Public water areas controlled by Metsähallitus

Public water areas and the bottoms of watercourses are the property of the Finnish government, with the exception of those in the Åland Islands, which belong to the Province of Åland.

Metsähallitus controls approx. 610,000 hectares of lakes and approx. 2.8 million hectares of sea areas, accounting for more than one half of Finland’s territorial waters. While most of these state-owned water areas are public, many different protected areas also include waters. Five Finnish national parks are located in sea areas: the Gulf of Finland, Ekenäs Archipelago, Archipelago, Bothnian Sea and Bothnian Bay National Parks.

Metsähallitus’ role in water areas

Metsähallitus’ role in public water areas is to perform the property owner’s tasks. As the steward of these areas, we grant permits for national parks and similar, and supervise hunting and fishing in public water areas.

Additionally, we are responsible for mapping and protecting marine nature and freshwater habitats and for maintaining recreational fishing areas.

We also search for offshore areas suitable for aquaculture and lease areas suitable for fish farming to companies.

Taking action for the waters

In the conservation of marine environments, our main objective is safeguarding biodiversity, improving the status of ecological values in protected areas, and producing and collecting data to support the management of and decision-making on the protected area network.

In freshwater bodies, our actions include improving migratory fish habitats, for example by removing minor obstacles hampering migration and restoring habitats.

Activities in the catchment area of the Baltic Sea, which is about four times larger than its actual surface area, play a major role in the condition of the sea.

We take water protection into consideration in all forestry operations. The aim of our water protection measures is to prevent solids washout and nutrient leaching and to clarify runoff waters as efficiently as possible. Small headwaters are the most sensitive to forestry operations, and we pay particular attention to protecting them.

Particularly in sensitive areas, catchment area analyses are produced to support the planning of water management measures. These analyses can be used to assess the total load caused by harvesting, tillage, drain maintenance and fertilisation measures in the relevant catchment area.

We take part in the Baltic Sea challenge

We participate in the Baltic Sea Challenge, a network initiative which invites organisations to make commitments to protecting the Baltic Sea as well as to produce and implement their own Baltic Sea Action Plans. 

Metsähallitus participates in the Baltic Sea Challenge through five policies, which promote different themes of our corporate social responsibility programme. The measures include both concrete restoration work as well as guidance and monitoring. 

More information about our work related to waters