Before I start to talk about berries and start sharing some recipes of what you can make with them, I have to talk about Finland forests again and what they call “Everyman’s right”. First time I heard about it was about 12 years ago when we came for our first visit to Finland. It is simple. With the exception of few rules, all the forests, lakes, marshes are free for everyone to walk, enjoy what they offer. As long as you are not too close to someone’s residence, you are fine walking, skiing, swimming…..
I remember during our first visit, we were driving somewhere and it was time for me to feed my little guy (he was 5 months old). We just took a turn into a road that led to a forest and stopped. Took a short break, fed the baby, walked in the forest a bit and then continued on. It definitely belonged to some private individual and even the street leading to it was private but it doesn’t matter. As long as we don’t cause too much disturbance, we can stop, take a break and continue our journey.
We used to travel between Tampere (where we used to live) and my in-laws home town (in mid-Finland) quite often. Since little boys can’t sit still in car for long journeys, we used to make these pit stops in the forests. He can get out, pee if needed and run around a bit (I mean explore a bit), get that extra energy out and off we go again. It is quite convenient not worrying about constantly keeping an eye out for rest areas.
You can even camp temporarily in any forest (longer term camping needs a permit from the land owner, of course). If needed, you can pick twigs, needles or dried leaves but cannot cut down trees or even take the fallen trees. You can also pick berries and flowers in any forest with the exception of any that are designated as protected.
As I mentioned in the previous blog, there are a lot of lakes in Finland and of course lakes have .. fish! While summers are about going in a boat to fish, winters are about ice-fishing. You can do certain types of fishing (such a angling) in any lake in summer or winter for free. You can also swim or go in a boat but certain limitations do apply. You cannot drive a motorboat (loud noises) near residences continuously. Apparently a motor boat can be driven by anyone above 15yrs of age!! Not looking forward to that worry just yet:)
In National forests same rules apply, of course (Probably that’s the reason they don’t charge any entry fee or parking fee in national forests). If a particular forest is designated to be National reserve or Protected area, there are certain rules to follow. Any berries/flowers etc that are designated to be protected cannot be picked also. Part of the forests are cleared for cultivation of course. During the crop growing season, (usually late spring, summer and part of Fall), you cannot walk through the fields but in winter you can walk across any field.
Dogs seem to have similar rights except they have to be on leash unless the owner of the forest gives permission. Between 1 March and 19 August when the game animals are raising families, dogs definitely need to be on leash (which just ended and I hear duck hunting season started today):)
From my little research, this seems to be the case in all the Nordic countries with a few differences here and there… Of course the freedom to enjoy nature comes with responsibilities and I have to say people do take that responsibility quite seriously. They teach kids to respect those responsibilities as well.
Here’s a whole description of “Everyman’s right” in Finland (.pdf document). One sentence in that made me laugh out loud though… “Parking a vehicle on the side of the road is allowed, because, in general, the vehicle cannot be left on the road”. Ah! Finnish humor.
Until next time…..