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Landscapes are formed by interaction between humans and nature, which makes them bearers of historical and cultural values. Landscapes are an integral part of people’s everyday lives and the wellbeing of people and other species. The most important regulations promoting landscape protection, management and planning are included in the Nature Conservation Act and the Land Use and Building Act.
Aerial view with coastline and forest.
Winter landscape from Mynämäki © Jussi Kirjasniemi, Lentokuva Vallas Oy

Nationally Valuable Landscape Areas

There are 186 areas in Finland that have been classified as nationally valuable. These are Finland's 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 Landscape Areas (VAMA) is based on the Land Use and Building Act.

Landscape management areas

Areas can be designated as landscape management areas under Finland’s Nature Conservation Act. The aim of landscape management 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.

Traditional biotopes

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 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.

Traditional rural biotopes are ecologically unique, and their disappearance threatens the natural habitats of a wide range of flora and fauna. 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 sites of national significance

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 significant cultural historical environments. The inventory of built cultural environments is based on the Land Use and Building Act.

National Urban Parks

National Urban Parks (NUPs) 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 1992, 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 landscape were also included.

The Council of Europe Landscape Convention promotes the protection, management and planning of the landscapes

As the first international treaty devoted exclusively to the landscape, the Council of Europe Landscape Convention (ETS No. 176) promotes the protection, management and planning of the landscapes and organises international co-operation on landscape issues. Finland joined the Convention in 2006.

In the Landscape Convention, the landscape is understood holistically. According to it, landscape means "an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors". The Convention applies to the entire territory and covers natural, rural, urban and peri-urban areas. It includes land, inland water and marine areas.

Finland actively participates in the international cooperation of the Landscape Convention. Part of the cooperation is, for example, celebrating Landscape Day every year on October 20 and participating in the pursuit of the Landscape Award of the Council of Europe. The Landscape Award is an international recognition of measures that promote landscape protection, management or planning. The award is given every two years. In order to apply for the award, the best landscape project in Finland competition is organised, which serves as the domestic selection procedure for the Landscape Award.

The Landscape Convention encourages to establish and implement landscape policies. In the Convention landscape policy means "general principles, strategies and guidelines prepared by the competent public authorities that permit the taking of specific measures aimed at the protection, management and planning of landscapes". The goal of the Ministry of the Environment is to start preparing the national landscape policy program in 2023.

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Built environment
Built environment
The Council of Europe Landscape Convention
The Council of Europe


Finnish Environment Institute (Syke)