The Green Belt of Fennoscandia
Fennoscandia is the vast physical-geographical area in Northern Europe uniting Scandinavia, Kola peninsula, Finland and Karelia.
Firstly proposed for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List as far back as in mid 1990-s, the property is noted for its pronounced cluster structure. From the Russian side it consists of a line of existing and proposed Specially Protected Natural Areas (SPNAs) of different conservational status - from national park to biosphere reserve. These separate clusters of the total area of about 700 000 ha are concentrated within the comparatively narrow line (mainly 50 km wide) stretched for over 1000 km along the Russian-Norwegian and Russian-Finnish frontiers - approximately between latitudes of Murmansk and St.Petersburg.
From the Russian side the main chains of the "green belt" are: Pasvik, Laplandsky and Kostomukshsky Reserves; Paanajarvi and Kalevalsky National Parks. A number of protected areas forming the transboundary Green Belt of Fennoscandia Site are located within the territories of adjoining states - Norway and Finland.
The main value of the property reflected in such a figurative name is the exceptional diversity of zonal ecosystems presented here (mostly forests) distinctively alternating each other in the classical order from the north to the south. The Belt stretches from Arctic tundra of the Barents' Sea coast through forest tundra of the Kola peninsula and the Karelian taiga (northern, middle and southern taiga) to the sub-taiga conifer-broadleaf forests of the islands in the Gulf of Finland. Pine is the predominant wood specie, spruce and birch are widely spread. These unique European massifs owe their high integrity level to the near-frontier location and special regime of use.
The history and modern relief of the area are extremely interesting. Almost all protected areas composing the "green belt" lay on common geological basis - the Baltic crystalline shield with Precambrian outcroppings (one of the Earth's oldest, of 3 billion years and more) in all parts of it. In tectonic faults of the shield formed deep oblong lakes (one of the largest of which is Paanajarvi, its length is 24 km with the width of 1-1.5 km and the depth up to 128 m).
The glacier which has retreated from this area 10 000 years ago, formed the typical hillocky-moraine relief with different distinctive elements like kames, oses, drumlins, sheep-back rocks, etc. Of glacier origin are countless lakes and marshes which are of the same importance for this area as the virgin forests. All the area is the typical lakeland astonishing by the diversity of thousands of reservoirs.
Mosaic structure of landscape showing in combination of primeval forest massifs, numerous lakes and marshes, rapid rivers and peculiar relief forms make this northern land extraordinary picturesque.