Station Manager:
Riku Paavola

TA/RA contacts:
Riku Paavola


Oulanka Research Station was founded in 1966 It belongs to the Thule Institute, and is a regional unit of the University of Oulu in Kuusamo, Finland.


Oulanka Research Station is situated in the river valley of Oulanka within the Oulanka National Park (66°22’ N, 29°19’ E, 166.5 m a.s.l.). The station is c. 25 km south of the Artic Circle, 13 km west of the Russian border, about 280 km northeast of Oulu, and 55 km north of Kuusamo.


Oulanka Research Station operates and offers access to visitors throughout the year. The station is a primary location for field courses at Oulu University (especially biology and geography) with 5-8 different courses and roughly 1500 person-days per year. The station lies in the heart of the Oulanka National Park at an optimal distance to various field research locations. Being a multi-disciplinary research station, Oulanka is open to almost all kinds of research activities. The station has 95 beds, three well-equipped laboratories, an auditorium, classrooms, workshops, and high-speed internet.

A scenic webcam is broadcasting live from the nearby Kiutaköngäs. Follow this link to see what is happening in Oulanka right now.


Oulanka National Park is a northern biodiversity hot-spot, thanks to the calcium-rich bedrock, varying topography, and large environmental gradients within a small area. Moreover, it has historically been at the cross-roads for movement of northern, southern and eastern species. Unlike most of Finland, the local rivers drain towards the Northeast, i.e. to the White Sea.


The study area includes the towns of Kuusamo, Posio, Taivalkoski, and Salla, and covers an area of roughly 100 × 200 km. Most of the research activity is concentrated in and around the Oulanka National Park. Historically research has been focussed on animal and plant ecology as well as geography. Recently sociological aspects have been included as well. Oulanka has a broad range of long-term data series available for researchers. These include both, biological and physical/ chemical datasets, and many of them have been collected since 1966. The datasets cover timeseries on meteorology, water chemistry of streams and lakes, phenology, ice cover, snow cover, active layer depth, air pollution as well as different plant and animal species, etc. Oulanka also offers a recently acquired, extremely comprehensive (70 x 90 km) set of high-resolution aerial photographs covering three different eras, i.e. the early 1950s, the early 1980s, and c. 2005.


The nearest village with stores and services is 13 km away while the ski centre of Ruka is 30 km away. Outside the villages and towns, the area is sparsely populated, but tourism is an important activity with associated impacts on nature. In addition to tourism, forestry and mining are the other major human impacts in the area.


Oulanka Research Station can be reached by car, by bus or by plane to Kuusamo (55 km from the station) year-round.

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