A Network of Protected Areas Conserves Finland’s Nature
Protected areas help conserve the unique features and diversity of Finnish nature. 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.
- Nature reserves are established on state-owned lands by law or by a government regulation or on privately-owned lands by the decision of Finland's environmental administration.
- Wilderness areas are established in accordance to the Wilderness Act on state lands in Lapland.
- National hiking areas are established in accordance to the “Outdoor Recreation Act” (ulkoilulaki) on state land in different parts of Finland.
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 government has made a decision in principle that these areas be reserved as protected areas.
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. New nature reserves can also be established on private lands, if the plan is accepted by Finland's environmental administration’s local regional office.