The central forest running the length of Helsinki

Snowy Central Park © the City of Helsinki materialbank, Matti Miinalainen.
Central Park is a nearly ten-kilometre-long forested green space running the length of Helsinki from south to north, starting near the city centre in Laakso and ending at the city’s northern border in Haltiala and the river Vantaanjoki.

The park is a very popular recreational area with a diverse range of environments and also serves as a peaceful commuter cycling route. The habitats of the Central Park are varied, consisting of numerous old, spruce-dominated forests, herb-rich forests, meadows and fields. You can also sense the versatility of the area in its soundscape.

“I forget that I’m in the capital every time that I dive into the depths of the forest on skis.”

Annika, 44

The various habitats of Central Park also house several rare species of plants, and in the summer the park is filled with a variety of colourful flowers. The old forests provide excellent living conditions for a diverse range of polypores. One indication of the diversity of the park’s forests is the fact that they are home to Siberian flying squirrels. The area also houses a broad range of bird species.

The northern part of the park includes several conservation areas: the hillside herb-rich forest of Pitkäkoski, Haltiala primeval forest area, Niskala arboretum, the coastal herb-rich forest of Ruutinkoski and the Vantaanjoki riverbank. The coastal herb-rich forest of Ruutinkoski is also part of the national herb-rich forest conservation programme. Planning is currently underway for the establishment of two new conservation areas in Haltiala: the Haltiala herb-rich forest and the Paloheinä wooded mire. In addition to these, there is also a hazel forest in Maunula, which is designated as a protected habitat type under the Nature Conservation Act.

The Central Park is an important place for many city residents due to its intriguing soundscape. The Central Park offers an excellent and diverse range of sounds: the humming of the old forest, the rush of the river and the roar of the rapids, the chirping of a multitude of birds, the rustling of the fields… In the vast Central Park, you can easily find a tranquil place to listen to the sounds of nature, even though the southern part of the Central Park is partly troubled by the noise of road traffic, whereas in the northern parts, you can hear air traffic.

The approximately three-kilometre-long Maunula nature trail starts at the Maunula hiking lodge and passes through the Maunula Urn Cemetery. There is also a pet cemetery near Maunula hiking lodge, which serves as the resting place of a number of notable pets, including the dog of former President Paasikivi. Near the middle of Central Park lies Pirkkola sports park, where you can engage in a variety of sports.

Niskala arboretum, located in Haltiala, can be explored with the help of the many information boards in the area or by walking the Get to know trees nature trail.