Freedom to Roam in Finland

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In Finland we have this thing called "Everyman's Rights". In a nutshell, it means that nature is for everyone to access and enjoy. While these rights are not laid out in the law, certain things are specifically allowed based on our age-old customs.

Dos and don'ts

It goes without saying that you aren't allowed to harm nature or cause disturbance but these are subjective matters. The range of things you can do in Finland is surprisingly wide and applies to all people, not just citizens. Without permission from the landowner, you can:

  • Roam the land and roads on foot, skis, or bicycle, except for lands with specific use (e.g. sowed fields, plantings, yards). The right does not cover motor vehicles but does cover pedelecs and bicycles with electric motors (L1e-a).
  • Stay temporarily in areas where roaming is allowed (e.g. set up camp for a couple of nights away from dwellings). Camping stoves are allowed.
  • Pick natural berries, mushrooms, and wildflowers, except for protected species. You can also pick dry branches and cones from the ground.
  • Fish with a rod and line, and ice fish.
  • Travel over water and ice, swim.

It is commonly prohibited to:

  • Harm or disturb others or the environment.
  • Disturb nesting birds and game animals.
  • Fell or damage trees.
  • Harvest moss, lichen, soil, or wood.
  • Disturb people's homes.
  • Litter.
  • Ride or drive a motor vehicle on private property.
  • Hunt or fish (excl. angling).
  • Light a campfire, except in an emergency.

Certain limitations apply to nature reserves on a case-by-case basis.

Freedom Through Discipline

It is only possible to retain rights by exercising them. There are people who would gladly prohibit others from doing various things, and the best antidote is tolerization: do it often enough and spread the good word.

That being said, make sure you are informed and responsible about your business. What you carry to the forest, you carry away: leave no trace behind if you can help it. If someone is annoyed by your presence that's on them.

Source: Finland's Environmental Administration