The Finnish landscape is very varied, as Finland is over 1 000 kilometres long. Its northernmost parts lie above the Arctic Circle. In the southernmost part is the archipelago with hundreds and hundreds of islands. Inbetween, vast forested areas and mires cover most of Finland’s surface area. The tens of thousands of lakes interspersed in these forests are very typical and epitomize the essence of Finland. In Lapland, there are fells, the highest of which rise up to heights over 1 300 metres.
Finland’s natural features are conserved in protected areas that cover nearly 4 million hectares state-owned lands and waters of the country’s total surface area of 34 million hectares. Protected areas are usually in state ownership and management, but there are also privately owned nature reserves. State-owned protected areas are managed by Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Sevices.
National parks, wilderness areas and hiking areas are the most important parts of the protected area network in Finland. Almost all of 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 35 national parks conserve archipelago, lake, mire, forest and fell landscapes and their species. In Lapland, a dozen of special wilderness areas or reserves have been established to protect the livelihoods of the indigenous Sámi people. Seven national hiking areas were set up in areas of exceptional natural beauty. On top of this, many other kinds of protected areas also guarantee the conservation of the most unique parts of Finnish nature - for the benefit of natural diversity.
Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services has set up www.outdoors.fi, a special website for nature lovers. It is available in the three official languages Finnish, Swedish and Sámi, as well as English.
Information about Finland's national parks and other protected areas is available at the Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Sevices website.