WELCOME TO GEOPARK IN THE AUTUMN

Lauhanvuori - Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark offers its best in the autumn. Mires are particularly wonderful places to visit as they are glowing in bright colors.

Unforgettable autumn experiences at Geopark

Geopark is the nature tourism pearl of western Finland, whose landscapes and valuable natural sites attract more and more hikers and tourists.

There are numerous guided routes, places to visit and places to rest in our national parks Lauhanvuori and Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas, as well as in many other great excursion destinations. You can find information about them on our Discover pages.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Visiting mires with the kids

There are several mire destinations in Geopark, where hiking is easy, safe and comfortable, even with children. The new Vaarinnevankeidas mire nature trail (in Finnish), for example, is worth visiting.

Vaarinneva is located in Hämeenkangas, close to the Jämi region’s diverse tourist services and outdoor recreation and sports opportunities. The trail with rest stops is suitable for hiking with the kids. Geopark also has many other fascinating mire sites suitable for children. Read more in our article.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Vaarinneva

Alkkianvuori and Neva-Lyly

Alkkianvuori on the border of Parkano and Karvia is a great excursion destination with many special fetures special features. Get to know Alkkianvuori on the 4.5 km long geonaturepath, whose info panels have, in addition to text and image content, QR codes that open audio content that can be listened to on a mobile device. Have snacks in a nut by Alkkianlampi lake. Read more about Alkkianvuori (in Finnish).

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

The nearby Neva-Lyly is also worth visiting. Particularly children get excited about the stories of Willpertti on the duckboard path around the mire pond. The signboards have a particularly beautiful illustration. Snacks can be enjoyed at the campfire site by the lake. At Neva-Lyly, you can also heat the sauna freely and for free! Read more about Neva-Lyly.

Photo: Sinja Hosiasluoma

Discover the story of Geopark by cycling

Experience the last two billion years of the area’s history in the best possible way – by cycling through it. Learn about Geopark’s geological story of “From mountains to mires” on the new Two Billion Year Tours cycling route.

Photo: Niina Rautiainen, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

A true adventurer chooses the long Traveller route following the roads. On the shorter Enjoyer routes, you can cycle from the municipal centers to rural landscapes and nearby places of interest in no time.

The Adventurer mountain bike routes take you to Geopark’s most beautiful sights and offer particularly great nature experiences for those who enjoy riding a bike. You can find cycling routes and Welcome cyclist services on our Cycling page. Tip: Get inspired by cycling in Geopark through the videos!

Photo: Niina Rautiainen, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Nature improves well-being

Calm down in the Geopark nature and forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life. According to studies, nature improves well-being. Just being in the forest, which the Japanese call a forest bath, brings about many positive changes in your body and mind. Read more about the well-being effects of nature in our article.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Alkkianvuori

Easily and quickly accessible

Geopark is located near the largest cities in Western Finland and can be reached quickly. In a short moment, you are in the middle of the living countryside and in the wild nature sites of the area. For example, arrive in Parkano by train and continue your journey comfortably with a rental car. Read more about arrival on our website.

Photo: Hanna Tuuri, Parkano

Enjoy the services

Businesses in the area offer travelers versatile high-quality services. Check out the wide range on our Services page. Buy experiences easily through Geopark’s online store.

Photo: Einari Vuorinen, Korsukylä

In the cafes and restaurants, you can taste the region’s specialties. Wild berries, mushrooms and other local ingredients are prepared to special delicacies. In the farm stores and boutiques, you can make personal and unique purchases.

Photo: Einari Vuorinen, Meggala Winery

On a rainy autumn day and when the evenings are getting dark, you can just pull on woolen socks and rest under a blanket in the light of candles. Stay in a cabin, inn or hotel. You can find atmospheric accommodation options in Geopark on our Accommodation page.

Photo: Salaisen Puutarhan Majatalo

On guided tours and in various activities, you can fully enjoy the Geopark nature. Expert guides will take you to the finest destinations and tell the stories of them. You can also rent equipment for your own adventures. Read more on our Activities page.

Photo: Niina Rautiainen, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

After spending time outside, pamper yourself with, for example, peat treatments or bathing in a smoke sauna. Relax and enjoy wellness services inspired by the nature of the Geopark area. Read more on our Wellness page.

Photo: Jonna Helin, Pyhäniemi Wellbeing

ENJOY QUALITY SERVICES

Some picks of the current offer

Quality accommodation in Lauhanvuori

Lauhanvuori National Park is Geopark’s most versatile excursion destination. On Lauhanvuori, you can stay in Lauhansarvi’s holiday villas. Book and pay for your accommodation easily at Lauha’s online store.

Photo: Lauhatuotanto

An atmospheric candlelit trail in Isojoki

If you are near Lauhanvuori at the beginning of week 42, you should go with the family on an atmospheric candlelit trail to the center of Isojoki. Departure from the sports field at your own pace between 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., grilled sausages and juice will be served at the lean-to until 8:00 p.m. It is approx. 1.5 km from the sports field to the shelter. Along the route you will find various task. Bring a flashlight with you!

Photo: DIGIVAPA Project

Visoko takes you to Geopark’s nature

Get to know the beautiful Hämeenkangas area and promote your well-being on a guided excursion offered by Visoko. You will hear the geological history of the area and get to know Kuninkaanlähde spring, Jämi and the surroundings. Visoko’s methods are nature-based and certified services that are tailored professionally, individually and goal-oriented: deepening the connection with nature, Aistimetsä®, Asahi Health®, ©Metsämieli, Geopark Ranger, sustainable development. Read more at Visoko’s website and ask for an offer!

Photo: Visoko

Café Meteora’s cranberry smoothie

Café Meteora is a cozy lunch and fastfood café in the center Isojoki, close to Lauhanvuori National Park. Eat a tasty meal at Meteora or have a coffee with delicious homemade pastries. In autumn, you should especially try Meteora’s cranberry smoothie, superfood from Finland’s pure mire nature. Read more about Café Meteora.

Photo: Café Meteora

Postelli’s delicacies

Pop in to the atmospheric Kahvila-Konditoria Postelli to taste the home-baked delicacies! Postelli is located in a sympathetic old post office by Kankaanpää market. Also remember Christmas parties and order food from Postelli’s catering service to be delivered on site or elsewhere. Read more on Postelli’s website (in Finnish).

Photo: Laura Koivumäki

Hiking and swimming in Kauhajoki

Kauhajoki offers many wonderful hiking opportunities. For example, Katikankanjoni in the Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park and the Hyypänjokilaakso landscape area attract nature tourists. Also Alpo’s savannah and Kammi-kylä village are very unique places to visit. After a day of outdoor activities, primary school children still get excited about swimming in the warm pools. The city of Kauhajoki will organize a popular Pool Disco in Virkistysuimala Virkku on 19 October 2022. Read more on Virkku’s Facebook page (in Finnish).

Photo: Mirja Koivisto, Alpo’s savannah

Events at Meggala Winery

Visit the exciting and surprising fishbone and water themed Reconnect exhibition at Meggala Winery. The materials used for the works are the bones of pikes caught from lakes Venesjärvi and Verttuu. In the exhibition you can also see a fishing net from the 1860s, which was used to fish on Sinahmi, a former lake that was drained in the 1870s. The exhibition is organized by Viinitila Meggala and Katja Kiviranta #thelumousstory, a craftswoman from Turku. The exhibition is free and open during the winery’s opening hours. Check out other events as well! Read more on Meggala Winery’s website (in Finnish).

Photo: Meggala Winery

AUTUMN IS THE BEST TIME FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

Have snacks by the campfire

Enjoy snacks by the campfire. You can also sit down to eat and admire the scenery at the beak of any stump. When sitting and eating snacks, you have time to notice even the smallest details of the environment. You can buy snacks with you from the cafés and restaurants in the area.

Photo: Niina Rautiainen, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

There are lots of great resting places where you can spend time by the campfire in Geopark. In most of the places there is firewood freely available to visitors. You can find the resting places on the map.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Lauhanvuori National Park

Outdoor Etiquette

When hiking, it is always important to consider nature and other people. A smart hiker respects nature in every way, keeps pets in leashes, prevents debris from forming in advance, and brings debris out of the terrain and sorts it properly.

Please use marked trails and follow the rules for different modes of travel. Stay overnight only in marked camping areas.

