The wild forest reindeer is one of the species included in Annex II of the European Union Habitats Directive. This means that Finland must provide areas for conservation of wild forest reindeer habitats. The wild forest reindeer has been the basis for selecting more than 30 Natura areas.
The habitats of the wild forest reindeer are a mosaic of bare lichen heaths and marshes. Remote, pristine woodland hollows and the edges of pine swamps are significant calving environments. Females always try to return to the same area to give birth to their calves.
Conservation areas provide natural habitats. In particular, almost all the suitable calving environments in the Salamajärvi National Park are in active use by wild forest reindeer.
The best known conservation areas, where wild forest reindeer are regularly found, are Salamajärvi National Park in the municipalities of Perho, Kivijärvi, and Kinnula, and Friendship Park (Ystävyyden puisto) in Kuhmo, including, for instance, the Elimyssalo nature reserve.
To protect the wild forest reindeer stock in the Repubic of Karelia, the destruction of the animal habitat as a result of forest logging and other business activities by man must be stopped, adequate guarding to decrease poaching must be ensured and legal frameworks on the regional level must be developed to protect rare species, such as the wild forest reindeer.
At the moment, in the Republic of Karelia, the following protected areas operate in the distibution areas of the wild forest reindeer, and their objectives include the preservation of the wild forest reindeer:
Kostamus Nature Reserve: one of the most important objectives of this protected area was the protection of the wild forest reindeer group living in the Kuhmo-Kivijärvi area, which is considered the purest representative of the Rangifer tarandus fennicus.
In addition there are natural parks, which contain habitats typical for the wild forest reindeer: Paanajärvi National Park (Loukhsky District), Kalevala National Park (Kalevalsky District) and Vodlozersky National Park (Pudozhsky District).
It is recommended that additional protected areas be founded alongside the already existing conservation areas in the central summer and winter pasture lands of wild forest reindeer and in the vicinity of cleaving places. The ensure the safe wandering of animals, ”green corridors” should be established alongside those wandering routes where business activities are restricted by a regional admininistration. To realise this task, three animal protection areas have been suggested: the Kalevalsky District (52,500 hectares), the Kovda River area (32,500 hectares) and the Lake Vygozero area (38,500 hectares). Central habitats and wandering routes of the wild forest reindeer are located in these areas.
In addition, the following protected areas are being planned:
- Tiksajärvi Conservation Area (Loukhsky District): the wandering route of the wild forest reindeer to the Kovda River and Jovajoki River.
- Vonka Conservation Area (Kemsky District): central winter pasture lands of the wild forest reindeer.
- Malenga Conservation Area (Belomorsky District): protection of the northeastern border of the spreading area of the wild forest reindeer.
- Muyezersky Conservation Area (Muyezersky District): protection of winter pasture lands.
- Lake Vygozero Conservation Area: one of the largest wild forest reindeer groups wandered in this area in previous times. Today, the area is considered an important protection area of habitats common to the wild forest reindeer and a field for the possible recovery measures for the stock. The Ukujärvi Conservation Area is located on the southern border of the spreading area of the wild forest reindeer.
Wild forest reindeer
Latin name: Rangifer tarandus fennicus, a wild "cousin" of the reindeer
Range and numbers:
In Finland, 700 individuals in Kainuu and 1,250 in Suomenselkä
In Russian Karelia up to 2,400, with an estimated 1,500 in Arkhangelsk and 2,500 in Kom (the question of the taxonomic status of wild reindeer of Arkhangelsk province and Komi Republic is open and requires special research). See range map.
Conservation status in Finland: Near Threatened (NT)