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Call of the wild

Harald Helander

Call of the wild is one of the most exciting publications on nature conservation of our time. Well-known conservationist and civil engineer Harald Helander wrote his life story as a book at the age of 81. The book has been published in German, Finnish and now in English, too.

Harald Helander was born in Helsinki in 1934. His Finnish father was a civil engineer and worked for the government Agency for Maritime Transportation where he was in charge of the lighthouses in Finland. His mother was the youngest daughter of a German merchant family. During the War of Continuation between the USSR and Finland, Harald, as a schoolboy, moved with his parents to Germany, where his father, Ilmari, led construction projects for Finnish wooden houses to alleviate the severe housing shortage of the German population following the ongoing bombardment by the Allies.

It was only after fifteen years that Harald Helander returned to his home country to perform his military service. After being assigned to Lapland, he soon fell in love with its unique nature of which his father had often told him enthusiastically, Helander made several incredibly long wilderness hikes throughout the 1960s and 1970s across the then-untouched wilderness of Lapland, for which his diaries and hand-drawn drawings provide a convincing insight.

After graduating as a civil engineer, he set out for a world of challenges for a young and brave man. For decades he worked as a senior engineer for major construction projects in Europe, Africa, the Middle and Far East. Harsh conditions and the culture of those countries made him an experienced cosmopolitan. He managed to overcome difficult and dangerous situations with incredible flexibility and perseverance. Holidays in his own country, Lapland, gave him the strength to endure all trials.

When the Finnish pulp and paper industry demanded the use of Lapland´s forest resources in the 1980s, which meant cutting down the last wilderness forest of Northern Lapland, the homeland of the Sami people, it marked a milestone in Helander´s life. At the peak of his successful career as a civil engineer he decided to move with his wife from Indonesia to Lapland in 1987 to begin his neverending fight for endangered pristine nature. The rescue of last primeval forests, the prevention of the huge Vuotos reservoir and the success in saving Lake Inari´s unique nature has been greatly influenced by Harald Helander.