Photo: Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland, Outdoor Etiquette

Campfires are allowed only on marked places. Always check the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s website for current warnings. During a forest or grass fire warning, fires are strictly prohibited. Learn more about Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland’s Outdoor Etiquette.

Read more about safety on a hiking trip and responsible tourism in Geopark in our articles.

Photo: Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland, Outdoor Etiquette

RESPECT NATURE

Experience Geopark through a film

Get to know the inhabitants, the culture and the nature of the area through Geopark’s In a blink of an eye promotional film. What we see in a blink of an eye is the result of billions of years of geological evolution.

Watch the video on YouTube and enjoy!

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Korsukylä

Main photo: Niina Rautiainen, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Other photos: Terttu Hermansson, Mirja Koivisto

#lhgeopark #unescoglobalgeoparks #europeangeoparks #finnishgeoparks  #unesco #outdoor #retkeily #luontomatkailu #twobillionyeartours #pyörämatkailu #cyclingtourism #hyvinvointialuonnosta #taiteidenreitti #visittampere #visitlakeus #visitsatakunta #visitpori

Welcome to the autumn Geopark

Geodiversity in Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark

6th October we are celebrating UNESCO's International Geodiversity Day. It is a time to focus on biodiversity's silent partner, on which life and culture on Earth is built.

Natural diversity consists of two parts: biodiversity and its underlying geodiversity, which forms the basis for all life and human cultural diversity. Geodiversity has enabled ancient cultural developments, the industrial revolution and the modern information society. It also lays the foundation for a future based on renewable energy.

So what does geodiversity mean? Simply, the fact that there are many different geological formations in the area in question, both quantitatively and qualitatively. For example, the bedrock can contain several types of stone of different ages, and the soil covering the bedrock can contain soil deposits created at many different stages – moraines, ridges, peat deposits – or other geological phenomena, such as groundwater discharge sites or springs. Geological diversity can be present in the most diverse forms.

Geoparks are naturally areas of high geodiversity. This manifests itself in diverse geological sites. In the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark, there are several chapters in the development story of the landscape, starting with the events of two billion years ago, continuing to the development stages of hundreds and tens of millions of years ago, as well as the Ice Age and the development after it. In few places in Finland, as many geological development stages and the geological formations created by them can be seen.

The geodiversity center of the Geopark area is located in Lauhanvuori National Park and its surroundings. Most of the geological development phases of the area are represented there. The same stages can also be seen elsewhere in the Geopark area, individually in some places even more spectacular than on Lauhanvuori, but there is no similar entity elsewhere.

Geodiversity is the basis of life.

The connection between geodiversity and biodiversity is also very noticeable in Kauhaneva – Pohjankangas National Park and Hämeenkangas. In particular, the interaction between glaciofluvial deposits, groundwater and mires creates diverse habitats, good examples of which are the springs of Hämeenkangas.

The connection between geodiversity and cultural diversity can be seen, for example, in the agricultural landscape of Hyypänjokilaakso, the remnants of Haapakeidas bog farms, and the historic peat production areas of Aitoneva. In Karijoki, the handprint of the Iso-Kakkori stonemasons can be seen in the old stone bridges of the river valley, whose original construction method differs from the usual. In the surroundings of Alkkianvuori, the landscape has been shaped by swamp farming, bog forestry and forest research.

The connection of geodiversity, biodiversity and cultural diversity is very visible in Hämeenkangas, where the airport area built on the flat terrace area of the edge formation of the glacier has also become an open heath favored by many rare species. The landscape reminds of the region’s past – once treeless or sparsely forested heath covered almost the entire Hämeenkangas.

In addition to the sites that can be seen today, geological diversity is also visible in the history of the Geopark area. Geological formations, from gravel ridges to swamps and lakes, have for hundreds of years guided the movement of people, the placement of settlements and the development of infrastructure important to the functioning of society. Some of the geodiversity has also been lost in the mists of history, such as the lush peat bogs along the riverbanks, which were cleared for farmland a long time ago.

Finally, a small task: look around you and think about which of the everyday objects and things around you are not related to geodiversity. I’m sure you won’t find many things that are not related to geological diversity in any way.

UNESCO's International Geodiversity Day will be celebrated for the first time on October 6, 2022.

Text: Pasi Talvitie
Images: Pasi Talvitie, Terttu Hermansson, Mirja Koivisto, Jenni Rankaviita, Joonas Vinnari
Video: UNESCO / Oxford Geoheritage Virtual Conference

WELCOME TO GEOPARK IN THE SUMMER

Discover the fascinating two billion years of history of Geopark. Hiking and cycling routes as well as nature attractions invite you to explore Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark.

TWO NATIONAL PARKS AND OTHER WONDERFUL NATURE SITES

Beautiful national parks

Lauhanvuori and Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Parks, known for their beautiful scenery, are located in the Geopark area.

You can travel back in time to the past on the easy routes of Lauhanvuori National Park. The number one sight of Lauhanvuori is Kivijata, an impressive stone field formed of rare sandstone. On Lauhanvuori you may also see Finnish forest deer, for example.

Photo: Sannamari Ratilainen / Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland, Lauhanvuori National Park

In Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park you may experience magnificent wild mire nature. Kauhaneva’s duckboard route leads you to the heart of the mire. The path of Katikankanjoni takes you into the mysterious ravine shaded by spruces.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Authentic mire nature

Haapakeidas mire reserve is the largest and most diverse mire area in Geopark. In the early summer on the hiking trails the air is filled with the scent of wild rosemary. You may watch birds in observation towers or on duckboard trails. Read more about birds in our article.

There are several mire destinations within the Geopark area that are also suitable for children. See the best sites and tips in our article.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Haapakeidas

Versatile nature activities

Hämeenkangas offers tens of kilometers of easy-going routes with many resting places as well as great natural attractions. Hiking, biking, canoeing – there are diverse nature sports opportunities in Hämeenkangas.

Photo: Sofia Sillanpää, Hämeenkangas

Rocky hills and small waterways

Climb the observation towers of the rocky hills and gaze to the wide forest and mire landscapes. There are many creeks, ponds and meandering small rivers in Geopark, too. Thus the area offers experiences for e.g. canoeists and fishermen as well.

Read more about Geopark’s diverse destinations on our website.

Photo: Sofia Sillanpää, Käskyvuori

Discover the cultural heritage

The cultural sites of Geopark tell about the common history of the people and nature of the area.  Discover Geopark’s diverse museums, unique architecture, traditional churches and art at the Kankaanpää Art Circle or along the roads.

The creativity of the area’s residents becomes visible on the Route of Arts. The joyful contemporary folk art that change every year can be seen, for example in Karvia and Parkano. You will find the most interesting places to visit in our brochure.

Photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva, Alpon savanni

GEOPARK'S SITES TELL THE UNIQUE HISTORY OF THE AREA

ENJOY NATURE IN GEOPARK

Take a hike on the trails

Geopark’s trails take you in the middle of nature to see the best attractions. Geopark offers both easy and family-friendly trails as well as more demanding routes suitable for multi-day hikes with overnight stays.

Geopark’s hiking trails are compiled in Geopark’s brochure (in Finnish).

Photo: Lauri Kurki, Lauhanvuori National Park

Two Billion Year Tours cycling route

On Geopark’s new Two Billion Year Tours cycling route, you will get to know 1 900 million years of Finnish history in the best possible way – by cycling through it. The routes connect Geopark’s most significant places to visit and the most beautiful landscapes, as well as municipal centers and the best tourist services.

Photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva, Jämijärvi

The three long Traveller routes going along the roads offer overnight adventures for experienced cyclists. The shorter Enjoyer routes are suitable for day trips for families, for example. Real adventures await on the Adventurer routes on mountain bike trails. You can cycle to Geopark’s routes from EuroVelo 10 route and from Järvien reitit cycling routes.

Read more about Geopark’s cycling routes and cycling services on our website and in our brochure (both currently in Finnish).

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kihniö

Enjoy by the campfire

A snack by the campfire is one of the highlights of the nature trip. Make it luxury and order a ready meal for your family or group to the campfire, or grab a snack from the area’s cafes or restaurants.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Käskyvuori

There are lots of great places in Geopark to take a break by the campfire. Most sites have firewood freely available to visitors. Campfires are only allowed at marked campfire sites. Please notice that it is strictly prohibited to set fire during a forest or grass fire warning. Check the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s website for warnings. You can find the campfire sites on the map.

