Postcard Sunday: Finland

Koli Park

Koli National Park (Finnish: Kolin kansallispuisto) is a national park in the municipalities of Joensuu, Lieksa and Kontiolahti in the North Karelia region of Finland. It covers 30 square kilometers (12 sq mi) of forested hills on the western shore of Lake Pielinen, and was established in 1991. Contrary to the other national parks in Finland, Koli National Park was originally governed by the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla. It is now governed by the Metsähallitus like the other national parks.
Koli has lots to offer cultural heritage-wise. Formerly, it was a sacrificial site, but was later used for slash-and-burn agriculture. The purpose of Koli National Park isn’t to preserve wild nature, but the traditional agricultural heritage is cherished in Koli. Some fields are slashed, burnt and re-cultivated; hay is cut yearly. Traditional Finnish breeds of cow and sheep graze in the meadows of Koli.

The Koli National Park is divided into three different zones according to central protection objectives.
Attention is paid to the national landscape and geology in a zone which covers the highest tops of Koli. The cultural zone is located quite near a village. In the culture zone, the multiform of the traditional landscapes is maintained by burn-beating, by grazing, and by managing open fields by among other methods, mowing. The yard circles with their old buildings on the open field and on the pasturage graze the pearls of the burn-beaten area culture in the middle of the open man-made landscape lined by the koivikko, the kyyttö and sheep. The multiform flora of open fields, in particular, need annual maintenance mowing in order to be preserved. To the nature zone the forest nature of dangers is protected. The nature of Koli’s terrain is well-varied, and thanks to it, there are a large number of different biotopes even in a small area, and thus a great variety of multiform species. The rocky terrain is fairly rugged, but with dense growths of old spruces and birches on valley slopes.

The most well-known vantage point in the park is Ukko-Koli, with a grand view to the East over lake Pielinen. Near the top there is the Heritage Center Ukko and Hotel Koli. Two long scenery lifts operate during the summer.
There are also many caves in Koli area, e.g. the cave named Pirunkirkko. It is 34 meters (112 ft) long and 1–7 meters (3.3–23.0 ft) high.
Koli has inspired many painters and composers, e.g. Jean Sibelius, Juhani Aho and Eero Järnefelt. Eero Järnefelt painted a large scene together with A.W. Finch and Ilmari Aalto in 1911, which can be seen in the Helsinki railway station restaurant. Painters discovered Koli in the 19th century and has been called one of the national scenaries of Finland.
Nowadays there are two ski resorts in Koli area: Loma-Koli for families and Ukko-Koli for more advanced downhill skiing. There are three ski lifts and six ski slopes in Ukko-Koli. The highest vertical drop is 230 meters (750 ft) and ski slopes are 800–1,500 meters (2,600–4,900 ft) long. There are four ski lifts and six ski slopes in Loma-Koli. The highest vertical drop is 145 meters (476 ft) and ski slopes are 530–1,050 meters (1,740–3,440 ft) long. Two of the slopes are for snowboarding. There are also snow castles for children.

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