Landscapes are an integral part of people’s everyday lives and the wellbeing of people and other species. Landscapes are formed by interaction between humans and nature, which makes them bearers of historical and cultural values. The most important regulations promoting landscape protection are included in the Nature Conservation Act and the Land Use and Building Act.

Rural landscape in south-west Finland. © Riku Lumiaro.

Nationally valuable landscapes

There are 186 areas in Finland that have been classified as nationally valuable landscapes. These are our countryside’s most typical cultural landscapes, whose value is based on their diverse, culturally-shaped nature, managed agricultural landscape and traditional architecture. In addition, the areas comprise other landscape types, such as sites that represent the archipelago and Sámi lifestyles as well as historically significant landscape attractions. The identification of nationally valuable landscapes (VAMA 2021) is based on the Government Decision of 18 November 2021.

Landscape conservation areas

Areas can be designated as landscape conservation areas under Finland’s Nature Conservation Act. The aim of landscape conservation areas is to cherish natural and cultural landscapes and the historical features particular to the region. The areas are founded in close cooperation with local actors, such as village associations and municipalities.

Built heritage and cultural environment

The Ministry of the Environment has surveyed cultural landscapes that have been shaped by the traditional ways of using land. Often, these areas have ecological significance as well, as they function as biotopes. Traditional rural biotopes are ecologically unique, and their disappearance threatens the natural habitats of a wide range of flora and fauna.

Traditional biotopes are culturally affected areas of nature, such as various types of meadowland, moorland and wooded pastures. For the most part, they have been formed by mowing and grazing. The overall area covered by traditional biotopes has declined rapidly due to drastic changes in farming practices and new production methods. Traditional rural biotopes are protected by landscape conservation projects and supportive actions aimed at cherishing traditional agricultural landscapes.

Built cultural heritage includes historical buildings, early industrial and transportation structures, landscapes affected by gardening and archaeological remains.

The updated inventory of built cultural landscapes in Finland was completed in 2009, when the National Board of Antiquities designated over 1,400 areas as nationally important cultural historical environments. The inventory of built cultural environments is based on the Land Use and Building Act.

National urban parks can be designated under the Land Use and Building Act. In the parks, valuable cultural environments and urban nature become part of the daily lives and recreation of people, following the principles of sustainable urban planning. National urban parks include nationally important areas, but also areas with more ordinary public images. Propositions to designate areas as urban parks are made by cities or municipalities, and the designation decisions are made by the Ministry of the Environment.

National landscapes

In 1994, the Ministry of the Environment celebrated Finland’s 75 years of independence by selecting 27 National Landscapes. The selected landscapes are culturally and historically important and they represent the history of Finnish livelihoods and the particular features of the regions. Landscapes that have left their mark on Finnish identity and the image of Finnish nature were also included.

Published 2013-11-11 at 9:24, updated 2022-12-22 at 13:36