The purpose of nature conservation areas is to safeguard the biodiversity of species and habitats. Nature conservation areas also contribute to the preservation of national landscapes, cultural heritage and recreation and hiking areas. The majority of the area of Utsjoki consists of different nature conservation areas. The Utsjoki region is also a significant national landscape, which has been recognised by the State Council.
There are many types of nature conservation areas. National parks and strict nature reserves constitute the backbone of the Finnish network of nature conservation areas. In Utsjoki, there are no national parks, but the majestic Kevo Strict Natural Reserve is located in the municipality. The conservation rules pertaining to strict natural reserves are tighter than those of nature conservation areas. The strict natural reserves primarily serve nature conservation and scientific research, and efforts are made to keep the natural environment as pristine as possible. The Kevo Strict Natural Reserve spans 13% of the municipality of Utsjoki. The 40-km-long and at some places almost 80-metres-deep canyon-like valley (Kevon kanjoni) of the River Kevojoki forms the core of the area. The canyon has several waterfalls, the most famous of which is the 26-metre high, almost vertical Fiellu waterfall. The other parts of the park are much gentler, plateau of fells divided by gorges. The Kevo area is scientifically valuable, and the Kevo subarctic research station of the University of Turku is located just outside the area. In the strict natural reserve, you are only allowed to move on designated routes.
The Natura 2000 network aims to halt the loss of biodiversity within the EU territory. There are nine diverse Natura areas within the region of Utsjoki. Some of them consist of meadows, like the Kirkkotupien niitty meadow and Välimaa estate field. In addition, for example Pulmankijärvi and Vetsijoki estuary and the wilderness areas of the region are classified as Natura areas.
The majority of the area in the municipality of Utsjoki consist of wilderness. The aim of the wilderness preserves is to maintain their wilderness nature, safeguard the Sámi culture and primary economic activities and to develop the versatile use of nature. Hence, wilderness is not an area entirely isolated of man but living cultural environment in which many different economic activities are engaged in even today. The wilderness preserves in Utsjoki have a large role for primary economic activities such as reindeer herding but also in the recreational use of locals and travellers. The majority of the eastern parts of the municipality of Utsjoki belong to the Kaldoaivi wilderness preserve, which extends to the municipality of Inari as well. The western part of Utsjoki belongs to the Paistunturi wilderness preserve. In addition, the northern part of the Muotkatunturi wilderness preserve extends to the municipality of Utsjoki.
For example, trees, boulders and other natural formations can be protected as natural monuments. Natural formations may be protected due to their beaty, rarity, scenic significance or scientific value. Finnish northernmost natural monument is a spruce growing on the Njallavárri hillside in Utsjoki.
Finland has signed a global Ramvar conservation treaty which protects wetlands. The northernmost Ramsar conservation area is Sammuttijänkä located in the Kaldoaivi wilderness on the side of the municipality of Inari. Sammuttijänkä is also Finland’s biggest uniform unspoilt marshland.
In addition to nature values, several landscape values have been recognised in Utsjoki. Utsjokilaakso has been named as one of Finland’s 27 national landscapes. Additionally, Utsjoki has seven (entire Finland total of 186) nationally valuable landscapes: Ailikastunturi landscapes typical to natural landscapes, Kevo fell plain landscapes, Tenolaakso landscapes, Paistunturi landscapes typical to natural landscapes, Utsjokilaakso landscapes, Alaköngäs rapid landscapes and the newest addition to the group, the Pulmankijärvi fell landscape. Chosen by the Council of State, the nationally valuable landscapes consist of the most representative cultural landscapes, whose value is based on their diverse, culturally-shaped nature, managed agricultural landscape and traditional building stock. The sites in Northern Lapland such as Utsjoki are mainly Sámi cultural landscapes that represent landscape types typical to reindeer husbandry and other natural livelihoods.
Our aim is that Utsjoki preserves its stunning nature, culturally important scenery and primary economic activities in the future as well. We hope that the visitors would experience the nature safely and in a sustainable way, without leaving a trace. For more information on safe and sustainable tourism, click here.