Photo: Niina Rautiainen / NR Visuals, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Spend the night in nature

Spend the night in a tent or hammock and experience the magical atmosphere of the Geopark’s summer nights and early mornings. Please note that camping in protected areas is only allowed in specific areas. You can find site-specific instructions on the nationalparks.fi website. There are also very nice commercial camping sites available in Geopark.

Photo: Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere, Korsukylä

UNIQUE SUMMER EVENTS AND VERSATILE TOURIST SERVICES

Geopark’s summer is full of events: open-air concerts and summer theater as well as art exhibitions and sports. Willi Karvia, for example, offers great concerts and theater experiences at the Skantz Cultural Center, of which architecture is inspired by a 17th-century fort.

Kankaanpää has a long Finnish baseball tradition. You can feel the atmosphere of the game in the arena of the team of Kankaanpään Maila.

Photo: Niina Rautiainen / NR Visuals, Skantz Cultural Center

During the summer, the villages of Geopark come to life. For example, cafes, restaurants, boutiques and farm shops attract tourists and residents of the area to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

Photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva, Karvia

Enjoy Geopark destinations on a guided tour. With an expert local guide, you’ll find the best routes and sites and hear related stories. With a guide, you will get the most out of your trip. Companies also rent equipment such as canoes and electric mountain bikes to your independent adventures.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Promote your well-being on a guided wellness trip to nature. Complete your nature experience in sauna and with pampering treatments. Relax in the soft steam of the smoke sauna or more common but still traditional sauna by a lake, for example. Enjoy the gentle treatments made with the peat of the area’s mires as well.

Read more on our webpage. You can also find the services on the map. You can easily buy experiences and services through the Geopark’s online store.

Photo: Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere, Kirkkokadun Hyvän Olon Keskus

GEOPARK IS AT ITS BEST IN THE SUMMER

SOME TOP PICKS FROM OUR CURRENT OFFER

Human in Nature event in August

The traditional Human in Nature event will be held in Parkano in late August. The theme of this year’s event is biodiversity. From Thursday to Sunday, the event offers a high-quality seminar, guided tours in Geopark, a tradition day at SyVilla and a family event at the Forest Museum. Read more on the Visit Parkano website.

Photo: Hanna Tuuri /Tuuri-Tiedotus, Parkano Forest Museum

Joyful gifts from More Joy

More Joy offers e.g. dishcloths with nature-themed patterns made out of natural fibers. Joyful patterns are created in collaboration with different designers or according to the customer’s wishes. In the factory store you will find both gifts and nice craft packages for children. Read more on the More Joy’s website.

Photo: More Joy

Rental equipment from Kesport Kauhajoki

Kesport Kauhajoki offers electric bicycle and sup board rental. In addition to rental equipment, you can buy all the necessary equipment for your active nature holiday in the shop. Read more on Kesport Kauhajoki’s website.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Lauhanvuori National Park

 

Outar offers experiences with natural colors

Outar offers courses (also online) related to natural colors. Natural colors are suitable for harmonious creative moments. From plants you can extract a lot of fascinating dyes that can be used in crafts and art in many ways.

For example, you may attend the Watercolors and Inks from Natural Colors course in Parkano on Saturday 11th of June. Prepare your own inks from plants and make paintings with them. In the course, you will learn how to make pigment powders, watercolors and inks from plants you have collected, as well as from plant color extracts. Read more on Outar’s website.

Photo: Ronja Kuokkanen / Outar

The Salaisen Puutarhan Majatalo Guesthouse and Valkoinen Puu Café & Shop

The guesthouse is located in Kauhajoki, in a former parsonage built in the 1890s, surrounded by a wild garden. The building has been luxuriously refurbished with a mix of Scandinavian bohemianism and antiques. The guesthouse offers six unique double rooms with soft beds and beautiful décor. Read more on the website of The Salaisen Puutarhan Majatalo Guesthouse.

Photo: The Salaisen Puutarhan Majatalo Guesthouse

Charming Valkoinen Puu Café & Shop is located just a bit over a kilometer from the the guesthouse. In the café you can enjoy delicacies made in the own bakery along the same street. The café’s cakes and pastries are known for their delicacy. Their authentic flavors are created with American and South Ostrobothnian family recipes and local ingredients. The most famous of the cakes is the Chocolate Cake of the Secret Garden, baked on an organic spelt and also served at the guesthouse’s breakfast. Read more on the website of Valkoinen Puu Café & Shop.

Photo: Valkoinen Puu Café & Shop

Meggala Winery

Meggala Winery produces high-quality, aromatic and tasty wines with a passion for professional winemaking and domestic ingredients. You can enjoy Meggala’s drinks at the farm’s own restaurant or buy from the farm shop. In the restaurant and café you can also enjoy snacks with coffee, for example. Meals are served on restaurant days and on request.

In the summer, you can take part in Meggala’s sparkling wine and beer yoga and summer bingo, or take part in a wine tasting and winery tour. During Midsummer, Meggala offers happy summer atmosphere, as people gather for the Midsummer market. Attend also karaoke terrace dance and taste local burgers. Read more on Meggala’s website.

Photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva

Visoko’s meditative videos

Take a meditative, about 15-minute virtual trip to Finnish nature with the help of Visoko’s videos. The virtual trip will deepen your connection with nature and you will respect nature more. Your vitality will increase, you will calm down and your stress management will improve. Get a 30% discount on videos in the Visoko’s online store with the code LHGeo. Read more on Visoko’s website.

Photo: Visoko

Experience authentic countryside in the Luomajärvi Horse Inn

Enjoy Southern Europe inspired meals in the Luomajärvi Horse Inn’s quality restaurant. Once a month in the summer, the inn’s restaurant serves delicious Spanish, Italian and French flavors.

The inn offers a wide range of summer activities in a real old-fashioned rural setting. There are e.g. children’s horseback riding, family-friendly Day at the Farm programs, rustic horse-drawn carriage rides and riding hikes available. You can also rent fatbikes and electric touring bikes for your individual adventures on Geopark’s cycling routes. Read more on the Luomajärvi Horse Inn’s website.

Photo: The Luomajärvi Horse Inn

Open Yards in Jämijärvi

Get into the local way of life in a small rural village of Jämijärvi on Saturday 11th of June. The residents open the gates of their yards to visitors and offer a wide range of activities such as flea markets pop-up cafes, concerts and craft workshops. Take part in a fishing competition or go on a boat trip on an old wooden boat. You can also climb the church tower with permission! You can find the map and timetable on the website of the organizer.

Photo: Tuomo Leikkola

Culture in the Finnish capital of art, Kankaanpää

Explore the unique Circle of Art by walking along the Art Trail or cycling around it. The Circle of Art consists of more than a hundred works of art permanently placed in the urban environment. IN the Circle of Art the work of art, the environment and the landscape meet in the finest possible way.

Kankaanpää Market Square is popular meeting place for the residents of wide region. The market is open all year round on Thursdays and also on summer Saturdays. At the end of the summer, the traditional Hörhiäisviikko event offers a wide range of music, art, sport, well-being and a nice market spirit. Read more on the City of Kankaanpää’s website.

Photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva

Kankaanpää Art Association’s brick workshops

Design your own brick in the Art Association’s workshop. The bricks will be placed in the brick wall of the Circle of Art. In May, the Kankaanpää Art Association organized these workshops. It is still possible to participate in the workshop on Saturday 28th af May from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Inquiries: Kankaanpää Art Association

Photo: Laura Koivumäki

GEOPARK IS CHARMING IN THE SUMMER

OUTDOOR ETIQUETTE

Please, always mind nature and other people during your nature trips. Respect nature in every way and keep your pets in leash. Prevent the waste in advance and bring your rubbish from the nature and sort them properly.

Please, use the marked routes that lead you to the best sites. Using marked trails prevent the harmful effects on nature elsewhere. Each mode of transport has its own routes. Stay in the terrain only in areas designated for camping. Read more on the website.

Photo: Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland, Outdoor Etiquette

EXPERIENCE THE GEOPARK THROUGH A FILM

Get to know the inhabitants, the culture and the nature of the area through the Geopark’s In a blink of an eye promotional film. What we see in a blink of an eye is the result of billions of years of geological evolution.

Watch the video on YouTube and enjoy!

