Guardians of the mire

Climate change, pollution and natural disasters have unfortunately become part of our daily lives, many claim that we are way too far out in this tragical process in order to prevent apocalyptic consequences. In my opinion there is still a glimmer of hope as in many other extremely important aspects of life such as love in the end it all comes down to a choice, we can always choose to foster awareness, to think about the bigger picture as opposed to let ourselves wallow in self-righteousness. As much as we all like to discuss and debate methods and tools for preventing the harrowing consequences of climate change and nature abuse, sometimes I believe we need to get our hands dirty and only then can we become part of the change we like to see in our world. Its amazing what a simple act of care and respect for nature can do for many endangered species as well as helping other people become aware of it.

So with these thoughts in mind on august 12th I've had the pleasure to join this group of talented and determined people with SLL .

As per usual I left in a hurry, hopped in the car not knowing exactly what to expect or how this event is been arranged, after couple hours drive I finally reached my destination, a remote location in Central-western Finland named Mäntysuo within Mantta-Vilppula town borders. I was greeted by two friendly people that provided me gear and showed me the way to join the other "restorers" as I walk through the forest and get closer to the mire I realize that being 6'4" and 230lbs is not a good combination on boggy grounds. Matti explains that building and strenghtening the dams is necessary to prevent the mire from drying up completely, that is what larger logging companies are after as they aim at draining the mires by digging ditches to the sides in order to get as much wood as possible with the lesser effort. Unfortunately this rather irresponsible and abusive practice is quite common in Finland as Matti continues, this means in fact that the fauna and flora death toll will keep raising in the mires, endangering a wide range of vegetation including the sought after cloudberries, edible mushrooms, schurbs and trees that are home to many species such as:

Cranberry Blue Albulina optilete

Cranberry Fritillary Boloria aquilonaris

Moorland Clouded Yellow Colias palaeno

Tundra bean goose

Ptarmigan

source: https://www.biodiversity.fi

Biodiversity threathened mire butterflies

Biodiversity threathened mire species

Red listed mire habitats

After roughly 6 hours of digging and shoving peat with the provided tools of the trade we have managed to complete our first dam. Juho and the rest of the team prepares to apply the final refining touches by covering the pile with grass and all the rooty turfs we can find in order to stabilize the structure ad make sure it will not get washed off when water rises. Our work is done for the day and we start to head back to the "randevouz" location crossing one of the most iconic landsapes in Finland. On our way Juho mentions that even though we were able to do something valuable today, work here is far from over, and in need of constant monitoring and restoring as long as the exploitative draining practice will be employed by logging companies, mires and their authoctonus species will always be endangered. While we refresh ourselves with some food and beverages kindly offered by the organizers we discuss about the draining and mire exploitation issues with Juho and the rest of the team, it's obvious that even though Mäntysuo is already a state-owned protected area more support for this kind of restoring and conservative actvities could make the difference for ultimately preserving and salvaging the home of the many species living in the mires. Unfortunately we don't know whether we will be able to completely solve the issue as it would require goverment and other public authorities support, we just know that now Finnish forests have new friends that will be there to help whenever needed, they will be known as the guardians of the mire. Learn more about the threatened species in Finland, download the files below:

Threathened species 1

Threathened species 2

Written by Tancredi Leone
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