The Finnish landscape is very varied, as Finland is over 1 000 kilometres long. Its northernmost parts lie above the Arctic Circle with vast wilderness areas and rolling fells. In the southernmost part, there is the archipelago with thousands of islands and islets. In between, vast forested areas and mires cover most of Finland’s surface area. Tens of thousands of lakes intersperse with these forests forming the typical landscape of Finland.
Finland’s natural features are conserved in protected areas that cover nearly 5,6 million hectares (14 %) of the country’s total surface area of 39 million hectares. Approximately 14 % of land and inland water surface is protected as well as 11 % of marine areas. Protected areas are mostly in state ownership and management, but 6-7% of the protected area surface is privately owned. State-owned protected areas are managed by Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland (metsa.fi).
There are several different categories of protected areas in Finland. These guarantee the conservation of the most unique parts of Finnish nature. National parks (1 million ha) and wilderness reserves (1,5 million ha) are the most important parts of the protected area network in Finland. These are included in the European Union’s network of Natura 2000 areas. Finland’s protected areas are an essential part of the international network of protected areas
Finland’s 40 national parks protect archipelago, lake, mire, forest and fell landscapes and the associated species as well as provide recreational opportunities for people. In Lapland, a dozen of special wilderness reserves have been established to preserve the wilderness character of these areas and to safeguard the indigenous Saami culture and their nature-based forms of livelihood.
Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland has set up www.nationalparks.fi, a special website for nature lovers. It is available in Finnish, Swedish and English and partly in two Saami languages, Russian and Chinese.
For more information on Protected Areas in Finland, please see Parks & Wildlife Finland’s website (metsa.fi).