The network of protected areas in Finland covers the whole country. The aim of protected areas is to secure the natural features, conserve natural diversity and protect national landscapes, as well as cultural heritage, recreational and hiking areas in the area. Most of the protected areas are included in the Natura 2000 ecological network.
Trees felled by a winterstorm in Laajalahti nature conservation area in Espoo. © Riku Lumiaro.
The Nature Conservation Act regulates the use of nature conservation areas. A special plan shall be drafted for the management and use of a national park as referred to in the Nature Conservation Act. As necessary, a management plan may also be drafted for a strict nature reserve or other nature reserves.
The authority in charge of the protected area is responsible for preparing the management and use plan. In case of state-owned land, the authority is Metsähallitus. The users of the area are heard while the plan is in preparation. The management and use plan for a national park must be ratified by the Ministry of the Environment. The management and use of privately-owned protected areas is planned through cooperation between the landowner, an ELY Centre and Metsähallitus.