“Far to the North under the Great Bear, Sápmi shines. Ridge upon ridge, lake stretching into lake. Rocky cliffs, craggy peaks point to the sky. Streams laugh, woods whisper. Steely precipices drop, descend into the stormy sea.”
Between the 22nd July and 6th August 2013 I was based at the Kevo Subarctic Research Station, Utsjoki, at the northernmost tip of Finland, about one hundred kilometres from the coast of the Arctic Ocean. It lies about 60 kilometres north of the continuous pine forest line and belongs to the sub-arctic Mountain Birch Forest Zone at the forest-tundra ecotone.
I was here to assist James Borrell with the collection of samples of Dwarf Birch Betula nana for genetic analysis. A comparison is to be made between the genetic health of endangered populations in Scotland with the continuous populations in Finland.
We collected 32 herbarium samples from 10 populations and recorded data on habitats and plant characteristics. Our sampling took us to boggy marshes harbouring clouds of mosquitoes, hilltop plateaus cloaked in mist, the banks of the Tana River on the Finland-Norway border and to the edges of deep gorges in the Kevo Strict Nature Reserve. We even sampled near North Cape in Norway, the most northern point in Europe.
Check out my ‘TweetedTrips’ map with photos and tweets from the field!