This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication is the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
The flora is the evolutionarily determined set of plant species growing in a certain area. The flora is commonly understood as the complex of vascular plants, otherwise a specifying definition is used - moss flora, lichen flora, etc.
The administrative district of Suojärvi is constituted by four floristic districts. The central part belongs to the Suojärvi, southern - to the Ladoga, eastern and northern - to the Zaonezhje floristic districts. The first one covers nearly 1/2 of the administrative district, the second one - 1/6, the third one - 1/3. A smallest area (less than 1/20) in the very south-east of the district belongs to the Olonets floristic district. Thus, even in a small area like the Suojärvi District, the flora of its different parts has certain distinctions. In the south, it is enriched with many southern (nemoral, boreonemoral, south-taiga) as well as relic northern species occurring on rocks; in the north and east - with eastern species typical of Zaonezhje and regions east of Karelia, in the western and central parts - with western (Atlantic) species. In general however, the Suojärvi District flora has a clearly taiga appearance, as determined by the location in the centre of middle taiga.
Botanical studies in the Suojärvi District began in the second half of the 19th century, when the prominent Finnish botanist J. P. Norrlin visited Suojärvi and the surroundings while surveying Zaonezhje. Early in the 20th century, the territory was surveyed by the famous Finnish scholar of floristics and geobotany A.K. Cajander, who discovered, among other things, the florally unique Hiisjärvi area. The area was thereafter visited by quite a few Finnish botanists, and its vegetation and flora have been thoroughly studied. Later on, in 1938 one of Finland's first reserves was organized there. In 1914-1915, K. Linkola surveyed the area north of Lake Ladoga to the village of Kuolismaa. The results were published and used as the basic material for his doctorate thesis. This paper still remains highly valuable, representing the most detailed report on the Suojärvi District flora. The northern and western shore of Lake Janisjärvi and Paapero station area near Suojärvi were also examined quite closely. During World War II, the northern part of the district was surveyed by J. Soveri. In 1948 and 1949, specialized West Karelian expeditions of the USSR Academy of Science Karelian-Finnish Branch were set up to study the Suojärvi District flora. Within these, Tolvajärvi and Toivola village areas were surveyed. In the 1950s, some localities in the district (Kokkari, Korpiselkä, Kuolismaa, Käsnäselkä, Porosozero, Suojärvi, Suistamo and Tolvajärvi) were visited by the best expert in Karelian flora M. Ramenskaya. Nonetheless, most of the district is poorly known from the botanical point of view, and some sites have never been surveyed at all. Best studied in the territory is the Tolvajärvi landscape reserve, where 368 plant species were found.
As of today, a total of 650 vascular plant species have been reported from the Suojärvi District. The richest and most peculiar flora is found in the north-east of the district (Porosozero-Gumarino), its utter south (Lake Hiisjärvi), eastern shore of Lake Suojärvi, and all of the eastern and north-eastern shore of Lake Janisjärvi (eastward to Raikonkoski), i.e. the areas with outcrops or shallow bedding of basic or carbonaceous bedrock.
The flora in human settlements differs notably from that in areas with natural, even if secondary, vegetation. A substantial proportion of the flora in settlements is tramp species and escapees from cultivation. Most comprehensively studied is the flora of the town of Suojärvi, where 357 plant species have been found. The main pathway for the arrival of adventitious species in the town is the railway.
For one reason or another, many plant species are rare and require protection. Species can be initially rare, e.g. owing to low competitiveness, strict bond to certain, very specific habitats, location at the periphery of the distribution range, etc. Yet, many species are rendered rare by human activities. The strongest anthropogenic factors leading to species decline or extinction in the Suojärvi District are logging, mire drainage (in the recent past), far less important ones are construction, gathering of decorative flowers (especially close to human communities). In the district flora, 52 species are listed in various Red Data Books: of the Russian Federation - 10, Karelia - 42, East Fennoscandia - 41 species. A national conservation status has been given to orchids such as the yellow lady's slipper, fairy slipper, narrow-leaved marsh orchid and ghost orchid, aquatic plants - lake quillwort, bristle club-rush and water lobelia, the inhabitant of bedrock outcrops - rock campion, mire species - livid sedge and brown beak-sedge, the inhabitant of water-logged meadows and scrub - least grape-fern.