baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

©2019copyright christoph hase

Salamajärvi National Park, Finland – Koirajoki Primeval Forest


Most of the national park (62 km2) is bog and previously managed forest but Koirajoki Primeval Forest (4.6 km2), protected as early as 1912, is untouched by modern forestry; this is one of the oldest forests in Central Finland1.


The Primeval Forest has much open pine forest, bog and boggy forest. Spruce forests are less extensive. Opens internal link in current windowPinus sylvestris (Scots pine) is the dominant tree. Opens internal link in current windowPicea abies (Norway spruce), Opens internal link in current windowBetula pendula (silver birch) and Opens internal link in current windowB. pubescens (downy birch) are abundant, too. Altogether there are about 10 tree species. You may have difficulties distinguishing between the Betula spp. but the other trees are very easy to identify. Due to the past forest fires, fire-resistant P. sylvestris also dominates on many moister sites, which are now being invaded by shade-tolerant2 P. abies. Wood volumes are relatively low. The tallest trees (P. abies) are slightly over 30 m. The primeval forest is located at approx. 170 m elevation; differences in elevation are small. Average annual temperature is 2.1°C and annual precipitation approx. 570 mm 3.


Koirajoki Primeval Forest is the northeastern “extension” of the park. A hiking route called “Hirvaan kierros” runs a part of its course through the forest. Off-trail, the forest is partly easy to hike but there are also stone fields covered by moss. Bogs, of course, also slow hiking. Camping is not allowed in the primeval forest; elsewhere in the national park camping is allowed at designated sites and outside the park everywhere with "everyman's rights". It is easiest to begin from the Perho–Kinnula road, along which parking is possible. The southernmost tip of the national park is adjacent to Opens internal link in current windowSalamanperä Strict Nature Reserve.




1       Karvinen, T. (2017): Kansallispuistot: maamme luonnon helmet. Docendo.

2       Nikolov, N & Helmisaari, H. (1992): Silvics of the circumpolar boreal forest tree species. In Shugart, H. H. et al. (ed.): A Systems Analysis of the Global Boreal Forest, 1384. Cambridge.



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Light sparse Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) forest. Also Picea abies (Norway spruce, with dense foliage) and Betula pendula (silver birch). On forest floor Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) and Calluna vulgaris (common heather).
Old, large Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine). In the background P. sylvestris, Picea abies (Norway spruce, with dense foliage) and Betula (with white trunk).
Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine, with reddish upper trunk), Picea abies (Norway spruce, with dark green foliage) and Betula pendula (silver birch).
Mesic Picea abies (Norway spruce) dominated forest with one pole-sized Betula pubescens (downy birch, behind the dead tree), Betula pendula (silver birch, white trunks), Populus tremula (common aspen, next left from the dead tree and upper right centre) and shrub-like Alnus incana (grey alder, centre). 32.6-metre P. abies, left centre.
Large Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine, centre foreground and background) have survived past wildfires. Today, the moist forest is dominated by young Betula pubescens (downy birch). Also Populus tremula (common aspen, large tree, right centre) and shrub-like Alnus incana (grey alder).
Spruce mire with dominant Picea abies (Norway spruce). Also Populus tremula (common aspen, with strongly furrowed bark, background) and Betula pubescens (downy birch, with papery bark). Equisetum sylvaticum (wood horsetail) on forest floor.
Mire with stunted Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) and Betula pubescens (downy birch). P. sylvestris forest in the background.
Bog called Hirvilammenneva with stunted Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine). In the background P. sylvestris forest with some Picea abies (Norway spruce, dark green crowns) and Betula.