Primieval Boreal Beauty
The Forests and Lakes of Finland
What is the first thing people think of when you mention Finland? Forests and lakes. You would not be wrong. Forests cover 78% of the country and lakes 10%. This truly is a country where you can lose yourself in the wilderness.
These prehistoric forests are classified as taiga, expansive, almost unending regions of coniferous trees circling the higher subarctic latitudes of the planet. The forest floor is a carpet of moss and lichen which plays host to a myriad of weird and wonderful mushrooms and toadstools interspersed with low-growing berry bearing plants.
Over many thousands of years the progressive advance and retreat of huge sheets scoured the ancient rocks of the Fennoscandian Shield into depressions that later filled with water to give Finland its fabulous Lakeland landscapes.
The summer climate of Finland is reasonably mild. The long, cold dark days of winter progressively give way to increasing temperatures already moderated by the Atlantic Gulf Stream, the Baltic Sea and the inland lakes. During the short summer Northern Finland experiences long days with midnight sun and daytime temperatures sometimes reaching 25 ̊ C.
These boreal forests are home to some of the larger mammals that evoke deep forgotten feelings of kinship with the land; Brown Bear, Gray Wolf, Wolverine and Elk. There are many smaller species that inhabit these forests too. There is no shortage of bird life to be found here, the most spectacular of which are the Western Capercaillie and the Eurasian Eagle Owl as well as the seasonally elusive Bluetail.
Forests and Lakes
Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, extending from north of the arctic circle to the mild climate of the south. In the west it shares a mountainous border with Norway and the east has an extensive Baltic coastline. Most of its population live in the agricultural south leaving the forested north largely uninhabited. It boasts one of the largest National Parks.
Just as with Finland, it is a land of forests and lakes, 65% of the land being covered by forest. The vast empty northern region is taiga; ancient coniferous forest. The south is coniferous forest with more of a deciduous mix of trees. A significant area of area of Southern Sweden is comprised of lakes, one of which, Lake Vanern, being the third largest lake in Europe.
The climate of Sweden is surprisingly mild due to the effects of the Gulf Stream. In the north the country has the midnight sun of summer and the eternal night of winter. In the south summer days can are 18 hours long but only 6 in the winter. Average summer temperatures range between 15⁰ C in the north and 17.5⁰ C in the south. Despite the number of lakes, Sweden receives less rain than would be expected.
We will be venturing into Swedish Lakeland. The tectonically altered metamorphic rocks that form the major part of Swedish geology were scoured by glaciers during the last ice age and left behind the water world that we know today. Here we hope to find Elk, beaver, wolverine, maybe wolves and bears. Along with the larger mammals there are birds and all the life that lives around lakes and on the forest floor.