Sjaunja nature reserve
 

Sjaunja
is placed in northern Sweden, in the province of Lapland. You find it easily on a map, west of the railroad between the cities of Gällivare and Kiruna, south of the river "Kaitum älv" and north of the river "Lule älv" (also called "Stora Lulevatten"). The nearest town is Gällivare and Sjaunja is a part of Gällivare municipality. Sjaunja is since 1986 a nature reserve. Before 1986 Sjaunja was just an ”area for protecting of the birds”, meaning no protecting in particularly. Sjaunja nature reserve is placed on the list of Ramsar ”Convention of Wetlands” and since december 1996 even placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and then included in ”Laponia World Heritage”. The Laponia World Heritage, which also include the national parks of Sarek, Padjelanta, Stora Sjöfallet, Muddus and the nature reserve of Stubba, is about 9400 sq.km, that is a third of Belgium. Only Sjaunja itself is about 2850 sq.km. That means that Sjaunja is larger than Luxembourg. Sjaunja is for many people in Sweden and in Europe the less known area of all mentioned above. But nevertheless Sjaunja is well known by the ornithologist's. Sjaunja is also a IBA area.

Sjaunja
does not have very high mountains (fjeld). The highest is Kårsatjåkka with it´s peak of 1.730 m above sea level. Sjaunja does not have anything that attract the common tourist of the Swedish mountains. The narrow road (no. 827) from Gällivare and Porjus to the hydroelectric power station of Vietas is used by the tourists who want to go to the nationalparks of Sarek, Padjelanta and Stora Sjöfallet. Many of this tourists do not know that they just are passing alongside the southern boundary of Sjaunja. This tourists will not pay much attention to lower mountains, swamps, woods of mountain birch, woods of spruce and pine. But when You go by bus or car to the west, along this road (no. 827), on Your right hand, to the north, there it is, Sjaunja. The woods, swamps, mountains and the thickets of Sjaunja hide many secrets of the Scandinavian nature. You can walk here for days and nights without see any other people than Your own friends walking with You.

My first visit
to Sjaunja nature reserve took place in June 1973. Since then I have visit Sjaunja during all seasons and all month of the year. I have even spent the Christmas Eve and New Years Eve here, living in tent. The winter is cold and You will find lots of snow here. The only way to move around is by ski, or by snow-mobile. We all know that the snow-mobile can be used in a less favourable manner for the wildlife. So in the most places of Sjaunja it is prohibited to use the snow-mobile. You have to come with Your skies. That is good, because You then can enjoy the silence of Sjaunja. A silence You only meet in big maidenlike areas without snow-mobiles, cars, industries etc. You don't need to smell the exhaust gases of vehicles like those from the snow-mobile, cars etc. You will also be rather lonely here.

If You like
loneliness, clean air, no noise, then Sjaunja is the right place for You. But You have to be well trianed, be familiar to mountains, especially if You will visit Sjaunja during the winter. If You like birds, wildlife and the nature ”just like it is” then use Your next vacation to visit Sjaunja. But You have to leave Sjaunja in the same condition it was when You arrived. If You don't love the nature ”just like it is” stay whereever You are. All visitors, to Sjaunja and similar areas around the world, need to show a humble spirit, cautiousness and a great will to learn about the place they visit. This will also enrich Your journey.

During the summermonth
June-July-August, You will meet the enormous hordes of the guardians of Sjaunja, the mosquitoes and the black flies (gnats). You will find them more numerous here than in the tropics. Especially late June and all July these insects will be closely attached to You. Bring Your mosquito-repellent. You have to be well trianed as in the winter. Walking 10-15 km/day in the woodlands, the thickets and swamps of Sjaunja, with backpacker, is almost impossible, if You do not have good physical fitness.

I think it is important
that as many people as possible know lots about protected areas. A protected area is not always protected. The human society always want more from our planet. Times chances as well as the demands of the society. We know that, especially from Sweden. National parks like Sarek, Stora Sjöfallet and even the nature reserve of Sjaunja is damaged by hydroelectric power stations and their damconstructions. New roads are built. The use of snow-mobiles during the winter grows, motorcycles are used "off-road" during the summer and autumn, etc. Old primeval forests are cut down, not only in the tropics. In Sweden, USA, Russia and in other countries all over the world this occurs every day. A place like Sjaunja is not just a place for the swedes who lives in northern Sweden. It is not just a local business. UNESCO World Heritage List is a evident of that. All the people, all over our planet, have to take responsibility for, not just our own vicinity, even if that it is a good beginning, but over places, areas, species of animals, birds, fishes, etc, long way from home. That's why I'm doing this homepage. My wish is that Sjaunja will be protected for all time.

Maps
You need are 28J Fjällåsen (scale 1:50 000), all 4 parts, NW, NE, SW and SE. You also need 28I Stora Sjöfallet (scale 1:100 000). The northern parts of Sjaunja is covered by the maps 29J Kiruna (1:100 000) and 29I Kebnekaise (1:100 000). You will find Your Maps on the site of Lantmäteriet.

 
 
Copyright © Rolf G Gustafsson 2008. All rights reserved.