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Siikainen

Main photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva

Other photos: Aili Raudla-Majakangas, Terttu Hermansson

#lhgeopark #unescoglobalgeoparks #europeangeoparks #finnishgeoparks  #unesco #twobillionyeartours #kahdenmiljardinvuodenmatkalla #outdoor #retkeily #luontomatkailu #pyörämatkailu #cyclingtourism #hyvinvointialuonnosta #taiteidenreitti #visittampere #visitlakeus #visitpori #visitsatakunta

WELCOME TO GEOPARK!

World Migratory Bird Day – observations in the Geopark area

For tired passers-by, Geopark’s tranquil forests, flood meadows and extensive marshes are safe rest areas.

Observations in the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area in the World Migratory Bird Day

When spring comes, tens of thousands of migratory birds can be seen in the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area. Some of them have returned to nesting in their birthplaces, while others just stop to rest and feed. For tired passers-by, Geopark’s tranquil forests, flood meadows and extensive marshes are safe rest areas.

Observations were made in different habitats

Participation in the World Migratory Bird Day on May 14, 2022 was considered important also in Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas Geopark. Bird watchers were encouraged to hike and take notes on the bird species observed. Observations were made from a wide range of different habitats: the Mustansaarenkeidas, which belongs to the Haapakeidas mire reserve, and the surrounding forest in Isojoki, the flood meadows and forests of the Viinikanjoki River in Parkano, and the shores and fields of the lakes in North Parkano.

Over 50 migratory bird species observed

On the World Migratory Bird Day, 62 different bird species were seen at selected sites. Of these, 51 were actual migratory birds. After a shorter or longer flight, they had ended up in the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area either to stay or to continue their journey after a break. Some migratory species, such as the whooper swan, had arrived in their nesting area very early. The lakes were still frozen at that time and there were few melted places. The last returnees, insectivores, had only arrived in the previous days. Their migration is still in progress, and the rest of the species are expected to return in the coming weeks while the weather is still warming.

Distant visitors

The longest migration was made by lightly flying Common terns wintering off the coast of southern Africa. Large Cranes, whose wintering areas are in the Blue Nile regions, in turn, skillfully use rising air currents to sail through the air toward their northern nesting sites. They are also early arrivals.

Tiny long-distance travelers

The small-sized insectivores seen in 11 different species achieve amazing performance. These species overwinter in different parts of Africa. For example, Pied Flycatcher, a general species for us, arrives from north of the rainforests of West Africa in May. Reminiscent of each other, but with completely different songs, the Willow Warbler and the Chiffchaff overwinter in the eastern and southern parts of Africa, as do the Sedge Warbler of the beaches.

Many of the skilled flyers, the waders, Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and Ruff, which were seen during the expeditions, also winter on the African continent. Especially seeing a flock of 35 Ruffs, which are now classified as very endangered, helped to believe in a better future for them, so that the requirements of migratory bird habitats are also known and the need for protection is taken into account.

Resting places during the migration are important

A total of 22 of the 51 migratory bird species observed are wintering in Africa. They will therefore have to cross the Mediterranean and most of them the Sahara desert on their migration in the spring and again in the autumn. At the same time, they cross the borders of many countries and also stop by in their traditional breaks in different countries.

Hopefully, resting and eating places along the way in different states and habitats at both extremes of arduous migration journeys will continue to be appropriate for them. This will be achieved through transnational cooperation, raising awareness of migratory birds, their migratory routes and the importance of places to eat and rest.

Text: Eira-Maija Savonen

Photos: Terttu Hermansson

WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY

Global Geoparks Network encourages its members to pay attention to the state of the world’s migratory birds and the changes that have taken place in their migratory routes.

WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY

May 14, 2022

Global Geoparks Network encourages its members to pay attention to the state of the world’s migratory birds and the changes that have taken place in their migratory routes, and to organize events to highlight these issues.

At the initiative of the United Nations, World Migratory Bird Day has been celebrated twice a year since 2006, in May and October on the second Saturday of the month. That’s when spring and autumn migration of birds are usually at their peak.

LIGHT POLLUTION – THEME OF THE YEAR

The aim of the World Migratory Bird Day events is to raise public awareness of the importance of international cooperation in the conservation of migratory birds. Migratory birds do not care about border formalities when traveling but use the airspace of numerous states and even cross entire continents.

Although the migratory journeys of birds are long, many species progress in short stretches of day and rest in between. So, they need safe, undisturbed, species-specific resting and dining areas. Based on the implementation of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), action will be taken worldwide to promote the safe migration of birds.

The World Migratory Bird Day 2022 campaign focuses on “light pollution,” which has been found to cause problems, especially for nocturnal insectivorous birds.

WHERE DO THE BIRDS FLY?

About 250 different bird species nest in Finland. The number of birds living here is estimated at about 100 million. Admittedly, it varies greatly with the seasons, as more than 80 % of the species that nest here migrate elsewhere.

Some birds only move as much as they are forced to. For example, swans and the hardest waterfowl move further south only that the body of water remains thawed. Other species, on the other hand, make very long migratory journeys, such as the Arctic Tern, which migrates from the extreme, arctic regions of the north to the fringes of the Antarctic. The length of the journey can be up to 20,000 km twice a year. The weight of the bird is about 100 g. And the Common Tern, not bad either, it migrates from the home lake to southern Africa to spend the winter.

TO AFRICA FOR WINTER

Numerous bird species in the northern hemisphere move south to the equator for the winter. Species flying to southern Africa will have to cross a vast, demanding Sahara Desert. So do our Common house martins, which weigh only 15-23 g. If there is no peaceful oasis with drinking places along the way, the trip can end short.

Many other insectivores are also migrating to Africa. Among other things, all the Northern wheatears in the world – including the Finns – overwinter there. Thus, on the American continent, Northern wheatears nesting in Alaska travel about 14,500 km across Asia to central Africa. A Whinchat that nests on the outskirts of meadows in Finland spends its winter in the savannahs of Africa with lions and zebras. The osprey, on the other hand, fishes in the African lakes during the winter season.

TRANSIENT BIRDS

In addition to leaving our own migratory birds in the autumn and arriving in the spring, Finland is also a transit country for many bird species. The passage of Arctic waders, Long-tailed ducks, Common scoters and Velvet scoters can reach millions of individuals. Today, several hundred flocks leave the migration of hundreds of thousands of geese to feed in Finnish fields. Before, Barnacle geese used to fly by, now, some of them stay here to nest.

Wading birds in the Arctic tend to migrate to the southern hemisphere. Almost 20 species of water and shorebirds in the Arctic coastal region regularly migrate across Finland. They do not nest here but remain on the shallow seashore for long periods of time, especially during the autumn migration. Among other things, on the beach sludge in the autumn, the Curlew sandpiper does not nest or overwinter anywhere in Europe, but it does stop by to eat.

MIGRATORY BIRDS NEED SAFE REST AREAS

FINNISH BIRDS – OUR OWN OR GUESTS FROM FAR COUNTRIES?

So where is the “home” of the migratory bird? Is it in a nesting area in Finland, or perhaps in a wintering area in the Mediterranean countries / Africa / Asia? Why does it go on such a long and arduous journey at all, where it is exposed to many dangers? It can catch prey on its way or be killed by a person shooting birds for fun. The traditional resting and dining places of its migration route may have turned into a built-up area with no more room for an exhausted little bird. So why go far north to nest? Wouldn’t a closer place be found for reproduction?

The northern spring and early summer have some characteristics that help the nesting succeed: in the spring and early summer, the air is “thick” with flying insects, so there is enough food for the hatching chicks. In the long, bright night in the north, mothers can feed their chicks at night as well. The chicks of many bird species would not survive the tropics’ 12-hour night without feeding. Among other things, these reasons cause birds to return to their birthplace, their “home,” repeatedly.

CHANGES IN BIRDS INDICATE CHANGES IN THE ENVIRONMENT

More than a third of the bird species nesting in Finland have declined. Birds wintering in Africa and Asia in particular, as well as birds nesting in the farmland and northern bird species, are declining alarmingly. The populations of species nesting in wetlands and agglomerations began to decline in the early 2000s. Migratory species suffer most often man-made deterioration of living conditions during the migratory period and in wintering areas. The former resting and eating places may have been completely lost, for example due to construction. There is therefore a need for international cooperation to ensure safe migration routes for birds.

