Monday, July 20, 2009

Border Zones and Wildlife

Last week in Finland we spent some time looking for wildlife in the Karelia region in the border zone between Finland and Russia. Indeed all the Bears and Wolves we saw were in that zone. On the Finnish side there is a 2-3km strip of land that cannot be entered without permission (my Finnish friends kindly arranged this for us). Over the border in Russia this "no-mans-land" is said to be 20km or so in width. Thus there is an strip of land where few people go, indeed almost no one lives there and hence wildlife is mostly undisturbed and thrives and has done so for decades. Now I have travelled extensively throughout Eastern Europe over the last 25 years and have to say that such frontier zones, those that formed (and in some cases still form) the borders between "East" and "West" often contain the very best wildlife habitats.

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