Life on the marsh

Áhpi is a Sámi word meaning both sea and marsh. If it is a marsh then it is so big it feels like a sea. Much of Sjávnja comprises áhpi, vast wetlands broken up by dry ridges. Bog spruce forest grows dense along the winding streams and the tarns.

The lack of roads and its general inaccessibility make Sjávnja a sanctuary for birds and animals. In the light nights in early summer, the bird life here is unparalleled. More than 100 bird species nest in these wetlands. The songs, the calls, and the twittering carry on around the clock.

  • Crane.
  • Wood Sandpiper. Foto: Jan-Erik Nilsson
  • Whooper swan.
  • Common snipe
  • Ruff. Photo: Peter Rosén

To reindeer herders, Sjávnja’s extensive marshlands mean natural migratory routes between the summer land in the west and the winter land in the east. Marsh plants that the reindeer can dig down to are important forage when the animals need rest and food. When the snow has disappeared and the ice is melting, it is difficult to cross the marshes.

To forest reindeer, the marsh means coolness. In early summer the forest reindeer begin to forage for the first foliage on the marshes.