and up the cliffs. In April, the cliffs in Bergö provide an excellent location for spotting the signs of spring; the thawing land makes you drink in the scents of the pine forest while loud squeaks lead your gaze up towards the blue sky. A wedge of cranes flying across the gulf has reached the Finnish south coast. A tawny owl safe in its nest has more important things to do than listening to wood warblers.

Friisinkallio

The scarcity of nature reserves in Southern Espoo adds to the importance of the 26 ha Friisinkallio site. The area is located to the north of the Friisilä residential area, south of Puolarintie, near central park.

Friisinkallio is a diverse natural site with significant geological value. It is characterised by tall, majestic cliffs, precipices and hollows on which retrieving glaciers have left their mark. An ancient shoreline of the Littorina Sea runs in the area. Forests range from arid, rocky pine stands to lush coniferous forests, herb-rich heaths and lush groves. In the north, there is a small Black alder mire and a fern grove supporting a large Matteuccia struthiopteris population. Small streams, trickles, springs and a beautiful bog bond enclosed by the rocks all contribute to local biodiversity.

There are more than 40 known bird species nesting in the area, including the Hazelhen and the Grey-headed woodpecker listed in the Birds Directive. Grove plants include the Lathyrus vernus and the Impatiens noli-tangere. The bog bond has a small Nymphaea tetragona population. In the eastern part of the area there have been sightings of the Flying squirrel, which is strictly protected under the EU Natural Habitats Directive.

As Friisinkallio is a popular recreational area, trampling damage is controlled with two established trails for exploring the area. The trails can be accessed from Puolarintie, Friisiläntie, Tähtikalliontie or Holmanmäentie.

Kalajärvenkallio and Luukinjärven coastal forest

Luukinjärvi and Kalajärvi, located in Northern Espoo, just off Vihdintie, have two new nature reserves in the surrounding shores and forests.

The Kalajärvenkallio site is 54 hectares in size. It is covered by diverse forest characterised by precipices and large changes in elevation. In addition to rock forests and pine stands with lingonberries, the slopes are covered with spruce-dominated heaths. The hollows and low-lying parts are dotted with swamps and bogs. The splendid coastal bog on the south side of Kalajärvi with its cranberries and lush stream-bank wildwood increase biodiversity in the area. Its wildlife value is further promoted by Kaliton, a beautiful little bog bond, which has been annexed to the area as a separate site. The Kalajärvenkallio reserve forms an important wildlife corridor towards the Tremanskärr reserve.

The reserve supports rich polypore populations, including many valuable old-growth forest species, such as the Phellinus nigrolimitatus and the Asterodon ferruginosus. Notable bird species include the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker as well as the Black woodpecker and the Hazelhen protected under the Birds Directive. The Flying squirrel also thrives in the area.

Luukinjärvi, located south of Kalajärvi, is the home for the 12 ha Luukinjärvi coastal forest nature reserve. The area is covered with old-growth mixed forests with plenty of valuable deadwood and large deciduous trees. The steep descend to Luukinjärvi with its impressive slope forests is particularly scenic. Together with the Luukinjärvi bird sanctuary, the area forms a rich and prominent nature site.

The Luukinjärvi habitats range from coniferous forests and herb-rich patches to lichen-covered or lusher rocks and precipices. Close to the shoreline, there is a small grey alder-dominated swamp. Nature on the banks of the two streams running along the slopes down to the lake is particularly rich. In addition to the Flying squirrel, Rantametsä homes the Eurasian blackcap, the Eurasian woodcock and the Hobby as well as the Hazelhen protected under the Birds Directive.

In October, the areas may be good for those looking for funnel chanterelles. The Luukinjärvi coastal forest reserve is best explored using paths off the Lahnus school. The paths in Kalajärvenkallio nature reserve run south or west of the lake or off Vihdintie. There are no official signs yet.

Karhusuo

Karhusuo forest reserve, established in 2010, is located between Karhusuo and Pitkäniitty, a little way north of the intersection of Turunväylä and Ring Road III. It is some 14 hectares in size, and homes a variety of old coniferous forests, unspoilt rock pine stands and precipices, and patches of mire and herb-rich forests. The reserve is annexed to the surrounding recreational forests and forms an important ecological corridor northward all the way to Nuuksio.

The northern part of the reserve is dominated by the majestic rocky slope with its thickly barked old pines and scenic precipice. Below the precipice grows an old herb-rich forest with plenty of deadwood. The shady wildwood hollow in the middle of the reserve, and small streams and trickles with their banks add to the versatility of the area. In addition to the Flying squirrel sighted in Karhusuo, many rare species typical to an old-growth forest, such as the Butyrea luteoalba, the Phellinus pini and the Phellinus ferruginosus, enjoy the area. Bird species include the Wren, and the Hazelhen and the Black woodpecker listed in the Birds Directive.

Karhusuo is best accessed from the nearby residential areas or the outdoor routes to the north of the area. There are no signs or marked trails in the area, but a visitor will find several smaller paths crossing the reserve.

Kurkijärvi

Kurkijärvi reserve forms a permanent green corridor between the old Tremanskärr nature reserve and the Vestra Natura 2000 network site in Vantaa, and provides an important ecological link between these valuable nature areas. The area is branch-like in shape, as it only covers the areas in the best natural state. Some parts of the area bear signs of old logging operations, but they are important to the reserve as a whole and for the intactness of the wildlife corridor. Luckily, they too are gradually returning to their natural state.

