baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

©2019copyright christoph hase

Gutulia National Park, Norway


The park (23 km2), right on the Swedish border, includes one of the largest old-growth forests in Norway. To the east the park is adjacent to the larger Långfjället Nature Reserve of Sweden. The park is said to be ”virgin forest” 1 2 but old cut stumps and trunks can be seen here and there. However, the forest shows the classic characteristics of old-growth forest like old trees, and abundant standing and fallen dead trees. In the main the forest regenerated following the last major fire in the 1860s but there are also much older Opens internal link in current windowPinus sylvestris (Scots pine) trees that have survived the fires. The forest has been saved from logging because transporting timber was difficult before3. The park is still used for reindeer grazing.


Elevation ranges from 615 m to 949 m (Gutulivola). The forest resembles the lowland forest many hundreds of kilometres to the north. Open P. sylvestris forest is the dominant type. Moist sites are covered by dark Opens internal link in current windowPicea abies (Norway spruce) groves; here in the mountains P. abies has narrow crowns like Opens internal link in current windowP. obovata (Siberian spruce) in the north. Stunted Opens internal link in current windowBetula pubescens var. pumila (Arctic downy birch) is quite abundant, too. Tall Betula trees are missing here, even in the lowest elevations. Other tree species are rare. Altogether there are about 10 tree species, all very easy to identify. The tallest trees are P. abies, about 30 m tall at the lowest elevations. Unlike in northern Fennoscandia (see Opens internal link in current windowUrho Kekkonen National Park), Betula does not extend above the coniferous species. As individual trees, P. sylvestris reaches the highest elevation, actually the top of Gutulivola. Individual P. abies and B. pubescens reach about 900 m. At higher elevations, there are plentiful fens. Slopes are gentle, the mountains (fells) resembling those in Lapland.


There is only one marked hiking path at the lowest elevations but reindeer trails abound. Off-trail hiking is quite easy although the forest floor is rather stony. Camping is free throughout the park.





2        Schmidt-Vogt, H. (1991): Die Fichte, Band II/3. Verlag Paul Parey.

3        Gutulia National Park, pers. comm. (2018)


Official site:

The park with Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) dominated forest behind Gutulisjöen (lake).
Fen behind Gutua Creek. Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine). Elev. 660 m.
Spruce mire with dominant Picea abies (Norway spruce). Also Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) with rough bark and the dead tree, right. Elev. 670 m.
Mesic Picea abies (Norway spruce) forest at 680 m. Also Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) behind the big P. abies, left centre. On forest floor mainly Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry).
Drier forest with Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) and some Picea abies (Norway spruce) with dense foliage. On forest floor Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) and Vaccinium vitis-idaea (lingonberry). Elev. approx. 750 m.
Fen with Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) and some small Picea abies (Norway spruce). Tall P. abies in the background. Elev. 770 m.
Wet fen. In the forest Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) and Betula pubescens var. pumila (arctic downy birch).
Betula pubescens var. pumila (arctic downy birch) and Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) at forest limit. In the background also a few Picea abies (Norway spruce).
Betula pubescens var. pumila (arctic downy birch) at 890 m, its highest elevation as a grove. Shrub-like Juniperus communis (common juniper).
A 3-metre Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) at 946 m, its highest elevation in tree-like form. In the field layer Empetrum nigrum (black crowberry) and slightly taller Betula nana (dwarf birch).
To the northeast from the top of Gutulivola. The lake is Valsjoen. The fells in the background are in Swedish Långfjället Nature Reserve.