Paz River valley and Lake Inari is a common natural geographical cultural and historic region.
A common natural system is presented by European, Asian and Arctic species of wild plants and animals; some of them are at the border of their habitats. Vast areas stretching from Lake Inari to the lower reaches of the Paz River are abundant in pine forests, bogs, lakes and streams.
Pasvik is notable for its history; it is a venue for meetings of different cultures. Traces of Stone Age people were found in some places. Sami, Russians, Finns and Norwegians used to live on the Paz River shores in different periods. The Paz River was the main transport channel for areas off the Barents Sea; people, goods and timber were transported by it.
A huge lake which has an area of 1050 km2 is in the northern part of Finnish Lapland. A lot of rivers and streams flow into it. The lake is about 60 meters deep; its shores are very indented and beautiful. There are about three thousand islands there. The lake is abundant in whitefish, grayling, bull trout, trout, perch and pike.
People started settling on its shores some centuries ago. Sami, indigenous people used to fish in Lake Inari and the Paz River; they were engaged in gathering and elk hunting.
The lake is frozen over in the period from November till March and one can ride dogs and snowmobiles there. Ice fishing can be of interest too.
The river has its source in the biggest lake of Finnish Lapland, Inari. The Upper Paz is in Russia; its middle part is along the Russian- Norwegian border. The Lower Paz is in Norway.
In the postglacial period there was a bay in the valley which stretched nearly up to Lake Inari.
The river is 147 km long; altitude drop from the source to the mouth is 119 meters. Its big slope, presence of rapids and waterfalls resulted in construction of seven HEP stations. Five of them are Russian: Kaitakoski, Janiskoski, Rajakoski, Hevoskoski and Borisoglebskaya. And two are Norwegian: Skogfoss and Melkefoss.
Specially Protected Nature Territories of Three Countries
Some protected nature territories were established in the region: Vatsari Wildleness Area, Finland (1991), Pasvik Reserve, Russia (1992). Three specially protected nature territories were established in Norway: Øvre Pasvik National Park (1979, the area's expansion took place in 2003), Pasvik Nature Reserve (1993) and Øvre Pasvik Landscape Protection (2003).
Those protected nature territories are in the vicinity of Muotkavaara Mountain (Treriksøya in Norwegian), the place where the national borders of Finland, Norway and Russia meet.
Vatsari Wilderness Area
Location: Inari municipality, Lapland province, Finland.
Its area is 1550 km2. Vatsari includes northern and eastern parts of Lake Inari, islands and an adjacent hilly plain. Boreal taiga forests are on the ridges and hills; bogs and lakes are in the lowlands. A forest-tundra landscape is in the north-east of Vatsari; birches grow there. There is no vegetation in some places and but there is baring.
Vatsari stretches to Norway and borders on Øvre Pasvik National Park. There are no organized trails there but a visitor can stay for a night in the hut.
Vatsari is important for reindeer herding; big areas are used for grazing.
Norwegian Specially Protected Nature Territories
Location: Sør-Varanger municipality, Finnmark County, Norway
The area of Øvre Pasvik National Park is 119 km2; it is in the crossborder area. Ellenvatn Lake surrounded by numerous small lakes, a hilly plain and pine forests are in its central part.
Pasvik Nature Reserve (its area is 19,1 km2 ) borders on Pasvik Reserve (Russia) in the south. Different bogs and lakes occupy a major part of the territory. They are attractive for plenty of waterfowls and sandpipers. Pasvik wetland sites are of international importance as nesting and rest places for birds.
Øvre Pasvik Landscape Protection consists of the National Park and the reserve.
Location: Pechenga district, Murmansk region, Russia
The reserve in Russia stretches along the national border; it has an area of 147,27 km2. It is located in the central, least effected part of the Paz River in the right hand part of the valley.
Those tundra pine forests are the northernmost in Europe; they stretch up to the Barents Sea.
Kalkupya Mountain is in the central part of the reserve. Altitudinal belt change from pine forests to stony and lichen mountain tundra is typical for it. Different swamps stretch in the vast areas.
The reserve borders on Pasvik Reserve, Norway in the south. Fjernvann Lake (Heuhenjarvi), an extension of the Paz River is full of waterfowl.
Pasvik Reserve, Norwegian and Finnish environmental agencies took part in establishing of Pasvik-Inari Trilateral Park in the period from 2005 till 2008. Today it is a part of it. The project was aimed at laying a foundation for sustainable nature tourism promotion in the common nature region, conducting joint research and monitoring as well as disseminating information on the park and region in the three countries.
In 2008 experts of Europarc Federation visited the region in order to confirm that the crossborder area met European standards.
Their mission resulted in recognition that Pasvik-Inari region met international standards. Representatives of Finnish, Russian and Norwegian environmental agencies were invited to the conference in Brashov (Romania) which took place in the period from September 24, 2008 till September 27, 2008; the Europarc Certificate was awarded there. 259 representatives from 34 countries attended the conference. Olga Makarova, Anatoliy Khokhlov and Vladimir Chizhov attended the conference. The Certificate would strengthen international cooperation in nature conservation, raise prestige of the common specially protected territory and attract more people who are not indifferent to nature tourism. All that shows the importance of Pasvik-Inari region, helps us to preserve it and to pass it on to future generations.
A regular Advisory Board meeting of Pasvik-Inari Trilateral Park took place in the period from September 1, 2010 till September 3, 2010. New regulations regarding operation of the governing body were adopted. Main activities were planned for 2011. A long term research of the brown bear population in the region, Red Data Book of the trilateral Park and a transborder tour in the park are among them.
Employees of Pasvik Reserve, their Finnish and Norwegian partners took part in the Fourth conference on the Green Belt of Europe and symposium devoted to the 20th anniversary of the Russian-Finnish Park of Friendship in the period from October 4, 2010 till October 8, 2010. Director of Pasvik Reserve made a presentation devoted to cooperation within the framework of of Pasvik-Inari Trilateral Park at the conference.
- Donskoy, a deputy minister of RF ministry of nature resources and environment visited Pasvik Reserve and Pasvik-Inari Trilateral Park in order to see prospects for nature tourism promotion in Paz-Inari region. Mr. Donskoy chaired a round table meeting which was attended by representatives of regional and local authorities, border guards in Nikel. The meeting took place in the Visit-Centre of Pasvik Reserve in the settlement of Rajakoski. Representatives of Kolsk GMK, TGK 1 and Rombol Ltd. discussed the problems and prospects of tourism promotion in the specially protected territories. Despite of having different opinions on some aspects of the discussed problem, the participants were unanimous about its prospects as well as a desire of the attendees to implement it. See Rreserve’s News.
A traditional Ski Track of Barents region takes place in March. A joint group of Pasvik-Inari Trilateral Park takes part in it for the second time.