In the old-growth forest

The old-growth pine remembers

I don’t remember exactly what year I started, but it was at least 750 years ago. We were many seedlings in those days, and I still have some relatives almost my age here in the mountain. But outside the park, they are all dead. Some got sick and died, some fell in storms, but most have been felled and turned into boards, planks or perhaps – awful thought – toilet paper. I have made it, I’m still healthy through and through, and as far as I know I’m the oldest one here.

Sometimes there are fires here in the old-growth forest. The first fire I remember was a small one in 1328. But in 1413 there was a bigger one. Some of my bark burned away and I got a fire scar at the bottom of my trunk. I remedy that with a covering of wood and resin, which also gives good protection against mould fungus. Since then it has burned five more times. I get a new fire scar and more resin in the wood every time, which keeps me healthy.

I don’t grow that fast, nor that thick, I’m not even 50 cm in diameter. It is dry and meagre soil here, which helps if you want to grow old. Some of the relatives are on fertile ground, and they grow and thicken much quicker. They are more easily attacked by fungus, and die and become a home for birds and insects.

Text: Ola Engelmark

Essential forests

In the old-growth forest there are life forms and plants that cannot be found in other places. Contiguous old-growth forests are necessary for many animal and plant species. In Laponia, we find Sweden’s biggest contiguous old-growth forest areas. As forestry spreads, the ancient forests become fewer and fewer. New research shows that old-growth forests contribute to counteracting climate change.

On moist and nutrient-rich ground, for example near streams and in ravines, the spruce thrives. In Muttos for example, there is a large marsh named Guosaáhpe, spruce marsh. On dry, nutrient-poor ground the pine thrives best, although you can also find pine trees right on the edge of the marsh. Interspersed in the deciduous forest we also find the Arctic downy birch, rowan and different willow species.

The deciduous forest often contains a carpet of reindeer lichen. This lichen is important as winter forage for the reindeer. Hanging lichen is used as emergency fodder for reindeer when in some years the snow cover is transformed into ice crust which the reindeer cannot penetrate to find forage. Reindeer herders often describe Muttos as a safe haven, a place where they know the reindeer can always find forage.