National Parks in Finland
Around 65% of Finland’s total land mass is covered in forest, it’s no surprise the Fins have a strong connection to nature. It’s hardly possible to find a Fin who doesn’t appreciate the beautiful environment. This high percentage of forests means that there is around 4,2 hectares of forest (an estimated 13000) for EVERY Fin!
The forest has something magical. The first day we were here as Erasmus students we could not stop looking out of the window. All this nature! At home we live in the countryside, but we had never seen anything like this! The forest keeps going on and on…
To conserve this unique landscape and nature of the country, Metsähallitus (Administration of Forests) established the national parks all over the country.
These parks are large areas of nature conservation. They ensure that Finnish ecosystems and biotopes are maintained and give people the opportunity to go out and experience nature. They offer marked hiking routes, trails and sites to build campfires. For the longer hikes there are even shelters and huts that nature lovers can use free of charge.
Since the first national park was founded in 1938 (Pyhätunturi) there have been added 39 more. The total combined space of national parks nowadays makes up for 9.892km² or 2.5% of Finland. An estimate of 1.7 million people visits the national parks annually. Which is not bad for a country that only has 5.5 inhabitants.
When you take a time to look at every national park in Finland we can observe a real diversity and a big developed biodiversity. By the way, we can separate it in 3 big categories:
· Little Terrestrials Parks: In major cases locate in the South of the country, these parks have the mission of protecting a wild zone reduced by the urban areas of or cultivated areas. That category regroups a swamp, a geological curiosity or a non-exploited forest. Between 10 and 60 km2, the size still not that big. E.g.: Liesjärvi National Park.
· Riparian or Sailors parks: These parks are essentially a group of islands without inhabitants, they covered really little surfaces. That’s not officially free national parks, but the inconvenient for visiting it is the needing of have and use a boat –which can be payable-. E.g.: Linnansaari National Park.
· Lapland Parks or Koillismaa: These are by far the most visited, even if their gigantic surface relativizes attendance. They practically all have an area much larger than 100 km², or even 1000 km² (The aggregate area of only UKK, Pallas-Yllästunturi and Lemmenjoki parks represents 6 420 km², or 79% of the total area of the parks.
Did you know that in Finland there is something called Everyman’s right? Probably a lot of people heard about it, but what is it?
As we already mentioned the core of the Finnish culture is about having a close relationship with nature. The concept of Eveyman’s Rights means that you can walk freely in the forest. But is it just that? No!
- Walk, cycle or ski in outside areas, except private gardens and land which is in a certain use, for example fields or other cultivated areas.
- Spend a short period in areas where access is allowed, for example to put up a tent. But respect people’s privacy and don’t put it up too close to someone’s home.
- Collect mushrooms, berries and flowers
- Catch fishes with a rod and line. In winter you can do it through a hole in the ice à ice fishing
- Walk on the ice during winter and go boating when the ice is melted.
You may not:
- Harm the environment or bother other people or animals or birds while breeding season
- Harm the trees or cut them down
- Pick up moss, soil, lichen or wood
- Leave your litter in the nature.
- Use a motor vehicle off road without the permission of the landowner
- Go fishing and hunting without appropriate permits
- Violate the sphere of privacy of people’s homes
The Everymen’s rights give the same possibilities to everyone, it doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from. And it’s great because spending time in the nature contributes to a sense of well-being and it slows down our life which is too often too stressful. And the most important thing! It teaches us to value the small things in life – and that’s something which we forget more and more in our society.
Experiencing the everyman’s right in Nuuksio national park
In 50 minutes by car from our campus, we were in an incredible conserved area away from the city. Nuuksio National Park, a forest and lake paradise just 30 minutes away from the capital of Helsinki.
We went on a weekday, so no one was there. We hiked trough beautiful paths during 10 kilometers. The time past so fast because we were enjoying the views and the company so much. We had
lunch in a small island in one of the lakes that had a fireplace. We started the fire and grilled our sausages just like Fins do. Have you tried it? They were very tasty!! It was a very good experience, highly recommended!
Joren, Löic, Lukas and Mariona.