Gulf of Finland nature reserves in Finland
Several large nature reserves have been established in the Gulf of Finland, alongside a number of smaller ones. The Helsinki area alone has nearly twenty protected islets that offer a habitat for birds, and which range in size from less than a hectare to some two or three hectares. Disembarking on these islets is prohibited during the nesting season, which runs from mid-April until the end of July. This guide provides information on 16 Finnish nature reserves, running from west to east.
Uddskatan is the southernmost nature reserve on mainland Finland and home to a number of endangered species. Uddskatan has a total area of 32 hectares and was afforded conservation status in 1990. The area is managed by Finland’s Metsähallitus natural heritage enterprise. www.luontoon.fi/uddskatan
Täktom, with a total area of 150 hectares, offers a unique opportunity for visitors to acquaint themselves with a number of marine environments, such as sand and dune beaches, underwater meadows and bird habitats. Finland’s national bird wetlands conservation programme was launched at Täktom in 1982 and the area was declared a Natura 2000 nature protection area in 1998. The area is managed by Finland’s Metsähallitus natural heritage enterprise.
Tammisaari National Park
Tammisaari National Park, covering a total area of 52 km2, offers excellent opportunities for outdoor pursuits and exploring the many rocky islets that make up the majority of the park. The national park was founded in 1989 and it is managed by Finland’s Metsähallitus natural heritage enterprise. www.luontoon.fi/tammisaarensaaristo
The Espoonlahti nature reserve covers a total of 25 hectares. Despite its diminutive size, Espoonlahti is a spectacular place to visit, particularly in spring when the wild flowers are in bloom. The nature reserve was established in 1995 and it is managed by Finland’s Metsähallitus natural heritage enterprise. www.luontoon.fi/espoonlahti
The Laajalahti nature reserve is located just outside Helsinki. Covering a total area of 1.8 km2, the nature reserve is known as one of the best locations for birdwatching around the Finnish capital and there are a number of towers for this purpose in the area. The Laajalahti nature reserve was established in 1979. It is managed by Finland’s Metsähallitus natural heritage enterprise.
Harakan saari nature reserves
Harakan saari island is home to a diverse range of bird species and boasts a rich variety of flora, including the protected restharrow (Ononis arvensis). The Harakan saari nature reserves comprise a total of 4.7 hectares and enjoy protected status since 1995. The land is owned by the city of Helsinki.
Viikki-Vanhankaupunginlahti in the Vantaanjoki estuary is the largest nature reserve in Helsinki, with a total area of 305 hectares. The first section of the reserve was awarded protected status in 1959. It is included in the international Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and forms part of the Natura 2000 network. It is an important area for birdlife as a nesting area and resting place during migration. The land is owned by the City of Helsinki and the State of Finland.
Kallahdenharju esker and Kallahti coastal meadow
Home to a 150-year-old pine forest, the Kallahdenharju esker totals 3.7 hectares and was first protected in 1973, with the protected area subsequently extended in 1990. The Kallahti coastal meadow, created as a result of post-glacial rebound, covers an area of 5.4 hectares and was awarded protected status in 1993. These sites are the only two in Helsinki to be included in the national esker protection programme. They also form part of the larger Nature 2000 area, which comprises 242 hectares of the surrounding waters. The low-growing coastal meadow is home to a number of rare plant species and the shallows are an important resting site for migrating birds. The land is owned by the City of Helsinki.
Särkkäniemi at Uutela
Särkkäniemi has been awarded protected status to safeguard its coastal meadows and unique lagoons. It is home to a number of rare species, including dragonflies. The area covers 14.6 hectares and was designated a nature reserve in 1993. The land is owned by the City of Helsinki.
The Mustavuori deciduous forest is of national importance. Some of the plants that grow there in springtime include lungwort, yellow anemone and spring pea. Birdlife in the area includes species typical of deciduous and coniferous forests and reed beds. It covers a total area of 36.5 hectares and was first designated a protected area in 1987. It forms part of the wider Natura 2000 network. The land is owned by the City of Helsinki.
Östersundom bird wetlands
Part of the national bird wetlands conservation programme and the European Natura 2000 network, this nature reserve comprises three distinct bays, covering a total area of 92 hectares. It was designated a protected area in 2003. Species nesting in this area include the great crested grebe, Eurasian coot, corncrake as well as several species of duck, most notably the common shelduck. The land is owned by the City of Helsinki
Ruskis is included in Finland’s national bird wetlands conservation programme. The area covers 235 hectares and has enjoyed protected status since 1945. The land is owned by the City of Porvoo.
The Vilkkilä area forms part of the national bird wetlands conservation programme. It comprises a total of 22 hectares and the land is owned by Virolahti.
Suviranta nature reserve
The Suviranta nature reserve in Hamina comprises ancient forests, coastal deciduous forests and coastal meadows. It covers an area of 54 hectares and has enjoyed protected status in 1949. The land is privately owned.
Langinkoski nature reserve
The Langinkoski nature reserve is marked by its many rapids as well as a historic hunting lodge dating back to the time of Alexander III, the Tsar of Russia. The nature reserve comprises a total of 28 hectares and was first established in 1960. The land is managed by Finland’s Metsähallitus natural heritage enterprise.
Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park
The largest of the nature reserves, the Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park stretches across 60 kilometres of sea and includes a total of 6.7 km2 of land. The national park is known for its significance to Finnish military history and the excellent opportunities for birdwatching. The national park was established in 1982 and it is managed by the Metsähallitus natural heritage enterprise. www.luontoon.fi/itainensuomenlahti