James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

A Lapland Photostory

Endless daylight, endless forests and endless lakes. These are the things I’ll remember about Lapland.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last few weeks working up there at the top of Europe as part of my PhD (map!). I’m not really one for essays, so here’s the story in 26 photographs…


“A slowly decreasing pile of data to get sorted before LAPLAND!”


“Packing kit for Lapland, lucky we have extra baggage!”


“Packing kit with my buddy Lawrence, setting off for Lapland first thing in the morning!”


“First stop Helsinki!”


“Still light at midnight in Rovaniemi!”


“Heading North through endless forests towards Ivalo. #Lapland”


“We’ve landed on our feet here in Ivalo. Turns out this is the cheapest place in town, right on the banks of a huge river. It’s a balmy 13degrees too! We’re heading North for the final 150km to Kevo Station tomorrow morning. #forests #Finland #fieldwork #conservation #lapland”


“Beautiful summer evening in Lapland. A dozen reindeer over there on the opposite bank. On the look out for a Karhu…”


“Lake Inari, huge, cold, crystal clear and surrounded by forest. Right over the other side is where Russia starts!”


“So we had to row across a lake to get to work today. Not a ripple on the entire thing, besides our somewhat disorderly paddle strokes. The forest is quite literally a temperate jungle, with hundreds of species of moss, lichen, trees and animals. Of course there’s the clouds of mosquitos, but so far that’s the only downside! #lapland”


“An evening spent prepping samples out here in Kevo, Finland. The Finnish scientists joke that they have until sunset to finish the days work… Shouldn’t be too long in the land if the midnight sun!”


“Captain Lawrence at the helm making the most of 24 hour daylight.”


“Over there on the other side of this river is Norway!”


“We’ve moored up on a little island in the middle of a lake for dinner. Takes about 25 seconds to walk around and comes equipped with a sizeable mozzie population and half a dozen birch trees.”


“Well the good weather has passed and we’re in for storms all day, but with only a limited number of days at the station it’s fieldwork whatever the weather! #lapland #conservation #forests”


“Working up at the treeline today, lots of stunted and struggling pines and birches. A brilliant view over Kevo in the distance.”


“Kevo Strict Nature Reserve is a pretty special place. Tons of standing deadwood, stunning natural tree lines, hillsides covered on Aspen and Birch, all centered on a vast gorge running through the middle. We’ve got a special permit to allow us to do fieldwork in here, and it’s definitely worth the effort!”


“Working away with Lawrence Ball after another day in the field.”


“Ancient Birch forests near Kevo. These trees grow further North than almost any other species globally! It’s lovely and open to walk through with each tree reaching out for space in the canopy. We found Elk scat too!”


“Being biologists, we’re prone to the odd experiment. Up here in Lapland we’ve been fascinated by the huge woodant nests. Turns out that they are so warm and cosy inside, that if you make a small hole, whisps of steam come out! #science #lapland #labandfield”


“Reindeer everywhere up here, but mostly on the roads.”


“This is Nord Kapp, the Northerly most point in Europe! There’s even the odd scattered plants eeking out an existence up here!”


“Had a lovely evening BBQ on the riverbank next to a thundering waterfall. Chicken on the grill and sweet potatoes in the embers. Magic. Going to miss Lapland…”


“Our last day in the forest today, and we shall certainly miss it. Heading back down South to Rovaniemi tomorrow and then home to the UK (hopefully to catch the end of summer?) #fieldwork #finland #Lapland”


“Heading back to good old Blighty after a cracking couple of weeks exploring Lapland. Got enough samples to keep me busy in the lab all through Winter and hoping Santa will be pleased enough to reward us come December!”


“After a summer of fieldwork, it’s great to be back at university getting starting to make sense of all that data! I was beginning to miss Felix, the headless cat skeleton that shares my desk! #phdchat #QMUL #fieldwork #London #science”

Thanks for making it to the bottom!

If you enjoyed that you might also like this piece I wrote for EscTheCity, whilst up there.