Mountains of Kilpisjarvi as a refuge area for threatened plants in Finnish Lapland

Finnish Forest Research Institute, Kolari, Finland

The botanically most famous mountains in Finland, Saana and Malla, are located by Lake Kilpisjarvi in north-westernmost Finland. This is the only area where Scandinavian Caledonian Range reaches into the Finnish area. The Kilpisjarvi area belongs to the subalpine vegetation zone. The lower mountain slopes are dominated by birch forests, whereas the treeless alpine vegetation prevail on the upper slopes. The bedrock consists partly of dolomitic rocks resulting in fertile Dryas-heaths. Outcrops of dolomite rock on steep slopes and the basic soil below, host a large number of rare species of several organism groups. Altogether 434 vascular plant species are found in Kilpisjarvi region. The most characteristic elements of the flora are the calcicolous alpine species, that are rare or absent in other parts of Finland. Altogether 29 species occur in Kilpisjarvi area only. One of the rarest species among them is Oxytropis lapponica, which is also rare throughout Scandinavia, the only population of which is on the slope of Mt. Pikku-Malla in Finland. Altogether 22 threatened and 19 near-threatened vascular plant species belong to the flora of Saana and Malla. Numerous rare and threatened species are also among the lichens and bryophytes of Kilpisjarvi area although these groups are less studied than vascular plants. As a result of an inventory in 2010, Finnish Forest and Park Service found in Malla Strict Nature Reserve (SNR) six moss species, which are in need of special protection. One of them was Orthothecium lapponicum with only three occurrences in Finland, two of which are in Malla SNR. In 2007, a Finnish lichenologist Juha Pykala, found on Mt. Malla and Mt. Saana 20 lichen species which were new to Finland, six of them were also new to Fennoscandia. It is evident that these mountains are among the most valuable sites in Finland not only for vascular plants but for bryophytes and lichens as well.

© 2012 Organizing Committee