Murmansk Oblast

Northernmost forest on the border of three countries

The youngest Arctic nature reserve on the border between Russia, Norway and Finland

14.06.2022// The Murmansk Region has the northernmost point in the Arctic where trees grow. This is the Pasvik Nature Reserve, where the northern taiga forest ends and the tundra begins. This is a unique ecosystem with northern pine trees, endless swamps and 241 species of birds, some of which are included in the Red Book. The Pasvik Nature Reserve is unique in its wealth of flora and fauna, not typical of such northern latitudes. It is also located on the border of three countries — Norway, Finland and Russia.

The Pasvik Reserve is located 15 km southwest of the settlement of Nikel. The distance from Murmansk to the settlement is about 200 km. Before visiting the reserve, you will need to obtain a pass and get approval for your excursion from the reserve administration. Russian citizens must apply for passes 30 days in advance; foreign citizens, 60 days in advance.

The Pasvik State Reserve is the youngest and smallest reserve in the Murmansk Region. It was established on 16 July 1992. The reserve spans over 14,700 ha. The Pasvik Reserve owes its name to the Paz River, which drains out of Lake Inari in Finland, proceeds through Russian territory and flows into the Barents Sea in Norway.

The Pasvik Reserve is the only one in Russia that is fully located in the border zone, and its western limits coincide with the state border. The location of the reserve in the border zone and in the Pasvik-Inari natural region shared by Russia, Norway and Finland contributed to the emergence of early cooperation between the three countries as early as the 1990s.

In 2008, the Pasvik-Inari Tripartite Cross-border Park was established, of which the Pasvik Reserve is a Russian part. The park has a certificate of the Federation of Europark.

The relief of the valley was formed by a receding glacier. It left behind deep ditches and holes which over time have become basins of countless lakes. Many red-listed waterfowl breed here. The Paz River valley is home to Europe's northernmost indigenous pine forests.

People have inhabited the northern taiga since the Stone Age, and many traces of our ancestors have been found on the banks of the Paz. At the dawn of new history, the valley was inhabited by the Sami who engaged in reindeer herding and fishing. The reserve has developed two routes for tourists. The first one, named 'Rajakoski: living at three borders,' will help you understand the very special local culture, an amalgamation of traditions of three countries.

The island has an ornithological tower and a memorial museum, the home of Norwegian researcher Hans Skonning. He wrote a book about the time he spent in Varlam which brought the author worldwide fame.

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