Station information Contact information

Värriö Subarctic Research Station
Dpt of Forest Sciences
Ainijarventie 114
FI-98890 Ruuvaoja
FINLAND
Tel. +358 40 827 6535
firstname.lastname@helsinki.fi

History

The birth of Varrio Research Station dates back to year 1966. On a dark and somber November evening, three men sought respite from the cold in the Puitsi Fell wilderness cabin located on the border to Russia in the municipality of Salla. One of them was Erkki Pulliainen, a biologist and a researcher at the University of Helsinki at the time (and who later went on to become a lecturer in game biology, a professor of zoology at the University of Oulu and a long time member of parliament). Two others were Frontier Guards from the military, working as assistants to Pulliainen at the time. As they evening carried on, one of the Frontier Guards, 2nd Lieutenant Martti Laitinen, spoke the words that are said to be at the origin of the idea for the station:"Wouldn't it be a wonderful idea for the university and border patrol to build together a research station here up in the far Nort-East," he said. Pulliainen agreed.

The higher echelons in the Frontier Guard and the military also supported the idea. And so did representatives from Metsähallitus, the government organization in charge of forests in Finland. So in the following months, Erkki Pulliainen made the necessary proposals needed for setting up the research station and officially proposed the idea to the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry at the University of Helsinki. The costs of setting up the station would be minimal for the University. Metsähallitus would give the required logs and woodmaterial found and the Frontier Guards would build it free of cost. The proposal was accepted by the university in 1967.

The plan was put in effect the same year. General Koppinen from the Frontier Guard had suggested the station be built in the proximity of a small lake, lake Kuutsjarvi, by the Varrio Fell. As the construction could only be done during the short summer months, the Frontier Guards transported all the required construction material with a snow tractor during winter from the closest winter-accessible road at the time, 44 kilometers away. Then as the snow melted, the construction began under the supervision of the head of the Frontier Guards in the region, Aaro Valtonen. The main building and the sauna were finished by beginning of August the same summer. Finally on the 13th of August, Erkki Pulliainen together with his research assistants, Frontier Guards and VIPs held the initiation ceremony that now landmarks the birth of the station.

And as remains the case today - all the invited guests had to walk 8 kilometers through the wilderness to reach the station!

*****

Translated and modified from:

Pulliainen, E. 1971. Helsingin yliopiston Värriön tutkimusasema. Luonnon Tutkija 5:160-164.

update: Veli Pohjonen 13.7.2005; translation: Matti Pohjonen 12.08.2005