English summaries 11/1999
Outer archipelago prepares for winter
by Markku Jokinen (photos) and Antti Halkka
Wildlife photographer Markku Jokinen specialises in committing Finland's harsh outer archipelago to film. He is especially fond of the autumn and winter, when the graphic forms of the islands are starkly apparent. Jokinen mainly photographs in the Archipelago Sea and the Gulf of Finland. His pictures have hardly been available to the public at all until this autumn, with the publication of a book, Ulkosaaristo ("The Outer Archipelago").
EIA would bring the National Forest Programme crashing down
by Mikko Niskasaari and Antti Halkka
Finland's National Forest Programme was given tentative approval by the government in the spring of 1999. Environmental NGOs in particular criticised the programme as being far too oriented towards intensive forestry. It did not incorporate the new forest protection objectives. EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment), brought in during the autumn of 1999, highlights significant ecological risks in the programme's implementation.
Moreover, the scheme's national economic effects have been calculated in far too amateur a fashion, criticise experts. At the moment it is not clear whether the programme will be changed on the basis of the results of EIA. It is clear, however, that, as it stands, the programme would take Finland's forest management a step back into the past compared with, for instance, Sweden, where a decision has just been taken to concentrate heavily on safeguarding the ecological sustainability of forestry.
"Nature of Finland's" summer questionnaire yielded some new facts
by Arto Kurtto ja Juho Rahkonen
At the beginning of the 1999 summer we requested readers to send in their observations on bats (Chiroptera) and on lime-grass (Leymus arenarius), with a view to determining where the bats actually live, and how far lime-grass, a seaside plant, has penetrated inland over the last few years.
The bat question brought a response from 446 observers. In fact, the actual number of observations was several times this figure. A total of 712 people supplied information on lime-grass, revealing the presence of at least 200 colonies of the species. From the results one can conclude that bats have come to terms with the human life style. They exist in almost all parts of the country, the commonest residence taken up by the bats being the summer house (or "summer cottage" as it is often called). In the mail bag, the highest number of bat observations came from southern and southwestern Finland.
Lime-grass is gradually marching inland. Thirty years ago, occurrences of this plant along road verges were known mainly from the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Bothnia, i.e. close to the coast. To judge by the answers to our query, lime-grass has penetrated well inland, making convenient use of the highways.
Appreciation of the Finnish horse is increasing
by Helena Tengvall ja Ilpo Mannerkoski
The Finnish race of the horse has traditionally been an irreplaceable beast of burden for Finns working in fields and meadows and in forests being turned into arable land. Before motor cars became common, it was virtually impossible to leave the remotest villages in the country unless one had a horse. The Finnish horse also demonstrated its toughness during the Winter War and Continuation War.
Not only was the horse a superb worker, it also took care of the landscape. Flowering meadows and forest glades have radically decreased along with the diminishing habit of keeping the Finnish horse (and also cattle) there in summer. With the loss of herbs, insect life associated with pastures and dung has also declined. For example, the dor beetle Geotrupes stercorarius and the dung beetle Onthophagus gibbulus, once generally distributed and common, are now endangered species.
Increasingly popular trotting races and horse riding as a hobby have to some extent improved the status of the Finnish horse, and also incidentally of dung beetles in general. Some horses can also nowadays be seen helping out with forestry work, not only privately but even in our national parks.
Wildlife photographer blunders about in a forest at night
by Antti Leinonen
One of Finland's most well-known bear photographers, Antti Leinonen, took a nocturnal walk into the forest in the late autumn, entering territory that was familiar to him in broad daylight. At night the darkness and silence played tricks on him. This bear expert was worried about stumbling into a bear's winter lair; he lost his way and was frightened by the shapes of trees.
A story about the dark, which turns familiar things completely upside down, is a touching story about the smallness and fragility of mankind.