Pieljekaise national park

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One of the country's original nine national parks created by the Swedish government in 1909, Pieljekaise national park in the mountainous northwest displays a semi-alpine flora and fauna over its 153 km² (59 sq mi), with the mountain from which the park gets its name as the focal point. Below the mountain, and scattered with small lakes, is the park's feature mountain birch forest, a safe haven for a few rare animals.

Pieljekaise is Sami for "Ear Peaks", and the two peaks of the mountain are said to resemble an ear. The mountain is unusually prominent at its 1,137 m (3,730 ft) above sea level given its easterly location in the mountain chain and provides a scenic view from the top. Sädvajaure in the north is the park's lowest point at 467 m (1,532 ft) above sea level. Pieljekaise is complemented by the more plateaued Gaissatj and Vuomavare to the northwest, both of which also reach above the tree line. The primary rock is solid slate and gneiss, limiting the flora's variation just about everywhere except on hillsides facing south.

Two thirds of the area is covered with the park's unique forest of mountain birch, the primary motivation for the national park status. Blueberry wire and crowberry wire dominate the undergrowth where the terrain is boulder-sprinkled and moor-like. The meadow forests have a richer flora; here, the mountain birches share the land with herbaceous plants like wood crane's-bill, wolf's-bane (ssp. vulparia), meadowsweet, valerian, forget-me-not, and wood stitchwort. Aspen, gray alder, and rowan make sporadic appearances but are never dominant. A few conifers line Sädvajaure.

The herbaceous globeflower thrives throughout the park even when the soil is barely fertile. Purple saxifrage, yellow saxifrage, fragrant orchid, and herb paris can be found in some of the more hospitable areas of the park.

The woods are mainly home to the birds that one would expect to see at this latitude, such as redpoll, brambling, willow warbler, and northern wheatear with Eurasian golden plover and meadow pipit staying above the tree line. Black scoter, merganser, and arctic loon nest around the lakes. Willow grouse and arctic grouse can also be spotted, as well as the occasional golden eagle and gyrfalcon.

Some of the larger lakes in the south that are only partly inside the park, such as Aleb Tjallasjaure and Vuoleb Tjallasjaure, are rich on fish, particularly arctic char, which unfortunately has to compete with planted brown trout. The woods around Aleb Tjallasjaure show signs of an infestation of autumnal moth larvae from 1955 to 1957.

A few traces of cots and other shelters are the only signs of human influence, and hare, fox, arctic fox, ermine, and wolverine enjoy the peaceful woods away from roads or other human interference. European elk (moose) also roam the woods, but the large predators, like bear, merely pass through the park for the most part.

There are a few signs of ancient presence of the aboriginal Sami population, such as a system of pits used as traps, but no complete inventory has been made. The park lies within the territory of Semisjaur-Njarg Sami community, who use the area for reindeer pasture spring, summer, fall, and sometimes winter as well. Visitors must take care not to disturb the calving, tagging, grazing, driving, and slaughtering of reindeer.

The Kungsleden hiking trail crosses the park. From the north, the hike from Jäkkvik along the trail to the park entrance is 6 km (3½ mi), and from Adolfsström in the south, the park is a 9 km (5½ mi) hike away. The total distance between Jäkkvik and Adolfsström is 27 km (17 mi), and there is a cabin along the trail. The cabin has an open room for use during the day by casual visitors and a locked room with four beds. Keys are available from the grocery stores in Jäkkvik and Adolfsström.

Another trail forks off from Kungsleden before reaching the park, and leads south through the park towards Viejenäs. The hike from Jäkkvik to Viejenäs is 17 km (10½ mi).

At the fork in the trail, 4 km (2½ mi) from Jäkkvik is an open cabin where visitors can stop and rest. There are no beds in this cabin. Jäkkvik is accessible by bus from Skellefteå via Arvidsjaur and Arjeplog.

With relatively few visitors each year, Pieljekaise is one of the country's least known national parks. Perhaps, it is also one of its best-kept secrets.

Following is a translation of the conditions governing Pieljekaise national park, obtained from internat.naturvardsverket.se. It may be out of date, and is for educational purposes only. Do not blame me if you get in trouble, yada, yada. The conditions translated into the text below apply only to Pieljekaise. Other national parks have other conditions specified for them.

Regulations for Pieljekaise National Park

Extracts from Proclamation SNFS 1987:12

Within the national park it is forbidden to:

In the event of special circumstances, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency may declare exceptions to these regulations.

Notwithstanding the prohibitions noted above, it is permitted:

  • for personnel authorized by the national park administration to carry out other measures specified by an approved management plan.
  • for officials carrying out duties related to reindeer management, police work or national park administration to use motorboats and snowmobiles or to land aircraft. The national park administration shall be notified prior to any such use.
  • for officials carrying out duties related to health care or emergency rescue to use appropriate vehicles where necessary. If possible, the national park administration shall be notified prior to any such use; otherwise, notification shall be made as soon as possible following completion of each task.
  • for members of the Semisjaur-Njarg Saami Village to use motorboats and snowmobiles, and to land aircraft in connection with reindeer management, fishing for household needs and commercial fishing.
  • to gather berries and mushrooms.
  • to gather dry twigs and branches for making fires or constructing shelters.
  • to bring leashed dogs anywhere within the national park during the period from 1 January–30 April, and throughout the year on the Kungsleden Trail.

Proclamation SNFS (1987:12) concerning regulations for Pieljekaise National Park

Based on § 4 of the National Park Ordinance (1987:938), the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency proclaims the [above] regulations for Pieljekaise National Park in accordance with the second paragraph of § 5 of the Nature Conservation Act (1964:822).

Effective date

Proclamation SNFS 1987:12. This proclamation shall come into effect on 1 January 1988.

Information synthesized from www.naturvardsverket.se, www.fjallen.nu, and www.arjeploglappland.se. When I began noding the national parks of Sweden, there were no translations of the national park regulations available, and I translated the regulations myself. Since then, the Swedish EPA has begun publishing translations on their Web site, from where the regulations above were blatantly copied and marked up. The regulations are explicitly excluded from protection by the copyright law (1960:729) in 9 § of said law.

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