Finnmark – where dreams become reality

Nature and Climate

Nature in Finnmark is manifold and includes mountains, sea, mountain plateaus, forests and rivers. There are as many as five national parks in the county. Along the coast landscapes are often subarctic and with many species of birds. The peninsulas in the east, particularly the Varanger peninsula, harbor vast fields of rock that rightfully enough may be termed deserts of stone. Further towards the west, the scenery takes on a more alpine appearance, with summits, deep valleys and the occasional glacier.

The Gulf Stream keeps the ice off the wide Finnmark fjords during winter. Loose soil and sand has accumulated to form large shallows and beaches along which we may find arctic meadows and important feeding grounds for numerous water birds. The fjords harbour forests of the characteristic mountain birch. Mountain vegetation grows here right down to the shore, often intermixed with typical coastal plants. The coastal vegetation includes eastern species.

Some of Europe’s most notable salmon rivers are to be found in Finnmark. Today’s most important agricultural areas are situated in the Tana, Alta and Pasvik valleys. The Stabbursdalen National park has the world’s northernmost pine forest. The pine forest along the upper part of the Tana and Karasjok rivers and the Anarjohka is an extension of the great Finnish forest mountain plateaus, while that of the Pasvik valley is part of the Russian taiga. This is both the elk’s main winter habitat and bear territory.

The Finnmark highlands consist of dry undulating hills covered with heather and sparse birch forests with numerous lakes and marshes. The wet lands have key nesting areas for numerous waders, ducks, geese and the Whooper swan. Fish species like pike, whitefish and perch abound in the lakes in the southern area, whereas arctic char and trout are found all over the county. The Finnmark highlands are the reindeer’s winter habitat. Finnmark has only domesticated reindeer.