Háldi Transboundary Area

1.7.2021
The flood destroyed the Vuomakasjoki bridge on the Nordkalott Trail and a new one will be built in 2022. You have to wade across the Vuomakasjoki River.

 Hikers camping in the open mountain terrain. In the background high mountain peaks and blue sky.

Common Wilderness 

The highest point in Finland, Háldičohkka 1324 m, is located on the Norwegian border. The other peak on the Norwegian side, Ráisduottarháldi, is even higher, 1361 m above sea level. The border divides the surrounding Háldi region between Finland and Norway. This Arctic region of continental Europe is a vast wilderness without roads and permanent settlement. It belongs to the Sámi homeland on both sides of the border and is important for reindeer husbandry.

Haldi TBA from Reisa nasjonalpark on Vimeo.

The Háldi region can be divided to three main types of landscape: rocky fells, open or mountain birch covered plateau and river valleys. Natural watercourses are characteristic in the region. On the Finnish side, rivers flow through the Tornion–Muonionjoki River into the Gulf of Bothnia, and in Norway into the Arctic Ocean. The national border runs along the watershed. A large number of endangered species can be found in the region. Such are the species that require calcareous bedrock that survive in the Arctic climate. This unique nature is threatened by human activity and climate change.

White fox in an open mountain landscape in winter.

United by History and Culture 

Although the border between Finland and Norway has been in its current position since 1734, it has always been crossed quite freely. The most important unifying factor has been Sámi culture and reindeer husbandry. The annual migration of reindeer between inland winter pastures and summer pastures on the Arctic coast continued until 1852. At that time, the border agreement between Norway and Russia prohibited crossing the border, which caused major changes in reindeer husbandry and Sámi culture. Divided by the border, reindeer husbandry is still an important livelihood and basis of Sámi culture. 
Great rivers were used as transporting routes in trade between coast and inland. Famine years in Finland caused migration to the Norwegian coast, where a Finnish-related Kven minority culture was born.

 Skiers in the open winter fell landscape. Fells in the horizon.

Finland, Norway and Sweden share common values and history, like “everyman’s rights” in the use of the land. The most important is free public access to outdoors, with some exceptions in protected areas. Especially on the Finnish side, the Háldi region has been important recreational destination from the beginning of the 20th century. During the last decades, tourism has been growing to a prominent business in the whole region. Although Finland belongs to the European Union and Norway to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the border is still free to cross with some restrictions according to the Schengen Agreement. 

Agreement of the Háldi Transboundary Area

The Háldi Transboundary Area consist of the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area in Finland and Reisa National Park and Ráisduottarháldi Landscape Protected Area in Norway. The cooperative area has been formed in 2020 by an agreement between Metsähallitus and the Board of Reisa National Park and Ráisduottarháldi Landscape Protected Area. The co-operative management of the area includes also functional connections in the surrounding area towards Kilpisjärvi, Kåfjord, Reisa Valley and Kautokeino.

Two fishermen ice fishing on a lake. The other one has a fish on his hand.

The purpose of the cooperation is to protect natural and cultural values of the area and ensure sustainable use across borders. The cooperation agreement does not change any regulations of the protected areas and follows their official management plans. The cooperation is organized according to the model of EUROPARC Federation, network of European protected areas. The Háldi Transboundary Area has applied membership of the European Transboundary Parks Network TransParcNet and certification of transboundary park cooperation (europarc.org). 

Cross-border Recreation

The Háldi region is an important destination of nature tourism. The border is easy to cross both on the road and in the backcountry. On Finnish side, there is a long tradition to hike up to Háldičohkka, or go to fish in mountain lakes and rivers. Most popular places of interest are close to Kilpisjärvi resort. The Three Nations' Border Point of Finland, Norway and Sweden is possible to reach by boat or hiking trough Malla Srict Nature Reserve. The famous Saana Fell is a top point for a hike. In Norway, most favorable activities are salmon fishing and a river boat trip to Mollisfossen waterfall in Reisa river.  Also a hike from Kåfjord to the top of Háldi or to Gorsabroa, the bridge over one of the deepest gorges in Europe and visiting the town of Kautokeino, the Sámi center of Norway are very famous. These all have easy access from roads around the Háldi region.

 A woman on top of the black fells, in the background the valley and more steep fells.

The Nordkalott Trail goes through the Háldi region. It is part of the European long distance hiking trail E1. The trail has entry points in Kilpisjärvi, Guolasjavri in Kåfjord, Ovi Raishiin in Reisa Valley, Ráisjavri or the end point Kautokeino. The trail continues southward to the the Three Nations' Border Point and further along the border between Norway and Sweden to Abisko on the lake Torneträsk.

Current information from Visitor Centers

Crossing the border in the backcountry is possible and everyman’s rights are quite similar in Finland, Norway and Sweden. Anyhow, there are some differencies concerning e.g. hiking with animals or MTB’s. Visitors shall pay attention to regulations and instructions in countries to visit when planning border crossing. Weather and reindeer herding in the destination should be taken into consideration.

Hikers with backpacks in the visitor centre in Kilpisjärvi.

Kilpisjärvi Visitor Centre and Halti National Park Center in Storslett guide visitors in person and in web with latest information. They are both places of interest with exhibition of the Háldi region. Halti Center is a Kven cultural center, too.

Háldi Transboundary Area Project

The Háldi Cooperation Area was established in the HALTI - Cross-border Cooperation Area Project in 2018–2020. The partners in the Interreg North program project led by Metsähallitus were Luonnonvarakeskus LUKE (Natural Resources Institute, Finland), Nasjonalparkstyret for Reisa nasjonalpark og Raisduottarhaldi landskapsvernområde (Board of Reisa National Park and Raisduottarhaldi Landscape Protection Area, Norway), Halti nasjonalparksenter AS (Halti National Park Center, Norway), Gáivuotna suohkan/Kåfjord kommune (Municipality of Kåfjord, Norway) and Universitet i Tromsø - Norges arktiske universitet (University of Tromsø, Norway). The project was funded also by the Provincial Government of Norrbotten (EU Interreg Nord funding), the Federation of Lapland and the Provincial Governments of Tromsø and Finnmark.

Logos of the partners.