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New wetland in Finland will promote variation and diversity

Biodiversity, recreation and improved water quality. The planned wetland at Söderlångvik Manor in Finland will attract not only animals but also people, who will be able to enjoy both greater variety of birdlife and exciting variation in the vegetation.

Siv Vesterlund-Karlsson

Siv Vesterlund-Karlsson

Söderlångvik Manor lies on an island off the west coast of Finland, near the village of Dalsbruk. The manor is currently putting the finishing touches to an area of wetland, with the goal of preserving and strengthening biodiversity. The wetland, covering an area of 1.7 hectares, has been planned by Skogssällskapet Finland. If all goes according to plan, the wetland will be ready by autumn 2020.

“This feels really exciting! Our aim is to increase the biodiversity in forestry, but we also want to add a social value. The wetland is close to an existing nature trail, much used by visitors who want to get close to nature. If we can contribute somehow, by adding a beautiful piece of wetland to a popular area, that feels great,” says Siv Vesterlund-Karlsson, forest manager at Söderlångvik Farm.

Local birdwatchers involved

The water level can easily be regulated using a monk. Photo: Felicia Yllenius

The water level can easily be regulated using a monk. Photo: Felicia Yllenius

The depth of the wetland will vary, down to a maximum of 1.4 metres. Small islands, protruding around 30 centimetres above the water level, help to create a mosaic in the landscape. A device called a monk can regulate the water level in the wetland.

“We’re expecting, for example, a greater variety of birdlife, because different species will be able to come and find food, shelter and nesting sites in the wetland. We’ve engaged local birdwatchers, who come and monitor developments,” explains Siv.

Söderlångvik Manor lies in a unique cultural history environment on Kimito Island, and totals nearly 7000 hectares. The farm is owned by the Konstsamfundet cultural association, which was founded by the former owner of the manor, businessman, and patron, Amos Anderson.

“We’re an association that manages an enormous area of forest, so we feel a certain pressure to, alongside production forestry, make sure the forest is run on social and ecological grounds. Variation in the forest landscape is important, and we’re proud of the wetland and the different values it will bring.”

Greater diversity around the wetland

Siv explains that is not only the water itself that is important; the edges of the wetland will also be managed to provide a welcome addition to the landscape.

“It will be a beautiful area for recreation, containing a wide variety of tree species with a strong deciduous element that will flood the area in greenery in spring and summer. We want local people to be able to enjoy the wetland and its surroundings, and hopefully animals and plants will become established here.”

A long, active period of ditching in Finland led to the destruction of many wetlands, and many species are now under threat or disappearing completely. However, many people are now starting to realise that wetlands are vital for biodiversity and water quality, and restoration projects are taking place all over the country. The work at Söderlångvik Manor is an example.

“There used to be a wetland here, so what we’re doing is a type of restoration. Wetlands are incredibly valuable for the surrounding area, not least for water quality. The water from nearby fields will run through the wetland, and emerge cleaner on the other side because of the completely natural cleaning process that takes place in wetlands.”

Text: Therese Johansson