Cultural Heritage in the Midst of Finnish Nature

In a land of vast forests, large northern fell areas and a long coastline, thousands of cultural heritage sites and traces of human activity have been preserved in the nature.

Hikers walking on a path in front of an old timber building on a sunny day. Kovero Crown Tenant Farm, Seitseminen National Park. Photo by Sannamari Ratilainen.
The old Kovero Crown Tenant Farm in Seitseminen National Park features everyday life of the early 1900s. Photo by Sannamari Ratilainen.

Around 10,000 prehistoric or historical sites are found on state-owned land. Those that have been documented include Stone Age dwelling sites, hunting pits, burials, sacred sites and thousands of tar pits. Cultural heritage sites from later periods largely comprise crofts and meadow barns, tracks, logging cabins and timber floating structures dating back to the 1900s.

The most impressive part of this cultural heritage is landscapes shaped by interaction between man and nature. Medieval castle ruins, fortress islands and reindeer round-up sites of the Sámi people are all situated in magnificent landscapes in the midst of northern nature. Today most of these sites belong to nature conservation areas (protected areas).

Prehistoric sites and historical castle ruins and fortresses are protected under the Antiquities Act, and around 400 old buildings or Sámi cultural sites under other legislation.

Metsähallitus has a statutory obligation to safeguard the prerequisites for Sámi culture in the Sámi Homeland and to preserve cultural heritage in many national parks. Under the Act on Metsähallitus, the authority responsible for taking care of cultural heritage in conservation areas is Parks & Wildlife Finland.

Taking care of cultural heritage

The data on documented sites are saved in the geographic information systems of both the Finnish Heritage Agency and Metsähallitus. In Metsähallitus, the data are available for planning officers. We have collected data on cultural heritage in conservation areas as part of planning their management for over 20 years. Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd carried out an extensive survey of commercial forests in 2010–2015.

We use the data and surveys on cultural history when planning the management of these sites, including new trails or forest restoration in protected areas, or silviculture in commercial forests. The staff and the contractors also have fieldwork guidelines.

A few cultural sites are related to the history of forestry, including forest ranger´s farms, which today tell us about life in the woods a hundred years ago and preserve old agricultural landscapes with their valuable species.

Cultural heritage is also a great attraction to visitors. You can learn more about history by visiting the sites themselves, our visitor centres, or web pages. Visitors are welcome to explore traditional ways of farming, or you can apply for a chance to spend a week as a shepherd, caring for livestock in a remote location.

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