Finland’s 41st National Park was officially opened in Salla, Eastern Lapland, on Saturday. The conversion of the nature reserve into a national park is projected to double the number of visitors to the wilderness area near the eastern border.
The wilderness area of about 100 square kilometers is characterized by mountain and mountain views, gorges, old forests and wetlands. The park extends to the Russian border, where the network of protected areas continues on the other side as Paanajärvi National Park.
Metsähallitus has been granted EUR 4.5 million for the renovation and expansion of the Salla camping and break areas, as well as other improvements.
The area of Salla National Park has been a nature reserve since 2017, and most of it is also part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network. The status of the national park restricts hunting, but will certainly increase the number of visitors.
For example, the number of visitors to the Hossa wilderness area has doubled since it was designated a national park in 2017. Hossa is in Suomussalmi, 170 km south.
Oulanka National Park is also located partly in the large municipality of Salla. Locals still have the right to hunt except in the busiest area, which is about a tenth of the park.
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The growing popularity of national parks has inspired municipalities to compete for them. The Ministry of the Environment is currently considering 10 proposals.
The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change spoke at the opening Maria Ohisalo (Green) praised the area’s natural beauty and permissiveness for completing the project.
"National parks are places where you can showcase Finnish nature. Many habitats will be protected when national parks are established in different parts of Finland," said Ohisalo, who returned from maternity leave last week.
Hiking trails have also been improved in several national parks to meet the significant increase in visitor numbers during the pandemic.
Source: The Nordic Page