The Kissansuo-Raanisuo-Tohlinsuo Mire Reserve is a lush and diverse mire entity on the northern boundary of municipality of Ilomantsi to the east of Patvinsuo National Park.
In the centre of the horse-shoe shaped mire reserve there are forests and some forest roads, which are not ploughed of snow during winter. In the nature reserve itself there are no marked trails or other service structures for hikers. This and the area's remote location make the area wilderness area -like. The nearest lean-to shelter and campfire site are located to the southeast of the mire reserve by Susitaival Trail (www.vaellus.info, in Finnish) near the River Lutinjoki. Tourist and programme enterprises may do not offer services in this area. Entering the area and moving around within the area are Everyman's Rights.
Mire Reserve Nature
The mire reserve was established at the same time as Patvinsuo National Park in 1982. These days the mire reserve consists of 1,468 hectares of land and 6 hectares of water. The mire reserve is made up of four separate mires, which listed from west to east are: Raanisuo, Kareisensuo, Kissansuo and Tohlinsuo. The only lakes in the area are Lake Raanilampi and Lake Pieni Raanilampi which are located in the southwest corner at Raanisuo Mire. The dampest flark bogs are found on the other hand in the area's northeast portion at Tohlinsuo Mire. In general the mires in the mire reserve are more lush than those in the in the national park it is adjacent to.
Where the North and the South Meet
In this region Rraised bogs typical of Southern Finland and more nutrient rich aapa bogs typical of Northern Finland meet in this region. The Raanisuo and Kareisensuo Mires are rugged barren raised bogs whereas the Tohlinsuo and Kissansuo Mires are nutrient rich fertile eutrophic open aapa bogs. In raised bogs there are narrow strips of hummocks which float in-between soggy bog centres. The water systems in raised bogs are for the most part reliant on rain waters and they are rugged barren as well as poor in nutrients. On the other hand nutrient rich waters flow down into aapa bogs from higher surrounding areas which have nutrients and are thus making aapa bogs suitable habitats to more demanding vegetation species.
Kareisensuo Mire is made rugged barren by the River Kissanpuro which drains flood water from the mire taking with it nutrients with it. Moss experts can determine the nutrient content of mires by examining the area's spaghnumsphagnum mosses. A typical moss specie growing in the nutrient poor raised bogs is Sphagnum fuscum moss. Moderately nutrient rich open bogs are characterized by Sphagnum subsecundum and Sphagnum subritens mosses.
The Tohlinsuo and Kissansuo Mires are lusher than Patvinsuo Mire probably because of greater changes in altitude in the surrounding area, which enables nutrient rich waters to flow down into the mires. There are also differences in the earth soil bed of the mires. The earth soil bed in the mire reserve consists of moraine, which is does not allow water to pass through it easily and enables flood waters to stay in the mires. The earth soil bed at Patvinsuo on the other hand is made up of glaciofluvial material which was produced by meltwatersmelt waters when the continental glacier melted and absorbs water easily.
Animals of the Mires
The isolated location of area's isolated location near Finland's eastern border and its wilderness ensure that there is an abundant population of large carnivores in there. The wolverine, the bear and the wolf are regular guests in the mire reserve though they are rarely seen by two-legged visitors. Large carnivores can sense the presence of humans from far away and avoid them skilfullyskilfully. The Canadian beaver (Castor canadensis) may stray from the Rivers Suomunjoki and Lutinjoki into the mires. Birds typical of mires live in the area including species such as the Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis), the Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava), numerous waders such as Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) and the Curlew (Numenius arguata). The Common Crane (Grus grus) and the Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) which hide skilfully during nesting time are easily bypassed by visitors if they do not happen to pass straight by a nest.
Restoration Work in Kissansuo-Raanisuo-Tohlinsuo Mire Reserve
Within the mire reserve there are also mires which have at one point been drained by ditching and used for commercial forestry, but are at present not used commercially anymore. Metsähallitus Heritage Services is in the process of restoring these mire areas by filling up and damming the ditches. The goal is to get the area's water system to functioning naturally. When the water system has been replenished mires species such as sedges and mosses will also recover.
A total of 300 hectares of mires have been restored in both Patvinsuo National Park and Kissansuo-Raaninsuo-Tohlinsuo Mire Reserve during early autumn of 2006. In the mire reserve mires were restored on the east side to the River Suomunjoki and on the west side of both the River Tohlinjoki and the River Lutinjoki. In the national park mires were restored in the Lake Nälmänjärvi area and along the River Hiienjoki. Restoration of mires requires quite a length of time and so one must be patient when observing its positive effects.