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Protected areas, restoration and nature management

Nature conservation areas help secure diversity of Finland's species and habitats. However, these alone cannot adequately secure the preservation of natural diversity; also needed are diverse nature management, for example, in commercial forests, traditional habitats, and in the built environment. National parks and nature parks as well as the Natura 2000 areas are the framework the network of nature conservation areas. Nature conservation areas also serve to preserve the national landscape, cultural heritage, as well as areas for recreation and hiking and camping.
Northern taiga forest.
The Oulanka National Park in Kuusamo is one of Finland's most popular nature destinations. © Riku Lumiaro

National parks and nature parks

Finland has 41 national parks, the most recent of which, the Salla National Park, was founded in 2022. National parks are extensive nature reserves with the important task of securing natural diversity and giving people the possibility to enjoy nature and use it for relaxation.

However, Finland's 19 nature reserves are mostly closed to the public. They primarily serve nature protection and research, as well as education within the limits allowed by protection. Moving around in a nature reserve requires written permission, which is granted exclusively for scientific purposes.

Natura 2000 network

The 1866 areas of Finland's Natura 2000 network cover five million hectares of land and water areas. The European Union wants to stop the deterioration of natural diversity in its area. One of the most important ways to reach the goal is the Natura 2000 network. The network secures the biotopes and the habitats of species as set in the nature directive. There are about 200 such biotopes in Europe, and about 700 species.

National and regional Natura information
Natura 2000 areas secure natural diversity in Europe

Wilderness areas

Twelve wilderness areas have been established in Northern Finland. Their goal is to preserve the wilderness character of the areas, to secure the continuity of Sami culture and traditional livelihoods, and to develop the diverse use of nature.

View from an island in Lake Inari.
The northern archipelago of Lake Inari is part of Vätsäri wilderness area.  © Riku Lumiaro

Nature conservation on private land

Landowners may sell their land areas to the state for the going price or preserve it as a private nature reserve in return for compensation. In both cases the possibilities for recreational use of the area remain mostly unchanged. There are nearly 7800 nature reserves located on private land.

Landscape management areas

Landscape management areas are used for protecting natural or cultural landscapes and the specific historical features of the areas. Landscape management areas are established in close cooperation with local actors, such as village organisations and municipalities

Ramsar sites

Finland has a total of 49 Ramsar sites. As well as possible, they represent our country's various wetlands, bird lakes, marine bays, and archipelago areas that are important for waterfowl. The Ramsar Convention protects wetlands, which are some of the most threatened habitats in the world. 

Shore meadow in Laajalahti.
The managed shoreline meadow and the reed area in Laajalahti in Espoo is part of Finland's Ramsar Network. © Riku Lumiaro

Natural monuments

Natural monuments are protected natural formations. Trees, groups of trees, a glacial erratic boulder, and other natural formations can be declared protected natural monuments. Natural formations may be protected for their beauty, rarity, landscape significance, or their scientific value.

National urban parks

The goal of national urban parks is to preserve urban nature and the built cultural environment as an extensive and intact whole. National urban parks are part of sustainable urban planning and construction. Finland has 10 national urban parks.

Biosphere sites

Biosphere sites are model areas for sustainable development, combining the protection of diversity of the natural environment with the sustainable use of natural values and environmental research. The biosphere sites of North Karelia and the Archipelago Sea are in Finland.

Utön ulkosaaristoa
The biosphere site of the Archipelago Sea also includes villages and harbours in the area. © Riku Lumiaro

Restoration and Habitats Management

The significance of restoration and habitats management in preserving natural diversity has grown in recent decades. The focal point of the work is gradually moving from protected areas to commercial forests, agricultural environments, or urban and built-up areas.


Finnish Environment Institute (Syke)