Martinselkonen Nature Reserve

Level: (* *) two bears

Martinselkonen is a 6200 hectare nature reserve in Suomussalmi, close to the Russian border. Martinselkonen is a Natura area, and one of the most important nesting area for birds in Finland.

Nature there is typical of Kainuu with vast, old forests and coniferous swamps. The area is a great destination for camping, fishing and berry-picking.

The border between Finland and Russia mainly follows the watershed. Waters in Martinselkonen mostly flow west to Oulujoki river and from there, to the Bay of Bothnia. Only the ponds at the south-eastern corner of the area belong to the catchment area of the White Sea. At the time when timber was driven in streams, the forests near the streams flowing west toward inner Finland were thinned out, whereas none was felled where the streams flowed eastward. There has been slash-and-burn culture, as evidenced by dead trees, barked to make them dry faster, and burned tree stumps.

Time has passed from driving wood in streams and slash-and-burn, enough so that the forests in Martinselkonen are quite old, 120-160 years. There are plenty of bogs, bounded by dead trees, coniferous swamps, and woodland, turning into marshland. Some of the loveliest views in Martinselkonen are the Karttimonjoki and Martinjoki riverbanks with old meadows, dozens of collapsed barns and overgrown rose gardens. The wildlife and birds are typical of wilderness. All apex predators can be found in the area.

The Eastern Border Hiking Route, clearly marked, runs through the area. The summer trail with blue markings travels in the middle, and the orange winter trail closer to the border zone. You can start your hike from the Martinselkonen Wilds Centre or parking areas in Porrasaho and Taivalvaara.

Martinselkonen in a Nutshell

Suomussalmi, Kainuu

Area: 61km2

Founded in 1992

Further Info:

Jouni Laaksonen (ed.): Kainuun luontokohdeopas, Edita 2005