Openness of activities
As a rule, official documents are public in Finland. In the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, authorities refer not only to central government administrative authorities and other agencies and institutions but also to state enterprises, such as Metsähallitus (section 4 of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities).
The purpose of public access to documents is to ensure transparency in the activities of public authorities and to enable individuals and communities to monitor the use of public power and public funds, to freely formulate their opinions and to influence the exercise of public power and to monitor their rights and interests.
Everyone has the right to be informed of an official document that is public. However, not all Metsähallitus documents and materials are public. Metsähallitus conducts a wide range of business activities, and many of the documents related to the business operations are such that its disclosure would cause financial damage or would put another public corporation or private company engaged in similar activities in a better competitive position or weaken its operating conditions. These include various trade and rental prices. Publishing certain documents could harm our business partners, so there is a legitimate reason to keep them secret.
The Act on the Openness of Government Activities contains provisions on public documents falling within the scope of the Act, documents falling outside the scope of the Act, public documents and confidential documents on a discretionary basis.
Information on a confidential official document or its contents may only be provided if separately provided (section 10 of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities). The authority may decide on the secrecy of a document only if the basis for secrecy is set by law. Confidentiality cannot be imposed, for example, by decree or by the authority’s own decision.
The basis for the confidentiality of Metsähallitus documents is stipulated at least in the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (section 24 of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities) and the General Data Protection Regulation and Act. In the activities of Metsähallitus, the basis for secrecy can be, for example, the protection of natural values: documents that contain information about endangered animal or plant species or the protection of valuable natural areas (to be kept secret if providing information about them would risk the protection of the animal or plant species or area in question); Metsähallitus’ own business or professional secrets (absolute confidentiality) or information about other similar business matters (to be kept confidential if providing information about them would cause financial damage to Metsähallitus or put another public entity or private entity engaged in similar or otherwise competing activities in a better competitive position), private business or professional secrets (absolute confidentiality) or information about other similar business matters (to be kept confidential if providing information about them would cause economic damage to the trader, and the issue in question is not to protect the health of consumers or the health of the environment or to monitor the rights of those affected by the operation of relevant information or the trader’s obligations and information about their treatment); section 24, subsection1, paragraph 20 of the Act on the Openness of Government Activities.
Request for information
Everyone has the right to be informed of an official document that is public. Requests for access to the documents of an authority must be sufficiently identified so that the authority (Metsähallitus) can determine which document the request concerns. The decision on issuing an official document is made by the authority in whose possession the document is held (Metsähallitus).
If the request for a document cannot be accepted, the person requesting the document will be informed of the justified reason for the refusal and asked whether the requester wishes to have their request for information resolved by the authority, i.e. to receive a written decision by Metsähallitus on the matter. Under the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, an administrative decision concerning disclosure of information (written decision by Metsähallitus) may be appealed to the Administrative Court, and the decision includes instructions for appealing.
More information: Asiakirjanjulkisuuskuvaus.