Suomen Luonto
English summaries 5/2001

When capercaillies caper no more
By: Mika Honkalinna
Page: 16

The capercaillie\'s traditional communal leks, or display grounds, have been badly affected by forestry over the last few decades. Clearcutting and the construction of logging roads have ruined many of the species\' traditional display sites, which are now consequently deserted and silent. Population estimates show that fifty years ago there were three times more capercaillies in Finland than there are today.

A capercaillie\'s communal display site also constitutes its home range, for during the whole of their lives these large birds do not stray further than a few kilometres from the place they were born in. It is essential to take such display sites, which often extend over several dozen hectares, into account when harvesting a forest. Naturally, the habitat is preserved for many other animals, too. This is important because display grounds are usually located in places where the forest is old and has a very varied composition.

Mika Honkalinna has been photographing displaying capercaillies since the spring of 1981. At that time it was not difficult to locate a display ground. Gradually, however, the number of conserved sites has dwindled. Consequently, Honkalinna has moved his operations to Repovesi, in Pohjois-Valkeala, where the future of capercaillie display grounds seems secure, thanks to plans to establish a national park there. To his elation, last spring Honkalinna also discovered an intact display site in the forests he used to visit during the 1980s in Kymenlaakso, south-eastern Finland.

Lake Ladoga soon to be opened to nature tourism
By: Markku Lappalainen
Page: 46

A national park is being established in the Lake Ladoga region, in Russian Karelia. This forms part of a Finnish-led EU project aimed at developing Karelia\'s national parks. Tourism plays a key role in the project, since it is the only sure way of obtaining regular income for the parks. The commitment of local inhabitants to the project is important during the initial stages of planning, even; there will be poor results, if the orders and directives all come from outside. To ensure success, it is essential to train park personnel well.

National park establishment has been complicated by the general social situation prevailing in Russia. Setting up Ladoga National Park has been delayed due to differing opinions among the authorities regarding the boundaries of the park and the level of protection.

Lake Ladoga is Europe\'s largest lake. At Sortavala, an old fishing vessel has been converted to make it suitable for tourism. While cruising Lake Ladoga in this vessel, visitors can see Winter\'s villa, which is of cultural historical interest, and Valamo with its famous monastery. Lake Ladoga ringed seals can be seen basking on rocks in the outer archipelago.

Dramatic upheavals in reindeer herding
By: Heikki Kirstinä
Page: 24

Writer Heikki Kirstinä and photographer Harri Nurminen visited Kessi, in Inari, to record a day in the life of the Far North. Reindeer herdsmen spent the day trapping willow grouse and rounding up reindeer.

There are only half as many reindeer calves as normal in the Paatsjoki reindeer cooperative\'s area. Herdsman Hänninen says this is due to predators. Young reindeer are taken by golden eagles and brown bears. A conflict of interests also exists over the forests in Kessi. The local sawmill needs wood and lumberjacks jobs, but when trees are felled, beard lichen, which grows hanging from tree branches and forms part of the reindeer\'s winter diet, disappears, while timber extraction routes damage the reindeer lichens growing on the ground. Many herdsmen admit that there are now too many head for the grazing areas, but say they have to support themselves in some way, just like everybody else.

The advent of the snowmobile in Lapland in 1962 quickly revolutionised reindeer herding and its associated traditional culture. This machine replaced the reindeer sled and the old work methods, and even the Saami work language lost some of its vocabulary when men no longer had to spend long periods together in the fells. Reindeer herding rapidly became a commercial undertaking, the costs of mechanisation forcing the herdsmen to increase the number of reindeer to ensure a better income.

\"Owl man\" Saurola and his Ural owls
By: Juha Höykinpuro
Page: 4

Although Pertti Saurola\'s decades of work as a prime mover in bird ringing in Finland are now drawing to a close, his life work continues. Spring days are highly rewarding for the \"owl man\". Saurola followed in the footsteps of Pentti Linkola, who pioneered Ural owl studies in Finland, his hobby later forming part of his professional work. Currently, Saurola maintains 144 Ural owl nest boxes. These are very important nowadays, due to the extreme scarcity of large, hollow \"chimney stack\" trees providing the species with nesting facilities in commercial stands.

Saurola\'s ringing activities in his Häme study area begin as early as March. The more voles (the Ural owl\'s main diet) there are available, the earlier these birds begin nesting. During the laying period, females are weighed and measured, the moulting stage is determined, and the identification on a ring is recorded, or a ring fitted where absent. Nestlings are also weighed, measured and ringed and as they grow up, it is the turn of the male owl. When dealing with Ural owls, the ringer is obliged to resort to protective goggles and a fur hat extended down the neck. Saurola says that the fascination of ringing Ural owls is that it enables ornithologists to keep track of the birds throughout their entire life span.

Xanthoria lichen makes a splash of colour in the city
By: Väinö Hosiaisluoma
Page: 32

A wide and colourful variety of lichens grow attached to tree trunks and branches. Some of these grow well in close proximity to human settlements and culture. The lovely yellow Xanthoria is one of them.

After half a century of absence, lichens resistant to air pollution have returned to Helsinki\'s city centre parks, and they include members of the Xanthoria genus. Quite the most prominent of these, thanks to its eye-catching colour and larger size, is Xanthoria parietina. This species grows not only on aspen, but also on its close relative the poplar, in addition to maple, elm and lime trunks. Calcium-rich cement is also acceptable as a substratum in the city, Xanthoria being found on the surfaces of concrete walls and monuments. Among the Xanthorias, the commonest is X. polycarpa, which colonises the trunks and branches of broadleaf trees and shrubs.

Teksti: Leigh Plester