In the Friendship Park, you can observe genuine, original frontier zone wilderness with numerous clean lakes, old-growth forests and diverse wetlands. The protection of these landscapes and the habitats of wild forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) were the main basics for establishing the Friendship Park in 1990.
In 2020 the Friendship Park and the Finnish–Russian Friendship Nature Reserve celebrate their 30th anniversary.
Eastern Finland, Kainuu, Kuhmo, Suomussalmi
Established in 1990
The protected areas are managed by Metsähallitus.
To cover the habitats of the wild forest reindeer as widely as possible, the Friendship Park consists of five separate protected areas situated in Eastern Finland in Kainuu region:
- Elimyssalo Nature Reserve
- Lentua Nature Reserve
- Iso-Palonen – Maariansärkät Nature Reserve
- Juortanansalo – Lapinsuo Mire Reserve
- Ulvinsalo Strict Nature Reserve
- Entering strict nature reserve is forbidden unless you have a written permit. Permits are only granted for research.
Friendship Nature Reserve
An important factor for establishing Friendship Park was to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between Finland and the USSR within the fields of environmental protection. The aims focused on joint nature conservation efforts and the sustainable use of natural resources as well as long-term monitoring of the ecosystem and research.
Therefore, at the same time with the establishment of the Friendship Park, was created also the Finnish-Russian Friendship Nature Reserve. It includes the Friendship Park on the Finnish side and on the Russian side of the border, the 49,200-hectare Kostomuksha Strict Nature Reserve (kostzap.com, English web pages under construction, Zapovednik Kostomukshkij), situated in the Kostomuksha District in the Republic of Karelia.
The idea for the Friendship Nature Reserve emerged, when wild forest reindeer, Rangifer tarandus fennicus (suomenpeura.fi) migrated from the Soviet Union side of the border to the Elimyssalo area in Kuhmo. The peaceful and unfelled wilderness of Elimyssalo offered good grazing and calving grounds. These newcomers settled, and Finland once again became home to a large mammal that had disappeared for decades.
The Friendship Nature Reserve is the first set of twin parks operating across the Finnish-Russian border dedicated to maintaining and studying the precious natural environment of the frontier zone, in addition to offering information, adventures and hiking opportunities.
Visiting Friendship Nature Reserve
The Friendship Nature Reserve is suitable for hiking as well as nature guidance and tourism. The areas offer nature enthusiasts signposted trails and services, but also wild stretch for the independent traveller.
On the Finnish side, in Elimyssalo you can find deep majestic old growth forests, whereas Lentua is a large unregulated lake with calm waters surrounded by wilderness. Iso-Palonen - Maariansärkät welcomes to breath-taking ridges and waters, sandy eskers and pine forests. More than half of the Juortanansalo - Lapinsuo area consists of mires, dotted by islands of woods. Ulvinsalo is a strict nature reserve, and it is dedicated to nature conservation and research. Entering the area is allowed only with a special permission of Metsähallitus.
Access to areas on the Russian side is restricted, but visitors are welcome to tour the strict nature reserve on guided hiking trips along nature trails. Information on the nature reserve and its outdoor possibilities are available at the Visitor Centre (kotzap.com) in town Kostomuksha. You are also welcome to explore the nature trail right next to the visitor centre.
The purpose of establishing Friendship Park and the Finnish-Russian Friendship Nature Reserve was also to promote co-operation in environmental research, to protect the Kainuu wilderness, and for environmental research purposes – particularly for nature conservation and for monitoring the status of ecosystems. To meet the needs of research, in the town of Kuhmo operates the Friendship Park Research Centre (syke.fi), which is a part of the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE.
Customer Service in Friendship Park and Friendship Nature Reserve
The Finnish-Russian cooperation shows also in customer service of the Friendship Park and the Friendship Nature Reserve. There are visitor centres both in town Kuhmo on Finnish side and in town Kostomuksha on Russian side.
Kuhmo Visitor Centre Petola
Tel.int. +358 (0)206 39 6380
+358 (0)40 825 6060
Services Offered by Enterprises and Other Organisations
Several enterprises and other organisations offer services in the protected areas and hiking areas in the Kainuu region. They have a partnership agreement with Metsähallitus and they follow the principles of sustainable nature tourism (metsa.fi) when operating in the areas.
Check also the products and services of Wild Taiga (wildtaiga.fi).
The area is managed by Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland, Ostrobothnia–Kainuu.
This is the web page nationalparks.fi/friendshippark