LAUHANVUORI – HÄMEENKANGAS GEOPARK PROVIDES A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR MIGRATORY BIRDS

Geopark areas contribute to the adequacy and safety of nesting and resting areas. In the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area, there are bogs on Metsähallitus’ lands where moving is forbidden during the nesting and migration period of birds. Restrictions are also needed to allow birds to rest during the autumn migration in Kauhaneva. The purpose of the marked trails and duckboard paths is to ensure nesting peace also outside the restricted areas.

Organized by BirdLife Finland and carried out by regional bird associations, the most important bird gathering areas in each province (winter and migratory feeding and resting areas and areas for molting of feathers) have been identified. In the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area, there are 11 of these regionally important bird areas, in addition to the two already known nationally important bird areas, Puurokeidas – Hannankeidas and Häädetkeidas Nature Park + Keidaslammit ponds. The identification of migratory breeding areas and migration routes is particularly important so that they can be considered in social decision-making, such as zoning, and so that the birdlife important values ​​of the areas are not inadvertently degraded.

More information on migratory bird routes and resting areas is needed. Thus, Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark invites bird enthusiasts in the area to participate in the World Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

 

Text: Eira-Maija Savonen

Photos: Terttu Hermansson

Main image: World Migratory Bird Day

Safety on a hiking trip

Trails invite you to walk - hike safely in Lauhanvuori - Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark

The paths and routes of the hiking destinations in the UNESCO Global Geopark area of Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas are mostly maintained by Metsähallitus. There are also routes in the area that are maintained by, for example, municipalities or cities. You can find tips for safe hiking on this page. Also check out the Hiking guide of Metsähallitus, Parks and Wildlife.

Before the hiking trip

Get to know the excursion destination in advance with the help of www.nationalparks.fi and www.excursionmap.fi. Download the 112 Suomi application to your phone, and if you plan to use your phone for off-road navigation, for example with the map application, make sure you have enough power with the power bank. Book a first aid kit and learn how to use it. Preferably move around in a group, making it easier to get help in the event of a problem. If you go out on the road alone, tell your family or comrades about your plan.

If you are going on a route, find out the location of the starting point of the route and find out in advance how to get there. Book the necessary lunch and drinks. The towns in the Geopark area have grocery stores, cafes and shops, so you get the freshest lunch when you buy them along the way.

Difficulty of routes

The hiking trails in nature vary in level. The majority of the routes in the area are easy to navigate – especially in Lauhanvuori National Park and Hämeenkangas, the routes run mainly on dry soil in pine forests, where the terrain is relatively flat.

Wet sections of the route are usually equipped with duckboards or a gravel bed – they are quite easy to navigate, but the duckboards can be slippery in wet weather.

The most demanding paths are the routes through the rocky lands, such as the Alkkianvuori or Susiluola paths, which are moderately demanding based on the route classification. On these routes, a healthy footer is comfortable, but the terrain poses challenges in some places due to, for example, rocky ground or height differences on the path.

Most of the hiking trails in the Geopark area are short, less than 10 km long. However, by combining different routes, it is possible to increase the length – for example, on Lauhanvuori you can go on a hike of about 25 km. If you are looking for a longer route, you can head to Paroonin Taival – from Parkano station to the route that extends to Seitseminen National Park. There are no long hiking trails in the Geopark area.

Accessible routes

Most of the barrier-free routes in the Geopark area are demanding barrier-free routes. They can therefore be travelled with assistance. Of the services along the route, toilets and cooking shelters, for example, are usually also accessible. The specialty of the Geopark area is the barrier-free bird tower in Mustansaarenkeidas. Accessible routes are also suitable for prams.

The accessibility of the sites maintained by Metsähallitus has been improved in recent years and their classification is being actively developed. Check the latest information on accessibility of services at www.nationalparks.fi.

Be safe on trails

Safe natural attractions

The routes take the traveler to natural attractions and various destinations. As such, the natural attractions of the geopark area are safe and there is no risk of falling if you stay on well-established and marked trails. In the Geopark area, the greatest risks in terms of site safety are related to tripping or tipping over and falling into the water. However, the realization of a risk most often requires deviating from the route or taking conscious risks.

However, if you notice safety deficiencies on a marked route, report them to the route administrator. At sites maintained by Metsähallitus, notification can be made by e-mail to [email protected]

Weather and climate

The Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark area is located in western Finland, in the southern part of the Suomenselkä watershed area. From the Bohtnian coast inland, the ground level  rises relatively quickly to almost 200 meters above sea level. This affects the climate and weather in the area. In the highlands it rains a lot and the weather is often cooler than in the lower areas.

In the highlands, snowy winters are quite common. The mires in the area are often frozen in mid-winter, making them easy to move around. On the slopes of Lauhanvuori, there may be a thick snow still on May Day, and in the landscapes of Hämeenkangas and Pohjankangas, roads and trail bottoms are covered with snow and ice when there are leaves on birch trees further south. Otherwise, the weather conditions are similar to those elsewhere in southern Finland.

You can check the weather-related warnings from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Photo: Sofia Sillanpää

Finding your way

The routes in the Geopark area are generally marked on the terrain with path signs and coloured marks. The signs tell you what kind of outdoor activity the route is for. Some routes have signs only and no paint markings. At Metsähallitus’ sites, route markings are now carried out with colored signs affixed to the trees. The color of the waypoint is usually the same as the color of the route on the destination guide map.

On some routes, the marking method is a traditional paint sign on a tree or a separate pole erected on the ground to which the sign is painted or attached. There is not necessarily a separate marking on the longitudinal routes, as following the longitudinal trees, the walker will be sure to stay on the route.

Maps will also help you along the way. Apps with good terrain maps are available for mobile devices, some of which also have a navigation feature. On longer trips, the safest of digital solutions is a separate GPS device that is not dependent on the mobile phone network – spare batteries are easily carried in a backpack when needed. The best navigational aids are the traditional terrain map and the compass.

Enjoy the nature

Camping

Camping in National parks is allowed at marked camping sites listed in the area’s guide maps and in www.nationalparks.fi. In Hämeenkangas, camping is freer, but it is recommended to camp in connection with managed resting sites. As a rule, camping in nature reserves is limited.

Campsites usually have space for a few tents, a fireplace with firewood provided, a dry toilet nearby and a table for cooking. Not all fireplaces are permitted for camping – check the information provided if unsure. Some but not all all campsites have fresh water.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku

Resting places

There are numerous rest areas in the Geopark area – lean-to shelters, campfire sites, cooking shelters, lapp-huts and even some wilderness huts. Some of the lean-to shelters are also suitable for camping, but most of the maintained rest areas are designed for day use and may not always have a toilet or water source, for example. Check the services of the rest places at www.nationalparks.fi.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku

Drinking water

There are several drinking water points in the area’s national parks. An up-to-date information on their water quality can be found at www.nationalparks.fi and in the water quality bulletin connected to the well. There are also springs in the area, the water of which can be used as drinking water at your own risk. However, most of the water bodies in the area are brown and humus-rich and their water is not suitable for drinking water. Tip: a light water purifier is a good addition to be packed for at least overnight trips to purify drinking water.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson / Metsähallitus

Food

In the outdoor conditions , dining in the restaurant is not always possible. In Hämeenkangas, along the routes, there are restaurant services at Kuninkaanlähde and Jämi, Lauhanvuori, at the Lauhansarvi Nature Tourist Center. It is possible to buy picnic packages from the accommodation services. It is possible to supplement your own snacks on the way to the destination, there are grocery stores in the area’s towns.

Rest areas in the area usually have the option to cook food on open fire, but the use of fire is limited during a forest fire alert. The easiest and safest way to get food warm is with a camping stove.

After the trip, it is also nice to visit a cafe or restaurant and gain strength for the trip home.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku

Toilets

There is often a toilet building associated with serviced restroom structures. Traditional dry toilets at the most popular destinations are slowly giving way to new closed tank toilets. There is no toilet paper provided, so pack a roll if you plan to go for a constitutional.

You're not alone

Fauna

In the geopark, moving around in nature is relatively carefree and safe. This is despite the fact that all large carnivores that live in Finnish nature are also found in Western Finland today. However, they dodge people. Indeed, hikers are mainly affected by insects.

There are few mosquitoes on dry heathlands, and more on mire and near wetlands. In midsummer, on the mires, the walker is also bothered by horse flies and black flies, and in the summer evenings you can also get to know the midges on the shores of the lakes.

