The protected area


THE WORLD`S NORTHERNMOST PINEWOOD

The River Stabburselva flows through beautiful cuontryside that is wilderness-like and has many of the landscape features and habitats that typify Finnmark. The characteristic row of mountains, the Gáissá, towers over the otherwise gentle Finnmark landscape. In the Stabbursdalen National Park, one of the world`s northernmost pinewoods lines å pristine river with magnificent geological formations. The Stabbursdalen valley is also the northernmost haunt of several species of animals and birds.


ENJOY THE SCENERY

Outdoor recreation
The national park offers splendid areas for hiking and skiing. A few paths are marked, and there are open cabins and truf huts that you can use. There are fantastic opportunities for fishing in the river Stabburselva, its tributaries and nearby lakes. The park also offers good small-game hunting. Remember to buy hunting and fishing licences.

Salmon fishing
Stabburselva is a good river. The salmon used to be a valuable food resource here, and were fished with net and traditional fish weirs. Angling has now taken over, and many people try to hook a salmon in the rapids and pools on the river. After salmon ladders were built on the two lowermost waterfalls, salmon can run all the way up to Njákhágorzi, a lake 28 kilometers from the river mouth. The river also has good stocks of sea char and sea trout, in addition to inland fish like trout, char, pike and burbot.

At times, there are many people at the fishing spots and great care must be taken to limit the wear and tear on the vegetation. Marked paths lead to two fishing spots. If you want to make a fire, use the existing hearths along the river banks.


LANDSCAPE AND GEOLOGY

Many of the landscape elements that typify Finnmark, barren mountains, open plateaus, narrow gorges, upland birch woodland and pine heaths, are found in the Stabbursdalen National Park. There are also lush slopes clad in birch trees.

Shaped by ice and glacial rivers
Stabbursdalen has numerous features left behind when the vast ice sheet melted at the end of the last Ice Age, some 10 000 years ago. Huge glacial rivers poured from the south and west, initially beneath the ice and later from the ice front in the south. The meltwater excavated two deep gorges, Rávttošavži in the main valley and Lávkaávži in the Diljohk valley. The river transported huge quantities of gravel and deposited it in a delta close to Porsangerfjord. Here, you can also see other features left by the melting ice, including enormous terraces, former river beds, eskers and kettle holes. Since the Ice Age, the river Stabburselva has excavated a course through the magnificent terraces.

The barren Gáissá
In the south-east, the characteristic row of Gáissá mountains stretches eastward from Stabbursdalen to the Tana valley. The landscape in the north and west is more rounded: a semi-plateau. The Gáissá are remnants of enormous nappes thrust southwards across a land area some 425-600 million years ago. Their highest summits rise over 1100 meters; among the highest in Finnmark. In the south-east, the row is broken by two broad, U-shaped valleys, Girrábohki and Opperdatvággi, which bear the stamp of the Arctic. Some of the mountainous area to the south is grey, naked, rocky desert composed of block fields and gravelly plains supporting few plants.

Unspoilt, varied river
Few large rivers in Norway have such a pristine character as Stabburselva. Apart from the lowermost stretch, the 60 km long river is almost unaffected by man-made constructions.

The upper part of the valley is open, and the river flows in steps, producing alternating waterfalls and deep pools. Further down, the valley narrows and the river passes through 10-20 meter high gorges. Downstream from the large Rávttošavži gore, it widens again to form an open, pine-clad, terraced landscape. On the plain furthest down the valley, the river meanders slowly and has formed many ox-bow lakes. This wetland, Lompola (Luobbal), has some of the richest biodiversity in the park.


PLANT AND ANIMAL LIFE

Pinewoods in a barren landscape
In the warm period about 5000-7000 years ago, Finnmark was covered in pine forest all the way from the interior, down along the valleys and fjords to the coast. When the climate cooled, the forest shrank, but it survives as isolated woodlands in sheltered valleys like Stabbursdalen. This is one of the world`s northernmost pinewoods and some trees are 500 years old. It is also the northernmost outpost for several species of animals and birds; a vulnerable natural pearl in a barren landscape.

The pinewood is open and consists of low, almost shrub-like trees. They grow slowly here in the north, and tend to be damaged by frost and wind. Dry, poor soils supply few nutrients for plants and result in poor ground vegetation composed of lichens and heat plants.

The bedrock consists mainly of sandstones and shales that are poor in mineral nutrients, but dolomitic limestone is found locally, and this supports richer vegetation. You can even find grey alder woodland, dense aspen groves, lush tall-herb woodlands and demanding orchids in the park.

Wetland oasis
In contrast to its barren surroundings, Lompola is a lush, wetland oasis lowermost in the valley. Belts of sedges and willows grow along the river, wreathed by pinewood. The area has rich birdlife and is an important breeding area, particularly for ducks and whooper swans. Hollow trees in the ancient pinewood provide nesting sites for hole-nesters like goldeneyes and goosanders.

Animals and birds
Many species have their northern range limit in the pinewoods of Stabbursdalen, among them the red squirrel, capercaillie, Siberian jay and pine grosbeak. Several birds of prey also nest in Stabbursdalen. The lowest part of the valley offers valuable winter grazing for moose. Wolverines and lynx also live in the park.


HISTORY AND CULTURAL HERITAGE
The natural resources in Stabbursdalen have formed an important part of the subsistence base for the Coastal Sámi inhabitants, who have hunted, fished and gathered fodder her for generations. The sedge belts in Lompola used to be cut for winter fodder, and old tree stumps in the pinewood result from felling for timber to build boats and houses. The landscape was important in the pre-Christian Sámi religion. Some mountains and lakes were regarded as sacred and sacrificial stones (sieidi stones) were important religious symbols. Pitfalls are remnants of the trapping of wild reindeer before the reindeer were semi-domesticated in the 17th century. Reindeer husbandry still takes place in the park, and reindeer graze here throughout the summer. Fences, which are crucial to prevent the herds getting mixed, and other facilities, can be seen in the park.