Salpausselkä Geopark, situated in the Lahti region in southern Finland, tells the story of the best-known geological entity of Finland. The First and Second Salpausselkä are unique ice-marginal formations laid down by the last Ice Age. They reach across the entirety of southern Finland and are at their most spectacular in the area of Salpausselkä Geopark. Here they are joined to feeder eskers of international value, such as the picturesque Kelvenne Island and Pulkkilanharju Esker in Päijänne National Park.
The Salpausselkä ridges and eskers were mainly formed of sand and gravel transported, sorted and deposited by glacial meltwaters at the end of the last Ice Age. The continental ice sheet and its meltwaters have shaped also our rocky geosites into the form they are today. Our rocks are ancient – they were formed between 1,600 and 1,900 million years ago, and in the course of time have been moulded by a host of ice ages.
The Salpausselkä ridges got their name from the Finnish, meaning to block, since they block in the waters of the Finnish Lakeland. To the north of Salpausselkä, hundreds of lakes ranging from small kettle ponds to Finland’s second largest lake, Päijänne, offer stunningly beautiful views and excellent opportunities for recreation for local residents and visitors alike.
The Salpausselkä ridges and eskers hold massive reserves of high-quality groundwater filtered by thick layers of gravel and sand. The groundwater is mostly hidden underground, but becomes visible in the area’s natural springs and groundwater-fed lakes and brooks. Around a quarter of Finns get their drinking water from this region: the locals in the form of groundwater, and residents in the Helsinki area via the world’s second longest tunnel from southern Lake Päijänne.
The Salpausselkä ice-marginal formations, left behind by the last Ice Age some 12 000 years ago, are the best-known geological features of Finland. In the Lahti Region they are at their most spectacular, forming a unique, diverse landscape of ridges, kettle holes, steep slopes and raised beaches. The narrow eskers to the north of Salpausselkä offer lovely walks and views.
The landscape of Salpausselkä Geopark is dominated by numerous water bodies. The groundwater reserves hidden inside the ridges’ sand and gravel layers provide local residents with drinking water of the highest quality. The groundwater becomes visible in the area’s natural springs and groundwater-fed lakes and brooks. Extensive research-based water protection measures are in use.
The First and Second Salpausselkä ridges, the long chains of eskers, magnificent rock formations and hundreds of lakes dotted with islands create a landscape with breathtaking scenery and of unique geological interest. Salpausselkä Geopark is full of interesting sites to visit – welcome!
Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas that have sites and landscapes of international geological significance. A geopark raises awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage and promotes local sites, products and services. Some of the key objectives of geoparks include preserving a region’s natural and cultural heritage, strengthening local identity and promoting sustainable tourism.
UNESCO Global Geopark is a designation awarded to areas that meet the criteria set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The areas form a global network, which expands each year. At present (August 2020), there are 161 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 44 countries and two in Finland. Salpausselkä Geopark aspires to meet the criteria and apply for the UNESCO Global Geopark designation.
Salpausselkä Geopark, aspiring to become a UNESCO Global Geopark, encompasses six municipalities: Asikkala, Heinola, Hollola, Lahti, Padasjoki and Sysmä. The work of Salpausselkä Geopark is coordinated and managed by the geopark staff within the regional tourism company Lahden Seutu - Lahti Region Ltd. The geopark staff work in close co-operation with the local authorities and other local actors committed to developing the geopark.
The Salpausselkä Geopark Project was carried out between 2017 and 2020 by Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) and Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland, in co-operation with municipalities and and a wide range of other regional actors. The project was funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), as well as the participating municipalities: Asikkala, Heinola, Hollola, Kärkölä, Lahti, Padasjoki and Sysmä.