Hardly any other conservation programme has affected people as much as the EU’s Natura 2000 conservation programme. The purpose of the programme is to protect European nature in a holistic way where sustainable conservation is still possible. Parts of Säkylänharju and also Virttaankangas are considered so valuable they fulfil the requirements of the Natura Protection Programme. The Säkylänharju Natura area falls across the territory of four municipalities and has a surface area of 1311 hectares.

The protection of almost the entire Natura area is implemented by the Nature Conservation Act and most of the area is already a Finnish state-owned armed forces exercise area. The Säkylänharju Natura area is included in the conservation programme on the basis of its representative habitat types; 90% of the total area belongs to ridge forested habitat and the rest of the Natura area includes springs, springfens and lakes.

Palokärki koiras pesällä

Black woodpecker (male) in its nest.

The majority of the Natura area is located in the Säkylänharju region and Virttaankangas contains only a relatively narrow northern part. The whole area is part of a wetland landscape linking ridge plateau borderland, large steep cliff ridges and geological depressions which belong to a continuous southeast to northwest ridge valley. The heights reach to 145 metres above sea level.

The borders of the ridge area contain several springs and slightly separated from the main area is the area’s only lake, Kankaanjärvi, which is located in a kettle hole. Säkylänharju’s main form is quite narrow and steep in places – the central parts of the esker are lined with large kettle holes and depressions. The broad slopes on both sides of the ridge are characterised by numerous representative embankments and dunes.

The ridge and its geology were formed during ice age and are internationally valuable classic Finnish natural landscape scenery and areas for outdoor activities.

Mies ja nainen hymyilevät taulun edessä.

The Harjureitti trail section of Porsaanharju – Myllylähde – Toimintaloma is about 9 km and has well-maintained information boards about the ridge’s natural environment.

The boards present the typical animal and plant species found amongst the ridge’s environment as well as the region’s rarer sightings. In Pönttöpuisto and Lintutupa there are exhibitions about the birds that frequent the ridge and the natural springs’ vegetation as well as seldom seen species that might be glimpsed when walking on Myllylähde’s duckboards and trails.

This content describing the nature and geology of the area has been realised as part of Harjureiitti’s nature tourism project. The project was funded by Varsinais-Suomen TE-keskuksen maaseutuosasto and Varsinais-Suomen LAG Jokivarsikumppanit ry.