Those traveling around the springs, grove-like habitats and beaches should be protected from ticks. The area is not one of the worst tick areas in Finland, but those who travel in nature should still take a daily tick check into their evening routines.

In late summer, deer flies also occur in the area, but their numbers also vary depending on the destination – there are few deer flies in popular outdoor areas, but there are more in quiet locations.

Wasps and other stinging insects belong to Finnish nature. Resting structures and, for example, barns provide shelter for nesting insects.

The common European adder is the only venomous snake found in Finland. In the natural sites of the Geopark area, you can meet them almost anywhere – in addition to the rocky lands, snakes can move around mires in the early summer. This is especially important if you move around in the wild with a pet, such as a dog.

If you come across a large mammal while hiking in the terrain, it is most likely an elk. In addition to the fast and smooth elk moving in the terrain, you can also see forest reindeer, especially in Lauhanvuori. You will probably also see white-tailed deer in the fields.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku

Pets

Pets are welcome in the Geopark area, but they must always be kept on a leash. In the hunting season there can be freely roaming hunting dogs in some areas – generally in late autumn. However, hunting is prohibited in national parks.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

Winter trips

The destinations in the Geopark area are also well suited for winter trips. There are a skiing track networks maintained in Lauhanvuori National Park and Hämeenkangas, among others. The mires in the area are the good destinations for off-the-track skiing. Hills with rocky terrain, on the other hand, are perfect for snowshoeing. Camping sites in the national parks also serve in the winter – however, you usually need your own accommodation to spend the night outside, as there is only one wilderness hut in the area.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki

Text: Pasi Talvitie

Photos: Pasi Talvitie, unless otherwise stated

Enjoy the winter Geopark

Welcome to the winter Geopark! Explore the snow covered untouched mires with snowshoes, ski on trails and have fun on mighty sledding hills. Have snacks by a campfire and let the winter nature charm you. Enjoy the services offered by the Geopark companies and relax!

SKI ON TRAILS AND ON YOUR OWN PATHS

There are hundreds of kilometers of well-maintained ski trails in the Geopark. Take calm and enjoy the scenery or raise your heartbeat in varying terrains. Read more about Geopark’s ski trails in our article

Photo: Heini Tolvanen, Lauhanvuori National Park

Ski on an untouhched snow covered mires and experience the peace and quietness of winter nature. With wide and long forest skis, for example, you can reach places that are not accessible while the ground isn’t frozen and covered by snow. In summertime they can be too watery or they are protected areas for nesting birds and thus prohibited areas. Read more about skiing in the mire in our article.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

It is very important to pay attention to safety on mires in winter. There may be watery and submersible spots under the snow. You must therofore be able to “read the terrain” and assess the conditions under the snow on the basis of them. It is safest to go to the snowy mire with a local guide. You can find service providers on our Activities page.

Photo: Kari Leo, Kauhanevan-Pohjankankaan kansallispuisto

CREATE YOUR OWN ROUTES WITH SNOWSHOES

You can also explore the winter nature of the Geopark with snowhoes or skinbased skis. Hike and visit destinations, even if the trails are covered by snow. Create your own routes and find fascinating places outside the trails.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku, Hyyppä Valley

Take an expert local guide with you for snowshoe adventures. With the guide, you will find the best destinations and routes and hear stories related to them. A local guide will ensure the safety of your trip. You can find guides on our Activities page.

Photo: Matti Hautalahti, Kammi Village

RENT SNOWSHOES

SNOWSHOES

Jämi area: Jämikeskus (in Finnish), Jämi Sports (in Finnish), Korsuretket (in Finnish) and the Luomajärvi Horse Inn 

Kauhajoki: The city of Kauhajoki (in Finnish)

Lauhanvuori area: Lauhansarvi, Taikapolku and the municipality of Isojoki (in Finnish)

Parkano: SyVilla, the city of Parkano (in Finnish)

SKINBASED SKIS

Jämi area: Jämi Sports (in Finnish)

Kankaanpää: Meggala (in Finnish)

Lauhanvuori area: Taikapolku

Photo: Juha Rantanen / Jämi Sports

WINTER CYCLING IS A GREAT EXPERIENCE

You can also go winter cycling in the Geopark! There is a 23 km long fatbike route in Jämi maintained in winter exclusively for cyclists. Ride a bike in the ridge landscapes of Hämeenkangas, admire the Uhrinlähde and Kylmänmyllynlähde springs that are lively all year round, and take a nice break by a campfire.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Hämeenkangas

For more information on the Jämi winter cycling route, contact the Jämi Maat company that maintains the trail. You can also rent there electric fatbikes, which makes driving a route a pleasure. If the surface of the trail is hard enough, a mountain bike will also do well on the route.

Photo: Hanna Mäkinen / Jämi Maat

RENT A BICYCLE

In the Jämi area: Jämikeskus, mountain bikes (in Finnish), Jämi Maat, electric fatbikes (in Finnish), Jämi Sports, fatbikes and mountain bikes (in Finnish) and Luomajärvi Horse Inn, fatbikes and mountain bikes

In Kihniö: Pyhäniemi Wellbeing, electric fatbikes

In the Lauhanvuori area: Isojoen eläinhoitola, fatbikes (in Finnish)

In Parkano: the city of Parkano, fatbikes (in Finnish)

In Siikainen: Tourist Center Eteläpää, fatbikes (in Finnish)

Photo: Jonna Helin Photography, Pyhäniemi Wellbeing

ENJOY THE SLEDDING HILLS

Both kids and the grown-ups go wild in the spectacular sledding hills of the Geopark, which can be found all over the area. Choose the nearest one or test several! Read more in our article.

Photo: Jari Salonen / NaturPro Films, Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland

Sledding will make you hungry for sure. It is so nice to sit down for a while and enjoy some snacks by the campfire. After sledding, enjoy a proper meal in a restaurant or treats in a café or take with you.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Lauhanvuori National Park

Tour skating on tracks

Tour skating on a track is a very nice winter activity. Try ice skating at the Kauhajoki baseball stadium skating rink or on the slightly shorter course at Filppula School (in Finnish). Rent touring skates from Kesport Kauhajoki (in Finnish). Ordinary skates also work great.

There is also a skating track in Kankaanpää at the Riviera (in Finnish).

On the ice of Lake Jämijärvi, a wonderful skating track is maintained according to the ice and snow conditions. You can get information about the situation on the track, for example, from the municipality of Jämijärvi (in Finnish). Currently, there is so much snow on the ice that the route is not in use.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Jämijärvi

Have fun in the snowy Geopark nature

AT YOUR SERVICE

Companies in our area make sure that your visit to the Geopark is as relaxing and successful as possible. Treat yourself in cafes and restaurants or buy ready-made snacks for your nature trips. In the farm shops and boutiques you will find local delicacies, such as fruit wines and lamb sausages, as well as local handicrafts such as Geo sauna elves and hand-made ceramics.

Photo: Ronja Kuokkanen / Outar

Try relaxing wellness services such as peat baths and massages. Also relax in the soft steam in an authentic smoke sauna, for example. Stay in a hotel, inn, or cottage. Quality accommodation options for a wide range of needs are available. Check out our company’s services on our website. You can also easily buy experiences in Geopark’s online store.

Photo: Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere, Kirkkokadun Hyvän Olon Keskus

SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CURRENT OFFER

SALAISEN PUUTARJAN MAJATALO INN AND VALKOINEN PUU CAFE

Stay in the Salaisen Puutarhan Majatalo Inn in Kauhajoki, in a beautifully decorated 19th-century rectory. The inn is located in a rural setting near the services of the town. Visit for example the Katikankanjoni ravine in Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park. After the hiking enjoy hot drinks and delicious stuffed sandwiches and lovely cakes at Valoinen Puu Cafe. Read more on the Inn’s website and Valkoinen Puu’s website.

Photo: Salaisen Puutarhan Majatalo Inn

PERFECT WINTER HOLIDAY AT SYVILLA

Spend a winter holiday of your dreams in SyVilla! In SyVilla you will stay in a cozy setting, relax in the saunas and in the outdoor bath in the peace of nature by the Kovesjärvi lake. The main building accomodates ten people. Hike to a little island and sit by a campfire. Ski on the nearby trails or on the ice of the lake. You can also explore the environment with snowshoes. Read more on SyVilla’s website.

