Network of Protected Areas

Protected areas help conserve the unique features and diversity of Finnish nature as a part of an international network. Nature is not conserved for the sole purpose of preserving natural features, but also to ensure the well-being of people and to preserve good living conditions. Many protected areas also have national landscapes and cultural heritage sites, which must be conserved.

Protected areas can be either on state-owned or privately-owned lands. They can be established by law, by statute or a decision by Finland’s environmental administration. Most protected areas are situated on state land. State-owned protected areas are managed by Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland.

Nature reserves, wilderness areas and hiking areas established on state-owned lands are the central parts of the protected area system in Finland. Almost all of these are included in the European Union’s network of Natura 2000 areas. Privately-owned protected lands further expand on the state-owned network of protected areas. The protected areas located in Finland are an important part of the international network of conservation areas.

The network of protected areas in Finland includes not only areas already established by statute, but also yet to be established areas which are part of nature conservation programmes. The state buys and trades land in order to acquire such areas. Some locations which are part of nature conservation programmes are also Natura 2000 areas. Nature conservation programme areas are then converted into protected areas by a law or by a statute drawn up by the Ministry of the Environment.