Characteristic to this forest reserve are coniferous forests, decayed wood, thickly barked old pines and deadwood standing on rocks. In low-lying places and in hollows between rocks, there are small bogs and spruce-pine mires. Creek, open swamp and the Kurkijärvi shores add to the biodiversity. The area is preferred habitat for the Junghuhnia collabens, the Antrodia mellita under strict protection, as well as the Three-toed woodpecker and the Hazelhen protected under the Birds Directive. Many bats, the Flying squirrel and the strictly protected Lilypad whiteface thrive in Kurkijärvi.

The beautiful Kurkijärvi shores are easy to access by skis from the parking lot of the Serena WaterPark. If entering from the south, try snowshoeing; it is an excellent way to explore forests in winter. The public right of access applies. Actions harmful to the environment, landscape or the survival of the species are prohibited.

Myllypuro and Kvarnbyå

Lotic waters and their surroundings are particularly important for biodiversity, as they support both their own distinctive aquatic species, and the flora and fauna adapted to the lush, wet habitat. Flowing waters form important ecological corridors and are scenically beautiful. In May, visitors get to admire floral splendour with the Wood anemones, the Hepaticas and the Marsh marigolds in full bloom. Both nature reserves can be accessed by following outdoor trails or the small paths on the riverbank.

The 25 ha Myllypuro thin-peated rich spruce mire is a regionally valuable site north of the Niipperi residential area. The reserve is important for both the endangered flowing water species, and the species living in the natural-state coniferous and herb-rich forests. The area is preferred by many demanding flora, including the Matteuccia struthiopteris and the Impatiens noli-tangere, and the rare Rhytidiadelphus subpinnatus and Carex rhynchophysa. It also harbours the Phellinus ferruginosus, the Phellinus nigrolimitatus and many other valuable polypores, and provides a nesting place for the Hazelhen and the Chiffchaff, and occasionally for the Lesser spotted woodpecker, the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker and the Red-breasted flycatcher. There have also been Flying squirrel sightings in the area.

Kvarnbyå is some 3.4 ha nature reserve opposite to the Jorvi hospital. It is part of the valuable Glimsinjoki lotic waters reserve and annexed in the east to the Ingaksenmetsä forest reserve recently protected by the Espoo parishes. Nature in the area is characterised by flood wetlands and lush herb-rich forests with plenty of deadwood. Some parts are covered with beautiful fern spruce mires. The river is an important foraging area for bats. Birds nesting along Kvarnbyå include the Icterine warbler, the Blackcap and the Common sandpiper. Demanding plant species found in the area include the Stellaria nemorum and the Hop, but the rare Porella cordaena and Dermatocarpon luridum also enjoy the environment.

Pentala and Stora Herrö

The over 50 ha Pentala nature reserve saves a piece of Espoo's best-preserved archipelago for future generations. The terrain is varied and includes old-growth forests and impressive cliffs with unspoilt reindeer moss mats, thickly barked old pines, deadwoods and small mire hollows. The southernmost lake in Espoo, ruggedly beautiful Pentalaträsket, is also located there. Area south-west to the lake is marked by a treeless fen rich in flora. Seashore and the black alder mire surrounding the Ängesviken flada add to the biodiversity of the area. The Pentala reserve supports the Bog orchid, the Rigid bog-moss and the Warnstorfia procera, and bird species such as the Hazelhen and the Grey-headed woodpecker.

The 8 ha Stora Herrö forest area is located south of Pentala. It is characterised by nearly unspoilt old-growth forests and undamaged, varied rock terrain with gnarled pines typical to the archipelago. Abundant deadwoods offer valuable habitats for many rare old-growth forest species, the different Aphyllophorales among them.

The best way to get to Stora Herrö is by archipelago boats, which stop there on a daily basis. Route to Pentala is operated only during the annual Archipelago Days in August. At other times, the only way to get to the island is by way of your own boat. When in Pentala, you can follow paths from Diksand beach to the museum area and around the lake. There are no distinct paths in the Stora Herrö reserve, but the island has outdoor areas, an observation tower, tent places, cooking areas and an outhouse.

Sorvalampi-Häkläjärvi

The Sorvalampi-Häkläjärvi nature reserve occupies over 50 hectares extending east of Pitkäjärvi in Velskola, and south of Sorvalampi and Häkläjärvi northern shores. The forest has remained in natural state and forms a diverse, unique environment with significant ecological value. The different habitats have led to a mosaic structure offering suitable resources for a large number of species. Scenery varies from majestic, rugged cliffs with lichen-rich pine stands to different wetlands and spruce mires. The range of forests includes both coniferous and herb-rich forests with abundant, diversity-promoting deadwoods. Small streams and trickles, a black alder mire, lush hazels and handsome little-leaf lindens add to the mix.

The state of the reserve and the decayed woods, snags and fallen trunks provide excellent living conditions for many valuable old-growth forest species, the different Aphyllophorales among them. Birds nesting in the area include the Hazelhen and the majestic Wood grouse, which prefers undisturbed forested areas. The colourful spring peas and the little-leaf lindens are among the grove plants found in the area. In the eastern part of the area there have been sightings of the Flying squirrel, which is strictly protected under the EU Natural Habitats Directive.

Although there are no signs in the reserve, the many paths make it easy to explore. The best way to access the area is via Sorvalampi. If the weather is nice, why not combine it with a dip in the lake? The paths lead to Häkläjärvi and northward towards Igelträsk.