Jouni Laaksonen 16.11.2020
Addition 17.11.2020: Just one day after my post Ministry of the Environment has today announced that Sallatunturi and Evo national park candidates are selected for further investigation. It is possible that Sallatunturi National Park would be established already in 2021. The possible Evo National Park needs more background work.
National Park is an international brand. Wherever you travel you can count on national parks being about the best that country has to offer for a hiker. In Finland there are 40 national parks.
In Finnish national parks there is no habitation, no forestry, no mining and usually no roads inside the park. Instead there is a good network of marked hiking trails, campfire sites and so on, and the nature is wonderful.
These 40 national parks represent Finland’s nature from southern seaside and archipelagos to ancient forests, to bird mires, to pure lakes, to flower-rich riversides, to treeless fells of Lapland. I have told about many national parks in my blog. This old post features several national parks. Or you can see pics from for example Oulanka National Park, Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, Syöte National Park, Hossa National Park…
Map of Finnish national parks. Blue color indicates an established national park and red color indicates a new candidate. Every national park is a good destination for day hiking. Some are also suitable for weekend long hikes, and the largest ones are great destinations also for longer expeditions.
The current government is planning to establish one or even two new national parks.
There are five more prominent candidates, and some older candidates as well. Each of the areas mentioned below have beautiful nature and good hiking infrastructure already now. The most accepted view is that the one or two parks will be established from this group (from north to south):
Sallatunturi area consists of beautiful old-growth forests and bogs, together with some fells. If the idea would be to add a lot of area to the national park network, this is the choice. Sallatunturi National Park would be at least four times as large as any of the other candidates.
If the most important criteria would be to offer a Wow effect to the nature tourist, Korouoma should be selected. The main attraction is an imposing gorge surrounded by old-growth forest.
If a very Finnish kind of terrain speciality would be searched for, and with really long history of being a natural tourist attraction, Punkaharju is the place. A long and narrow pine-growing ridge between large lakes is the heart of this area. Haarikko is an area of old forests and small lakes, though quite far from Punkaharju. *
If a new forest oriented national park for Southern Finland would be the target, Evo is our man. Some of the finest and oldest forest of Southern Finland grows in Evo. This is also a center for forest research.
If the aim would be to enlarge and enrich the network of marine national parks, Porkkala is the only option. Wonderful seashore cliffs offer breathtaking views.
National parks are nowadays often seen as locomotives for local nature tourism, and many municipalities would gladly see a national park inside their boundaries. However, a national park is not established because of tourism. National park is first a nature conservation area, and only secondly a paradise for hikers. Also this question might have some value: what should the new national park(s) add to the network of parks? I’m not going to guess, let’s let the Ministry of Environment make the decision. 🙂
A good variety of national parks is described in English in my book Hiking in Finland (Karttakeskus 2019). And all 40 of them are thoroughly presented in my book Retkeilijän kansallispuistot (in Finnish, latest edition Otava 2020).
*In Punkaharju slideshow there is an aerial map. It is from the open databank of National Land Survey of Finland, 11/2020.