Everyman’s right

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…..

IMG_4420I 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.

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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.

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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…..

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As the title suggests, I am an Indian (born and raised) who lived and worked in California, married a Finnish guy and now living in Finland raising our son. Here's my take on living in Finland.

One thought on “Everyman’s right

  1. It would be fabulous to live where freedom, respect and responsibility were shared goals as it seems to be in Finland. I’m sure life in Finland isn’t perfect, but it surely sounds like Utopia compared to what we endure every day. It seems that in our freedom journey on this side of the pond, we have somehow lost our way. For whatever reason, today’s children have no idea how respect and responsibility fit into their lives; they are alien concepts.

    There is likely no single instance that can be isolated as THE cause of our stumbling over the rocky road. It was probably an amalgam of events that coalesced into a “perfect storm” that maybe began as long ago as the Civil War in which the goal was to end slavery. Slavery was banned, but there was loathing and dissent among many people for taking away their “right” to own slaves.

    Next, we became involved in World War II, a time in which women were needed to join the workforce because their men were overseas. After which came the advent of birth control when, for the first time in their lives, women could determine when they would conceive a child. Those two events, in themselves, caused momentous changes in our attitudes, values and beliefs.

    After WWII came the Vietnam fiasco and the hippie movement in which “peace and love” became the catchphrase and spawned yet another mind shift in how we raised our children and how men’s roles in the nuclear family changed. People in the movement and maybe on the fringes seemed more focused on exploring their minds: tune out and turn on.

    For the most part hippies turned their backs on everything their previous generations had tried to preserve and promote. Everything “establishment” was challenged including middle class values, and the “generation gap” was born. Hippies didn’t want to be like their parents or grandparents and share those values, attitudes and beliefs. Hippies wanted to create a new life order that they could claim as solely their own. And not all of that was bad. For example, a positive spinoff from that movement gave us a new sense of stewardship toward our environment and planet.

    Ten years later we were asking our friends and colleagues how those changes would affect us and our children in the future. I recall a time when my son was in the third grade (1973) and he was struggling with spelling. I spoke with his (hippie age) teacher who told me that students weren’t being taught spelling because it “inhibited their creativity.” Classroom rules diminished to a “if it feels good, do it” approach, mimicking a hippie phrase.

    Thus, on one hand there is my generation (WWII) and the next generation (Korean War) that typically holds tight to the old value system, and we are bumping up against the Baby Boomers, hippie, yuppie and millennial generations who are, for the most part, products of the hippie movement.

    Today, we are surrounded by a lack of respect for just about everything, even though many of us have tried our best to instill respect and responsibility in our children. No matter if the guidelines are weak or strong in the home, children are bombarded with counter ideas outside the home. Peer pressure today is probably much more influential than it was when we were youngsters. Of course, we have seen a major shift in attitudes, values and beliefs because of the influence of social media and media, in general.

    At present, our pendulum seems to be swung out full in one direction, and no one can predict when it will stabilize in the center once again and become fashionable to be respectful and assume responsibility for ourselves and our actions.

    I have no magic wand or pixie dust. Just stay strong on the front lines!

    Like

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