People

Introducing project members

Tuomas hugging a kelo

Tuomas Aakala is the coordinator of the Kelo-project and associate professor at the University of Eastern Finland. His interest in the kelo-project is in unraveling the dynamics of these iconic elements in the boreal forest – what are the processes behind their development and their longevity as part of the forest ecosystem.

Philippe Fayt next to an aspen

Philippe Fayt is a postdoc wildlife biologist from the University of Eastern Finland, sharing now his time between responsibilities as Project Planner at the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment of North Karelia (ELY Centre) and his involvements in the national flying squirrel survey and the Kelo-project. In this project, Philippe is focusing his research interest on the contribution of Kelo trees to the overall tree cavity supply found in eastern boreal forests, and how the Kelo tree characteristics (size, decay, morphology) relate to cavity formation, type and occupancy. Answering those questions will prove to be crucial knowing the importance of tree cavities for the forest biodiversity. 

Tilla coring an oak

Mariina Günther, nicknamed Tilla, is doing her PhD in the Kelo-project. She will be focusing on studying the chemical composition of kelo trees, to find out if and how the chemical characteristics of kelo trees differ from other dead Scots pine trees. This can shed light on how kelo trees are formed and which factors (like fire scarring or other injuring) influence the chemical change to kelo. Tilla is interested in the continuation of dynamic and diverse boreal forest ecosystems.

Antti profiili

Professor Antti Haapala studies different ways of converting woody biomass in industrial processes and the application areas for the refined products. He is a senior researcher in the Wood Materials Science research group and a docent of applied physics. His background is in development of sustainable processes in the realm of chemical wood refining, including pulp and paper, nanocellulose and biocomposites. He has published research papers on process design, unit operations, paper product properties and manufacture and applications of cellulose fibres and their properties. Antti Haapala is one of Tilla Günther’s PhD supervisors.  

Panu Halme investigating a log

Panu Halme is a university lecturer at the University of Jyväskylä. He has studied conservation biology of wood-inhabiting fungi for years and is especially interested in the interaction between the history of a forest patch and the species assemblage it hosts. In Kelo project Panu will be involved in studying kelo-dependent species, and the potential methods to make kelos artificially. 

Teppo Helo sitting by a stump

Teppo Helo works as a species conservation specialist in the The Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre). In the recent years he has investigated the ecology and distribution of boreal zone polypore fungi and Corticium fungi. Before collecting samples, Teppo also photographs all the Aphyllophorales in the field to better document the macroscopic fresh characteristics of the species. You can see the gallery of these photos from this link. 

Kaisa in Ruunaa in 2010

Kaisa Junninen works at Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland as a senior advisor in species conservation. As a mycologist she is fascinated by the special species assemblages of polypore fungi found only on old fallen kelo trees. In the Kelo project, Kaisa helps in finding study sites and planning kelo restoration measures in protected areas governed by Metsähallitus. 

Jari Kouki exploring a big, old and partly burned standing kelo tree

Jari Kouki is professor of forest ecology at the University of Eastern Finland. He has studied and is excited about the dynamics of kelos, their chemistry and decomposition, and species assemblages associated with kelos and other standing dead pines. One of his main focuses has been the effects that forest fire or wood burning may have on pines and kelos. In the Kelo-project, he is the main supervisor of Aleksi Nirhamo and co-supervisor of Tilla Günther and Pemelyn Santos. Jari’s personal web pages.

Niina Kuosmanen next to a charred stem

Niina Kuosmanen is a paleoecologist, working as a university researcher at the University of Helsinki. Her research has focused on long-term (millennial scale) dynamics of temperate mountain and boreal forests. Her main research interests related to Kelo project are in the past disturbance history of boreal forests and especially on fire history and the effect of fires on the forest composition and structure. 

Ritva taking a drone picture

Photography artist Ritva Kovalainen has since the 90s utilized various perspectives to view forests and related ecological and cultural questions. Kovalainen has produced material in forms of books, movies and exhibitions. In the Kelo-project she will continue her visual research among natural forests documenting both the work of the researchers and the ancient aesthetics of kelos. 

Timo Kuuluvainen

Timo Kuuluvainen is Senior University Lecturer and Docent of Forest Ecology in the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His research has focused on the fundamental interactions between structure, dynamics and biodiversity of the boreal forest, using both empirical and modeling approaches. His current research is focused on using this ecological understanding to develop methods of restoration and ecosystem management of the boreal forest.   

Juho Paukkunen with an insect net

Juho Paukkunen works as a senior museum technician in the The Finnish Museum of Natural History and is a Doctor of Philosophy. His doctoral thesis was about the taxonomy and ecology of the North-Europe Cuckoo wasps. He works as a chairman in the Finnish Expert Group on Hymenoptera and was a part of the Hymenoptera endangerment evaluations of 2010 and 2019. In the last years Juho has been spending his time on different projects on bees (Anthophila) and other pollinators (e.g. TEKOPÖLY, PÖLYMETSÄ and PEBIHOITO and the national pollinator monitoring). In the Kelo-project Juho will study the importance of kelos as habitats and nesting sites for Hymenoptera. 

Aleksi measuring the height of a tree

Aleksi Nirhamo is a PhD researcher at the University of Eastern Finland. In his PhD, he is studying epiphytic lichens on Pinus sylvestris, and in this project he is studying the lichen communities on kelo trees. Aleksi is especially interested in the development of lichen communities on kelo trees over time after the tree death, and in the species composition of the oldest kelo trees.  

Pem working in a rocky scenary

Pemelyn Santos is currently pursuing DSc (Agr. & For.) at the University of Eastern Finland under the supervision of Tuomas Aakala and Jari Kouki. In the Kelo-project, she focuses on the dynamics of kelo trees across boreal forest landscapes. Her main research goal is to investigate the growth history of kelo trees, the patterns of their formation, and the standing time after death, including the influence of forest disturbances.

Sanni Seppo working in the forest

Sanni Seppo joins the Kelo-project as a photography artist. She will study the theme of kelos with pictures: in addition to photographing the trees, she will capture pictures of the kelo-inhabiting creatures as well as of the work of kelo researchers. 

Gergely Várkonyi next to an anthill

Gergely Várkonyi is senior researcher at Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) in the Friendship Park Research Centre unit, Kuhmo. He has been organizer and coordinator of international projects aiming at surveying kelo trees and associated organisms, particularly in Russian Karelia. In the Kelo project, Gergely’s main focus lies on use of standing kelo trunks by hole-nesting insects and their natural enemies. 

Harri Vasander in Iceland in 2022

Harri Vasander is the professor of Peatland Forestry at the Department of Forest Sciences in University of Helsinki. He will retire in November 2022 but continues working in Kelo-project as a field assistant depending on need and his strength. In addition, he takes part in communicating the project to the wider public and executing seminars and books etc. to popularize the results of this project.