The traditional Finnish legal concept of everyman's right allows free right of access to the land and waterways, and the right to collect natural products such as wild berries and mushrooms, no matter who owns the land. These rights also generally apply to foreign citizens, with certain exceptions related to local boating, fishing and hunting rights.
Campsites and outdoors recreation areas are often
equipped with special campfire-sites. © Eira Kuikka
Everyman's right means that access to the land is free of charge, and does not require the landowner's permission. People taking advantage of these rights are nevertheless obliged not to cause any damage or disturbance. Everyman's right consists of a set of generally accepted traditions that have also been enshrined in various laws and regulations.
Within the EU, such rights are most widely applied in the Nordic Countries, where the right to roam and pick berries and mushrooms is an important part of local cultures. In other countries such rights vary considerably, and are typically much more limited - partly because these countries are more densely populated and have fewer forests, but also because of their different land-ownership traditions.
Everyman's right in brief
- walk, ski or cycle freely in the countryside, except in gardens, in the immediate vicinity of people’s homes, and in fields and plantations which could easily be damaged
- stay or set up camp temporarily in the countryside, a reasonable distance from homes
- pick wild berries, mushrooms and flowers, as long as they are not protected species
- fish with a rod and line
- row, sail or use a motorboat on waterways, with certain restrictions; swim or wash in inland waters and the sea
- walk, ski and fish on frozen lakes, rivers and the sea
You may not:
- disturb other people or damage property
- disturb breeding birds, or their nests or young
- disturb reindeer or game animals
- cut down or damage living trees, or collect wood, moss or lichen on other people’s property
- light open fires on other people’s property, except in an emergency
- disturb the privacy of people’s homes, by camping too near them, or making too much noise, for example
- leave litter
- drive motor vehicles off road without the landowner’s permission
- fish or hunt without the relevant permits
Everyman's right is working well
According to a study, landowners, hikers and authorities agree that everyman's right is working well. Everyman's right is considered extremely important in Finland and not many problems are related to its use. Retaining the right as it is is seen as important. The survey was conducted in October/November 2006 (for more information, see link on the right).
Everyman's right in other languages
Below are brochures of everyman's right in Finland in English, German, French and Russian.