9th graders from Pielisjoki secondary school from Joensuu, Finland are studying this semester local natural reserves in the North-Karelia region together with the schools of Environment Online ENO network.  You can follow the advancement of this project from this blog diary.

Twinning partner schools 2023-2024:

OS Secovlje secondary school, Slovenia stydying Sečoveljske soline natural reserve

Interested to participate with your school? Write

10 Nov 2023: First excursion – Destination Ilomantsi

First, we were supposed to visit the Petkeljärvi National Park in Ilomantsi, North-Karelia. Due to obstacles caused by bridge repair work on a way to Petkeljärvi travel center we had to change the plan. Luckily there are many natural reserve areas in the region so we headed to Havukkakallio ancient hillfort natural reserve near the Ilomantsi village.

The visit was organised in cooperation with Environment Online ENO, North-Karelia Biosphere reserve, Finnish Youth to Rural association (Maaseutuaammattiin ry) and Metsäkeskus – a Finnish forest center (Eco2Adapt -project).

It takes approximately 1 hour from Joensuu to Ilomantsi. We started the journey at 9 AM and returned at 3 PM back to Joensuu. Here is the program of the day:

Havukkakallio ancien Hillfort has been studied by researchers of Snowchange cooperation. Archaeological investigations have demonstrated findings that support the assumptions that the place was used as a fortification to defend the local population from invaders in the Middle Ages (1300s-1500s AD). Havukkakallio’s steep hills and high walls helped to defend the settlement against enemies.

There are two paths in the area to experience the fascinating history and nature of Havukkakallio. We followed this time the red path that included slopes that are steeper and more challenging. We managed well taking into consideration that the winter had already arrived. The blue path takes you on an easy-going circuit of the area. There is a fireplace (‘laavu’) seating area right by the hillfort where you can rest and have a snack.

It was somehow tough to get the image of the ancient fortress especially when we had to explore the area on our own since our guide had felled ill. The remains of the ancient hillfort weren’t easily visible. We saw some supposed banks at the top of the hill. There are no ruins. There were good information signs on the way. The hill itself was worth visiting and we could imagine the time and life in the  Finnish middle ages. Rocks are steep and trees are old. We also saw some changes that climate change is causing in the forest and trees caused by European spruce bark beetles. Nature in the area is diverse and has numerous plants and animal species that the normal economic forest don’t have anymore.

Images from Havukkakallio ancien hillfort natural reserve:

After the visit of Havukkakallio nature trail we visited the Puustila Scenic Farm where we were received by the staff. We ate our lunch there with a hot chocolate drink and ‘pulla’, a Finnish traditional bun bakery. Hosts Meri Viljamaa and Sauvo Henttonen explained to us the story of their scenic farm. They moved to Ilomantsi in the easternmost corner of Finland from the south about 30 years ago. They wanted to live simply and ecologically near nature. In their farm they take care of the traditional undulating landscape; in the fields on the hillsides, in the meadows and the Natura-classified meadows the Kainuu grey sheep and Finnhorses graze. As a partner of the North Karelian Biosphere Area, they are committed to promoting sustainable development.They also offer guests bed-and-breakfast accommodation and guided tours in nature. It is also possible to buy sheep products, such as fleeces and yarn. Visitors can admire the beauty of the traditional landscape year-round. The sheep and lambs graze in the folds from the end of May to late autumn. They also take international youth volunteer workers.

Eco2Adapt project – Collaboration with Metsäkeskus – Finnish Forest Center


In this project we also collaborated with Metsäkeskus – Finnish Forest Center in order to observe the possible changes the climate change is causing in the natural reserves. We were asked to photograph remarkable trees to spark the students’ interest using PlantNet application or Instagram. Not all the remarkable trees had to be caused by climate change. Here are some of our remarkable tree findings: