When in Finland, you can walk through the tall spruce, paint your fingertips pink with fresh picked blueberries and eat the earthy mushrooms that cover the forest floor at will. You can even set up a temporary camp, no matter who owns the land, but it is considered polite to ask. As long as you leave the land undamaged and keep a bit of distance from the family’s home you are allowed to enjoy this traditional Finnish concept. The Finns call this Jokamiehenoikeudet meaning everyman’s right.
George, Melissa, Sara and I traveled with our host families about an hour from Jalasjärvi to Käskyvuori. Kyösti Marttila, Melissa’s host father from the farm I also stayed a few days with, explained that a long time ago a battle happened on this mountain, giving it the name Käskyvuori meaning helmet mountain.Happy to have found a mountain in Finland, we packed picnic baskets with coffee, sausages, sandwiches and other treats for a hike to the pretty view from the rocky peak of this protected forest.
It was a busy time harvesting at the farm and we were lucky to have this Sunday afternoon in the forest. Everyone seemed to relax and enjoy this time with family and nature. We are told that in Finland people really live in the forest and this day was proving for that.
Everyman’s right allow the Finnish people this escape, to enjoy the great outdoors. In addition Finland has many wilderness, hiking and outdoor recreation areas, and 35 National Parks. Even their largest city Helsinki has large forested parks in the heart of the city. Finns enjoy the simplicity of spending some time in these beautiful places whether they are using everyman’s right, visiting a park or taking a sauna at their summer cottage.
A land owner must grant access for motor vehicle, open fire and hunting access but skiing, hiking, fishing, swimming, and boating are all free activities. This concept is interesting to me because in America we have quite a different view of private property. Nearly all the activities listed above require written permission from a landowner. We certainly value our recreation areas, and National, City and State parks in America but the free right to roam is a significantly different aspect of Finland’s culture.
Perhaps this has something to do with population, since the USA’s 314.6 million people completely shadows 5.3 million in Finland. Though, it is interesting how cautious we are about our private property when we are in fact a country of immigrants. Tough both countries share their love for the outdoors, Finland and America have different concepts of sharing land, providing natural space and claiming ground.