Finland is truly magic. Imagine a place where you can be all alone in a beautiful forest. Here, you can truly feel the spirit of the land as the morning mist rises from the lakes and the call of the loon echoes between the trees. Here, the old brown bear plays hide and seek with the wolverine and the returning cranes call out for the spring. This is one of Europe’s last wild places. The boreal forest is truly magical.
We were there on assignment for National Geographic and spent two and a half months in search of the mythical taiga. We hiked in the forest and got lost, but entered a different world. A world where everything was at peace, and where the only sound was that of our oars as they sliced the water surface.
The boreal taiga – the forest of the northern hemisphere, located just below the Arctic Circle, has remained virtually unchanged since the last ice age. Spruce, pine, aspen and birch dominate the landscape which is often covered in snow. Moose, brown bears, reindeer and wolves roam through these forests, while owls and ravens patrol the skies above. The forest floor is covered in green moss, growing in thick layers of peat. These layers of organic matter are composed almost entirely of carbon, originally drawn from the air by the respiration of plants. Only a metre or so below the surface, the soil is permanently frozen, stunting plant growth and stabilising the subsurface temperature.