Someone might have told you about the everyman’s rights? It is an ancient tradition which is still alive in certain European countries i.e. in the Nordic and Baltic countries, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and Austria. Everyman’s rights refer to the general public’s freedom to roam practically anywhere for recreation. In this blog post, we’ll tell you what those rights mean.
Right to enjoy nature
Everyone in Finland can enjoy outdoor pursuits regardless of who owns or occupies the land. You do not need the landowner’s permission, and there is no charge for the use. However, you must not damage the environment or disturb others while exercising public access rights.
Basically this means that you can walk, ski, or cycle in areas outside private gardens and lands that are not in a specific use (for example cultivated fields and plantations).
In addition, you can camp for a short period in any area where access is otherwise allowed. This means that you can put up a tent as long as it’s not too close people’s homes. If you can see into someone’s yard and they can see you, you are too close!
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Right to pick berries and mushrooms
The Finnish forests produce enormous amounts of berries and mushrooms every year. Public access rights give the possibility to enjoy that plenty. You are allowed to pick wild berries, mushrooms, and flowers.
You are not, however, allowed to collect moss, lichen, soil, or wood. These would be considered damaging nature.
Spruce sprouts can be used as food and as a seasoning, but collecting them requires a permission from the landowner.
Boating and fishing rights
Public access rights allow you to boat on lakes and at the sea. Just remember to adhere to boat traffic regulations. Just remember to stay far enough from private piers and summer houses.
Everyman right’s allow you to fish for free to a certain extent. Anyone is allowed to angle with one rod and line. However, if you wish to spin fish you must pay the fishing management fee. Children under 18 and elderly people over 63 are exempted from the fee. Fishing management fee is very reasonable, in 2019 it was 45 euros per year. There are a few rapid sites and managed rainbow trout sites where an extra fee is required from all ages. Usually these are well marked. You can read more about fishing permits here.
In the winter, people are free to walk on ice and try their luck with ice-fishing. No permissions are needed. Just caution with regards the ice.
Limitations to everyman’s rights
It is good to bear in mind that despite all the freedom you shouldn’t disturb other people and the privacy of their homes or summer houses.
Don’t damage the environment or litter. Never light an open fire without the landowner’s permission. And remember to adhere to forest fire warnings.
Driving a motor vehicle off the road without the landowner’s permission is also prohibited.
In national parks, there are also unlocked wilderness cabins that are open to anyone. Respect the unwritten rules: clean after yourself, keep things tidy, and replace what you use (e.g. chopped firewood). Wilderness huts are not for commercial use, and the bed (a wooden bunk) is always to be offered for the one arriving last.
Enjoy your rights!
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This post was last edited June 9, 2020.
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