Photo: Hannu Raitio / SyVilla

TAIKAPOLKU TAKES YOU INTO WINTER NATURE WITH SNOWSHOES

Taikapolku takes you on a snowshoe adventures to the enchanting winter nature of Lauhanvuori National Park, the Hyypänjoki Valley and other Geopark destinations. With snowshoes, you’ll find new places outside of the trails. Walk calmly in varied terrain and enjoy nature. Snacks by a campfire will make the atmosphere. Read more on the Taikapolku’s website. You can easily buy your experiences in the online store.

Photo: Ismo Nousiainen / Taikapolku, Lauhanvuori National Park

VISIT THE MILITARY MUSEUM KARHUMÄKI

At the Military Museum Karhumäki, weapons and other artefacts tell you about the wartime history. One of the attractionsis the Mig-21 fighter plane. There is also a village shop museum where you will experience the atmosphere of the 1960s and 70s. The Karhumäki Military Museum is open every week during winter holiday weeks 9 and 10. Read more on the Karhumäki Military Museum’s website.

Photo: Military Museum Karhumäki

Relaxing holiday in Lauhansarvi

Spend a wonderful winter holiday in Lauhansarvi next to Lauhanvuori National Park. Stay in a quality holiday villa and relax in the saunas. Enjoy the traditional smoke sauna, for example, take a peat treatment or choose a sauna with a hot tub. Read more on Lauha’s website and book your accommodation and sauna experience online.

Photo: Lauhatuotanto

Winter in Meggala Winery

Join the winery’s happy winter atmosphere in February! Meggala offers drinks as well as good food and mood and outdoor activities.

  • Afterwork on Fridays from 11.2., happy hour from 4 pm to 6 pm
  • On the restaurant day 12.2.moose stew and mashed potatoes as well as salmon soup are available
  • Moon trip to Sinahmi with snowshoes 19.2.
  • Shrovetide on 27.2.; sledding, horse riding, buns, hot chocolate etc.

More information from the farm’s hostess Sofia Latvajärvi, tel. +358 50 355 3878 and from Meggala’s website

Photo: Winery Meggala

The Geopark companies provide varied services

ENJOY BY A CAMPFIRE

The highlight of a nature trip is to sit and have snacks by a campfire. You can buy ready-made delicacies from the area’s cafés and restaurants. Be enchanted by the blaze of the campfire and listen  to the sounds of the surrounding nature in peace.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie / Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

There are many nice campfire sites in the Geopark area which are for visitors free to use. You can find these places on the Retkikartta map service and on the Geopark municipalities’ own webpages. Making a campfire is allowed only in designated spots. Please also pay attention to Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland’s Covid-19 instructions and mind the Outdoor Etiquette.

Photo: Metsähallitus, Outdoor Etiquette

EXPERIENCE THE GEOPARK THROUGH A FILM

Get to know the inhabitants, the culture and the nature of the area through the Geopark’s In a blink of an eye promotional film. What we see in a blink of an eye is the result of billions of years of geological evolution.

Watch the video on YouTube and enjoy!

Photo: from the film

Main photo: Terttu Hermansson, Haapakeidas

Other photos: Terttu Hermansson, Pasi Talvitie

#lhgeopark #unescoglobalgeoparks #europeangeoparks #finnishgeoparks  #unesco #outdoor #retkeily #luontomatkailu #pyörämatkailu #cyclingtourism #hyvinvointialuonnosta #taiteidenreitti #visittampere #visitlakeus #visitpori #visitsatakunta

Welcome to the winter Geopark!

Quiet life of winter in Geopark – On skis to the mire

The mystical mires are easy to explore in winter, for example on skis. The skis provide access to places that are inaccessible during melted ground.

On skis to Huidankeidas

The mystical nature of mire is easy to explore in winter, for example on skis. They provide access to places that are inaccessible during melted ground – partly because they cannot be reached and because many wetlands are nesting areas for birds where you are not allowed to go. So is Huidankeidas.

Huidankeidas is located in Honkajoki, and there is a guided route from Siikaistentie via Haukantie. The road leading to the parking area of Huidankeidas is kept open in winter. I drove there and skied first along the path to the observation tower.

Cross-country skiing

The trail had not been walked since the previous snowfall, so I got to ski in thick unbroken snow. The landscape was really beautiful, the sun was shining low, how it can shine in January, and painted warm shades on top of the trees.

Birch grove

On the edge of Huidankeidas, there is a magnificent birch grove where the trees curved from the weight of the snow. In 1959, there was a conflagration in the area of the municipalities of Honkajoki and Isojoki, and the birch grove was born after that. In summer, it is a paradise for small birds.

Peaceful mire

The mire opened bold and calm, clean crust shining in the sun. There was no sound. I continued southeast of the tower near the edge of the mire, sometimes over the pools on solid ice and over the hummocks, sometimes diving between stunted pines. Gradually, traces of life began to appear.

Traces on the snow

An ermine had wandered on the surface of the snow purposefully. Small pairs of traces ran across the hummocks as a regular ribbon. The ermine keeps the little rodents in check, but it can also catch rabbits by biting its prey into its neck. The ermine has also been seen caught in the throat of a capercaillie.

Soon I found myself in the middle of a suburb of the black grouse. There were numerous hollows and corridors here and there, and there were also droppings in the pits, revealing to whom the beds belonged. Sufficient amount of soft snow means a favorable winter for the black grouse. It gets to rest out of reach of birds of prey and the cold.

To Huidansalo

At the edge of the mire, traces of a hare crisscrossed. They didn’t seem to lead anywhere, they just ended. The hare is a cunning guy, as it makes a comeback by walking its own footprints a little further back and then jumping to the side. Thus, it misleads potential predators.

The rabbit had dug up the snow to the ground to find something to eat. Fortunately, the snow was soft, so it had gotten in easily.

I skied to Huidansalo, which seemed interesting on the map. It is a “foreland” at the edge of a mire, gentle undulating terrain with ridges of dunes and ancient embankments. There were several elegant deadwoods on the edge of the mire, and on the dry land side began a magnificent, spacious pine forest. Immediately at the edge of the pine forest, the capercaillie had scampered back and forth. I followed its traces a little way if I had seen it, but I soon gave up the chase.

Quiet pine forest

In the pine forest I heard only a woodpecker tapping, all the little birds were conspicuously absent. The weather was quite cold, it was over ten degrees below zero and it started to get a little windy, so the smaller birds were definitely in more sheltered woods.

Surprise on top of a tree

After enjoying a packed lunch I returned and still admired the peace of the mire and the fine colors of the sky. On the way back between Honkajoki and Siikainen, I noticed a capercaillie eating at the top of a pine tree. It uses the needles of weak and old pines for food, as they contain less resin substances that impair digestion. The capercaillie cock  on top of a frosty tree is called “frost capercaillie”. It is a term especially familiar to hunters.

Although the mire looks quiet in winter, there are plenty of traces and signs of biodiversity in the harsh conditions. The stories are written on the surface of the snow, and passing slowly you may see the ones who have made the traces. The sparse soundscape also speaks its own language. Welcome to the mystical mires of the Geopark on bright winter days – and moonlit nights!

Text and photos: Terttu Hermansson

LOCAL NATURE AND CULTURAL LANDSCAPE MADE INTO A MOVIE

The movie ”NÄÄ MAAT, NÄÄ MANNUT – MEIDÄN KAUHAJOKI” ("these lands, these places - our Kauhajoki”) produced by Kauhajoki-Seura is a product of volunteer work and love, made as a tribute to the region and its nature.

These lands, these places

The movie ”NÄÄ MAAT, NÄÄ MANNUT – MEIDÄN KAUHAJOKI” (“these lands, these places – our Kauhajoki”) produced by Kauhajoki-Seura premiered in Bio Marlon in autumn 2021. The movie is a product of volunteer work and love, made as a tribute to the region and its nature. The filmmakers were happy when the audience found the film and new showings needed to be added, one after another. The popularity of the film also contributed to their biggest wish: that the experiences shown in the film would inspire to cherish our ancient heritage and go explore the diverse environment of our home region.

