Environmental education

Vanhankaupunginlahden alueella on helppo tutustuttaa lapsi luontoon jo varhaisessa vaiheessa. Kuva: Taina Tervo

The Vanhankaupunginlahti is an easy place for children to discover the treasures of nature. Photo: Taina Tervo

What does Vanhankaupunginlahti offer in regard to environmental education?

Vanhankaupunginlahti offers a great, diverse and fascinating environment for the environmental education of people of all ages. As a result of being located in the middle of Helsinki, Vanhankaupunginlahti also boasts good transport connections.

Standing on the duckboards in the middle of the reed beds, listening to the chattering of sedge warblers, the whistling of common rosefinches and the pings of bearded reedlings, it’s sometimes difficult to believe that you are actually standing in the capital of Finland. The area’s many bird hides are ideal for observing the frolicking of Eurasian coots, admiring the precise hunting of western marsh harriers and listening to the calls of water rails. In addition to these, the reed beds are also home to Eurasian otters, muskrats, European water voles and foxes. The area’s ponds also hide various types of frogs and viviparous lizards.

In addition to the reed beds, the area also features two exciting islands, which are accessible via duckboards. The larger of these, Lammassaari, features a bird watching tower, while the smaller island of Kuusiluoto is home to a number of rare plant species, such as Ajuga pyramidalis, which blooms in May. In the summer, Kuusiluoto is also used as a sheep pasture by Vanhankaupunginlahden kulttuuriekologinen klubi.

Vanhankaupunginlahti has been designated a nationally valuable bird wetland, and with good reason. The area features several good bird watching towers, from where you can learn to identify different bird species and observe their lives through binoculars or telescope all year round. Some of the rare water bird species found in the area include the garganey, the gadwall and the teal. During the spring and autumn migration periods, you can also see all of Finland’s daytime birds of prey in Vanhankaupunginlahti.

Vanhankaupunginlahden metsissä lapsi voi nähdä ja kokea aitoa luontoa. Kuva: Taina Tervo

The forests of Vanhankaupunginlahti are great places for children to see and experience real nature. Photo: Taina Tervo

In Hakalanniemi, you can also find the Arboretum, where you can examine various tree species found in the northern hemisphere. The forests of Vanhankaupunginlahti are great places for forest activities, such as finding badger sets or fox droppings. Vanhankaupunginlahti is also home to many old trees and a wide variety of fungi and polypores. In the early summer, the herb-rich common alder forests and deciduous swamp woods are filled with the songs of nightingales and Eurasian blackcaps. In the spring, you might also spot a large spawning pike in one of the ditches.

Vanhankaupunginlahti also includes large open fields that offer some great views, which is why these areas are favoured by bird watchers in the spring.  Notable bird species found in these areas include northern lapwings, which arrive as early as March, as well as ruffs and Eurasian skylarks, which arrive in April and May, respectively. In the winter, the tracks of brown hares and the foxes tracking them are common sights in the snow.

The roads, paths, bird watching towers and break spots of Vanhankaupunginlahti are ripe for adventure all year round. The Pornaistenniemi nature trail is currently being redesigned as a ‘Heart of Nature’ path with tasks that promote well-being.

If you’re hiking with children, we also recommend taking a look at the Viikarien Viikki nature trail for children (in Finnish).