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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Exporing Finnish biodiversity during GBIF 24

Biodiversity Excursions

BHL Chair Constance Rinaldo and BHL Program Director Martin Kalfatovic each took advantage of the opportunities provided by our Finnish hosts of GBIF 24 for excursions to explore Finnish biodiversity. Rinaldo explored Nuuksio National Park and Kalfatovic, Vallisaari and Suomenlinna.

Nuuksio National Park
FinBio organized a trip to Nuuksio National Park which is located on the border of an oak forest zone and the southern boreal forest zone. Prominent in the landscape are valleys and gorges formed by glaciers and barren rocky hills covered by lichen and sparse pine forest. At some places the hills reach 110 meters above sea level.  This beautiful park is less than an hour’s drive from Helsinki and has wild trails and many lakes.  We wandered the trails with our guide from Green Window and hunted mushrooms under the tutelage of Tea von Bonsdorff from the Finnish Natural History Museum.  


Along the way we foraged on bilberries (probablyVaccinium myrtillus and lingon berries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) while viewing the beautiful landscapes.  In the Helsinki market, bilberries were sold as “sour blueberries” alongside “sweet blueberries”.  While they were slightly more sour than a standard blueberry, they were delicious. The lingon berries were sweeter than the cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) we find in eastern North America but still had a bite.


After about 2 hours of mushroom hunting, we arrived at the Kattila Lappih Hut where we were treated to a lunch of salmon and potatoes cooked over an open fire.  Lunch was served at long wooden tables with candles and we sat on benches covered with reindeer furs.

  
Following the delicious lunch we set off on our own.  Some of us continued to hunt mushrooms on foot.  Others headed out in canoes to explore the lake near the Green Window conference facility.

Cortinarius rubellus (deadly webcap)
                                                   
Vallisaari and Suomenlinna
Vallisaari is just 20 minutes by boat from the Market Square in Helsinki. The island was opened for the public last year – before that it was decades abandoned and the nature took its place. Vallisaari is the most diverse nature destination in the metropolitan area. The island’s fortifications, buildings, and a record-breaking range of species tell a tale of coexistence between humans and wild nature. The other attraction, fortress of Suomenlinna, is one of Finland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Suomenlinna was built during the Swedish era as a maritime fortress and a base for the Archipelago Fleet.

Excursion to Vallisaari

By:
Martin Kalfatovic
BHL Program Director
and
Constance Rinaldo
Chair, BHL Members' Council
Librarian of the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University

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