The film is based on Kauhajoki’s exceptionally extensive local heritage literature that covers over 100 titles. In particular, its nature and the cultural landscape are described thoroughly in a series of five books: Kauhajoen luonnonkirja (“The book of Kauhajoki nature”, 1983); Kauhajoen vesien kirja (“The book of Kauhajoki waters”, 1991); Kauhajoen metsien ja soiden kirja (“The book of Kauhajoki forests and mires”, 1999); Hämes-Havunen (2006); and Kauhajoen kulttuurimaisemien kirja (“The book of the cultural landscapes of Kauhajoki”, 2012). The books were also a marvel of volunteer efforts: every one of the approximately 100 authors wrote articles about their area of expertise without compensation. The same applied to the dozens of photographers. The books were also published and the editions of 2,000-3,000 books were sold as volunteer work by the Lions clubs.

The books are a source of many wonderful discoveries. What the bedrock tells about the history of our entire planet and the soil about the many glacial periods; What the brown trout in headwaters and the herb-rich forests by the brooks reveal about the groundwaters. The list could go on and on: the power of erosion, the breathtaking grand mires, the cultural landscapes of the Hyypänlaakso valley and the open terrain…

Over the decades, the books have provided a lot of information. Some of them only exist as archive copies now. Suddenly, there was a need to preserve them for younger generations and open the treasure trove of knowledge to the communal use of all interested parties using digital methods, both as a traditional reading experience and through editing from substantial data material. This work received Leader support from the Suupohja Development Association. The work was also motivated by the Geopark project, which is a joint project between local authorities and Metsähallitus, which presents the unique characteristics of our nature to an international audience. Maybe we could support that too.

In spring 2019, the Kauhajoki tutuksi (“Get to know Kauhajoki”) website was completed at www.kauhajoki.net. At the heart of the website are the digitized local heritage books with featured photos and videos. The videos were considered important from the start of the digital project. The goal of creating about ten videos seemed to be very ambitious at first but as the enthusiasm of the participants grew, the efforts resulted in 11 videos. The videos were created by 20 active filmmakers, screenwriters, cinematographers, editors, narrators and recorders. Some of the music was written specifically for them. As the videos were starting to take shape, the filmmaking team got the idea to also create a movie that audiences could see on the large cinema screen.

It was time to return to the roots of local heritage work – volunteering. Compiling the videos into a film required an interesting beginning, narration leading from one subject to another, new video material, more music and an emotional ending. At the same time, it had to be accepted that there would be some repetition, as it was not in the plans to re-edit the independent videos. Pentti Kakkori, an expert in photography and film, took the responsibility for this work. The many creations of the previous cinematographers also helped add to the new imagery.  Pentti also received the support he needed for narrations and music from other friends of the region. All names appear in the end credits. Pentti says he’s very grateful to all of them.

So, what do movie audiences think after 70 minutes? It’s easy to sense that the region is dear to the audiences, and they were focused and interested when watching the movie based on the familiar landscapes. Even the repetitions were welcomed. Practice makes perfect, and so does repetition!

 

The article is written by Liisa Ruismäki, Chairperson of Kauhajoki-Seura (Kauhajoki Association) and Jussi Kleemola (in the photo), Chair of the admin group of the “Kauhajoki tutuksi” website (“Get to know Kauhajoki”)

Photos: Pentti Kakkori

Photo at the top: Mirja Koivisto

Photo beneath: Terttu Hermansson

"It’s easy to sense that the region is dear to the audiences."

Lapväärtin-Isojoki watershed and water vision

The Lapväärtin-Isojoki watershed originates from the springs and streams of Lauhanvuori National Park. The valuable river basin district has been been under restoration through the Freshabit LIFE IP project, and a strategic plan, a water vision, is being drawn up for the watershed.

Lapväärtin-Isojoki watershed

The Lapväärtin-Isojoki watershed is located in the provinces of Southern Ostrobothnia, Ostrobothnia and Satakunta, and the river flows in the area of six municipalities: Kauhajoki, Isojoki, Karijoki, Kristiinankaupunki, Teuva and Siikainen. A small part of the watershed is also located in the area of the city of Kankaanpää (Honkajoki). The watershed covers an area of 1,098 km2 and belongs to the Kokemäki-Archipelago Sea – Bothnian Sea water management area.

 

The Lapväärtin-Isojoki watershed originates from the springs and streams of Lauhanvuori National Park and flows into the Bothnian Sea south of Kristiinankaupunki. The estuary consists of several small islands and the water bodies and canals between them.

 

The main river basin and the main tributaries comprise seven parts: Isojoki, Pajuluoma (in the photo), Heikkilänjoki, Karijoki, Metsäjoki, the lower part of the Lapväärtinjoki and Kärjenjoki. The part above the main river is called the Isojoki River and the lower part is called Lapväärtinjoki. The Lapväärtin-Isojoki river changes its nature from narrow natural headwaters to meandering river estuaries and a wide estuary. The largest tributary of the Kärjenjoki is called Siiroonjoki at upper reaches and Lillå at downstream. The length of the main river is 75 km and the total length of the most significant tributaries is about 115 km. In addition, the water body includes a large number of small streams. The percentage of lakes in the watershed area is only 0.2 %, the largest lakes are Haapajärvi (52 ha) and Kangasjärvi (47 ha).

 

Lapväärtin-Isojoki is a very important watershed due to its natural state, fisheries and biodiversity. The most important natural values of the river valley are related to both the habitat and the species. The most valuable habitats are the natural river route, including natural streams and rapids, significant old natural forests along the river bank, and provincially valuable bogs. Based on their endangerment, the most valuable species are the pearl mussel and the sea trout. From the point of view of conservation value, threats in the area include erosion, flooding, embankment, drainage, dredging, surface water pollution, water dam, immigrant species and climate change.

Restoration activities with the Freshabit LIFE IP project

The Freshabit LIFE IP project aims to improve the condition and diversity of Natura 2000 river basins. The large-scale nature conservation project will restore inland waters, rivers and streams and improve the living conditions and environments of hundreds of species. Freshabit Life IP – Ostrobothnia’s rivers sub-project includes the Lapväärtin-Isojoki, Karvianjoki and Lapväärtin-Isojoki upper reaches and the Ähtäväjoki river.

During the project, several restoration and water and species protection measures have been implemented in Lapväärtin-Isojoki. The project has, for example, rehabilitated streams, revitalized declining river mussel stocks, built fishing routes, wetlands, surface drainage fields and various water protection structures to reduce the load on water bodies.

The project is scheduled for 2016–2022 and is coordinated by Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland. The project has received funding from the EU’s LIFE program. In the Ostrobothnia region, the actors are the Southern Ostrobothnia Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, Metsähallitus, the Finnish Forest Centre, the Finnish Environment Institute, the University of Oulu, the Natural Resources Institute Finland and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation in Ostrobothnia.

Water vision of Lapväärtin-Isojoki watershed

A water vision for the Lapväärtin-Isojoki watershed will be developed in extensive co-operation with the support of the Freshabit LIFE IP project. The purpose of the water vision is to bring together the inhabitants of the area and the actors in various fields and to draw up a vision for the use and condition of the water system that extends into the future. The water vision has common objectives and measures aimed at coordinating, among other things, flood risk management, the use of water resources, water management, the protection of biodiversity and fisheries on the Lapväärtin-Isojoki river. In addition, efforts will be made to create regional commitment to activities and to raise awareness of water-related issues, taking into account the region’s nature tourism and business activities.

The Southern Ostrobothnia Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, the Lapväärtin-Isojoki River Basin Planning Working Group and a wide range of local stakeholders, for example from the economy, are involved in the implementation of the water vision. The water vision has been created in joint workshops, and a nature photo competition and library exhibition have also been organized. Water Vision has also hidden geocaches in the watershed.

More information about the water vision can be found on the vesivatten.org website. You can also check out the Story Map of the Lapväärtin-Isojoki water vision (ArcGIS Online), which presents the Lapväärtin-Isojoki watershed and its drainage basin plan as geographic information or images.

 

Text and river images of the article: Katja Vainionpää

Salmon photo: Matti Saarikoski

Main picture (from the roots of Siiroonjoki): Terttu Hermansson

Life Revives

Suvi Hämäläinen from the Southern Ostrobothnia Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment tells that in the autumn of 2021, the EU-funded LIFE Revives project has started in the area, where habitats for freshwater pearl mussels are being rehabilitated and farmed mussels are returned to the river. This project will revitalize freshwater pearl mussel stocks in three countries (Finland, Sweden and Estonia) and will run until 2027. The University of Jyväskylä coordinates the project, and other Finnish partners are Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland, Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd and the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment of Southern Ostrobothnia, Pirkanmaa and Southwest Finland.