Living in Finland

Enjoying the Finnish nature in the winter

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When foreigners in Finland are asked what they appreciate most in Finland, Finnish nature is often at or near the top of the list. In this blog post, we’ll introduce an easy way to enjoy it during the winter.

Everyman’s rights

In Finland, nature is really close even if you are living in the heart of one of the largest Finnish cities. In Helsinki, for example, the large Central Park area that extends from Töölö in the south to river Vantaa in the north provides excellent opportunities to roam in Finnish forests of different kinds. 

What allows to you enjoy the Finnish nature is the so-called “everyman’s rights” or the right to roam. In the Nordic countries, Baltic countries, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and Austria this freedom to roam is based on an ancient tradition. It means the general public’s right to access public or privately owned land, lakes, and rivers for recreation. 

These rights allow you to

  • move in nature by foot, biking, or skiing. You can do this as long as you stay off cultivated fields and far enough from people’s yards; 
  • swim, row, and boat on lakes and the sea;
  • go camping in the woods; and
  • pick wildflowers, berries, and mushrooms. 

What you are not allowed to do is to

  • litter; 
  • fell or hurt trees;
  • cause disturbance to animals during their breeding season;
  • drive a motorized vehicle in the woods;
  • hunt or fish without appropriate permits;
  • start a campfire without the explicit permission of the landowner; or
  • collect moss, lichen, dirt or branches. 

Remember, you must stay off people’s yards. If you can stare into the eyes of someone standing in their own yard, you are probably too close to their property!

Enjoying Finnish nature during the winter

In the summer, enjoying the Finnish nature comes naturally. Nice weather invites you to take a walk in the park or a dip in a lake. Enjoying the outside during the winter, however, can be challenging irrespective of one’s native origin. The darkness is just not that appealing. 

When the winter was starting, or better yet when we thought the winter was starting we published a blog post about winter sports in Finland. In it, we encouraged you to get ready for the wintery outdoor activities. Skiing, skating, downhill skiing, and sledding are the ways to enjoy a normal Finnish winter. This year the winter has been anything but normal. Southern parts of the country have seen rarely any snow. Outside skating rinks have been impossible to maintain.

What is one to do then? Apart from traveling to Lapland, that is. 

Neighborhood birdwatching 

What you can do, and this you can do just by staying in your own neighborhood, is to participate in BirdLifeFinland’s weekend birdwatching event this coming weekend. BirdLifeFinland organizes this low-threshold birdwatching event every year on the last week of January.

BirdLifeFinland's logo for the birdwatching event of the end of January

The purpose of the event is to get everyone excited about the nature that exists around them in their own neighborhood. They encourage you to pay attention to the birds visiting feeding stations or just our yards in general. What you are supposed to do is to

  • dedicate an hour for birdwatching either on Saturday or Sunday;
  • note which birds you see;
  • count how many birds of each species there are;
  • let BirdLifeFinland know how many of what birds you saw. 

They will open a webform on their webpages here for the counts. You are only supposed to this for that one hour on either day. They’ll have a raffle for all those that submitted their observations. 

If you have kids, you can really have fun with this and make your own competition out of it. 

But I don’t know any birds!

Even if you don’t recognize any Finnish birds yet, your kids might. If you have school-aged children, chances are they have been birdwatching this week. Many schools around Finland have been taking part in this birdwatching challenge this week. 

Last year over 24 000 people submitted their observations covering nearly 16 000 locations around the country.

If all of you are equally unfamiliar with Finnish birds, BirdLifeFinland helps you with that. They have a handy little guide that shows you the most common birds you’ll see in Finnish nature during the winter. The bird names in the guide are in Finnish, Swedish, and Latin. The Latin name helps you google the bird’s name in your native language. This same webpage also has a video helping you recognize the most common birds by sound. 

More about the Finnish nature

If you would like to learn more about Finnish nature in a convenient and fast way, our next upcoming tutorial will do the job. It’ll come out later on this spring. 

We have organized our tour of Finnish nature around the four seasons. We’ll focus on the nature around you, to the things you or your child run into during your daily commutes to and from work or school. This is not a wilderness or a survival guide. 

In addition to talking about plant and animal species, we’ll be talking a lot about how to enjoy Finnish nature during each particular season. A large part of that enjoyment is all the good things there are to harvest in Finnish woods. The tutorial will thus include a recipe booklet also organized around seasons. 

Keep your eye out for the launch of our new tutorial!  And have fun birdwatching this weekend!

The mission of Finnwards is to help you build a uniquely Finnish life for yourself and your family. Our online tutorials will give you the information and tools to you need to succeed in your professional and private life in Finland: https://school.finnwards.com/


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