1. Respect nature - leave no trace in it. Keep your pets on a leash.
When your pet is running loose, it will follow its instincts and may harm wild animals hiding in the vegetation. In spring and early summer, flightless young birds are also at risk.
Check list for hiking with your dog.
Be responsible when hiking and camping with a pet. Never let your pets roam free and chase or disturb wildlife or fragile plant life. Even if your pet responds well to voice commands, keep in mind that dogs (and cats) are predators by nature and will instinctively chase birds and wild animals. This can cause a lot of damage and disturbance especially during the nesting season in spring. Also make sure your pet does not disturb other visitors.
Some nature trails or other sites might have restrictions on hiking with a pet. Make sure to check local regulations before venturing with a pet. Remember some trails can be very steep, rocky, wet, or slippery. Some trails may require wading across rivers or streams, walking on duckboards, or climbing staircases. Sometimes these staircases are made of steel with open steel grating on the steps. Trails may be very challenging or impossible for some pets.
Each open wilderness hut, reservable hut, rental hut, or day trip hut has its own rules concerning pets. Check if pets are allowed to enter the hut by reading the rules on the hut’s online homepage. Always consider the needs of other hut users. Pet owners are solely responsible for their pet’s behaviour.
Dogs must always be kept on a leash in national parks and other nature conservation areas. Even a well-behaved dog must be kept on a leash to set a good example if nothing else. National parks are protected areas where plants and animals must be left alone. Allowing your dog to run free in a national park is prohibited by the law at all times of the year. This can cause damage to young birds and other animals simply by scaring them.
In reindeer herding areas, dogs may get excited by the reindeer, which can exhaust weak calves even when the dog just wants to have a bit of fun. The barking of a dog can also hamper reindeer husbandry work by frightening the reindeer and causing them to run in the wrong direction.
Let your dog fetch sticks and dig holes before you enter the national park. Digging holes and pulling twigs and branches off dead trees is forbidden in national parks and other nature reserves – and this also applies to dogs. For example, dead trees provide a home for many threatened insects.
Do not disturb other hikers. Not everyone likes dogs and some people may be afraid of them.
Please pick up your dog’s waste and keep the trails clean. When out and about, you can use a branch to sweep dog poo into the forest. In yard areas you must collect it in a bag and put it in a mixed waste bin. Do not leave dog waste bags on tracks or paths.
Check to find out if dogs are allowed in the huts. The pet rules for open wilderness, rental and reservable huts vary by region. (You can find the hut-specific rules on the website for each hut). People accompanied by guide or assistance dogs have a statutory right to access all locations. This also applies to Metsähallitus huts, visitor centres and restaurants.
As a general rule, dogs must be kept on a leash everywhere except in your own yard and in dog parks. Find out more about the regulations in the Public Order Act (finlex.fi) and Hunting Act (finlex.fi).
Observe animals and their young from a sufficient distance.
Dog sledding in the wilderness
Sled rides with a team of huskies have become a popular tourism service and hobby in Lapland. However, when you are out and about in the wild with a dog team, you need to show even more consideration for other hikers and the environment than when going out with a single dog.
Under everyman's rights, you are free to go sledding anywhere except in nature conservation areas, where the regulations often restrict dog sledding and allow it on certain trails only. Entrepreneurs who take tourists dog sledding must agree with the landowner on the routes they use, and for business activities on Metsähallitus' land, an agreement on rights of use is always required. Nature tourism in wilderness areas is guided by management plans.
Important in the reindeer herding area
Dog sledding is permitted in the wilderness areas of Lapland, but special care should be taken in the reindeer herding area. The reindeer must not be disturbed. When reindeer come across the smell and barking of dogs, they think of them as predators, and reindeer herders can incur significant amounts of additional work and costs from inconsiderate dog sledding. You must never under any circumstances stop the dog team near reindeer, not even for the purpose of taking photographs. Especially in late winter, such disturbance may cause substantial harm and result in claims for compensation. Always remember to close gates in reindeer fences after you.
Overnight stays in huts
Show consideration for other visitors especially when staying overnight in huts. Huskies must not be brought inside open wilderness huts, or reservable and rental huts. Sledding equipment may also not be kept in the huts or the adjoining sheds. The dishes provided in the hut may not be used to feed the dogs.
When you sleep in a hut, the dogs must be tied up at a sufficient distance, or approximately 50 m from the hut, ensuring that they do disturb other overnight visitors. To prevent the pollution of drinking water, make sure that the dogs are not tied up on ice. You must pick up the dog waste in the terrain and dispose of it in compliance with the waste management instructions. If the hut has a dog park, the waste should be placed in the bin intended for this purpose. Do not put any other waste in this bin. Straw used as bedding for the dogs must not be left outside the hut.
Crossing the state border with dogs
Such trails as Kalottireitti in Lapland cross state borders. If you have dogs, you must remember that you may only cross the state border with a dog team if each dog meets the requirements of export regulations. See the website of the Finnish Food authority (ruokavirasto.fi) for all import and export regulations. If you are crossing the border to Sweden, you must report the dog to the Swedish Customs (tullverket.se).
National parks and other nature reserves are primarily established to conserve nature. We should thus always respect nature when out and about. Animals often need privacy and space in the breeding season in particular. Show consideration also for plants. Plants being trampled by photographers is a problem in many places. While collecting plants is not permitted in protected areas, you may pick berries and mushrooms.
If you leave marked trails, be careful not to trample on vulnerable vegetation. Take photographs responsibly. Do not harm nature in order to get better pictures. Stay at a respectful distance from animals and their nests. If you intentionally damage protected animals or plants, you risk the penalty laid down in the law. Do not feed animals.
Behave responsibly on social media and on the Web. Make sure that the GPS trails and social media content you share comply with the rules of protected areas.
You can save GPS trails for your personal use, but if you publish them on track services (including Gpsies.com or Strava), make sure they remain on permitted routes. Official trails can always be found on the Nationalparks.fi service.
Think about what you publish on the social media. Use your magnificent nature photos to encourage others to follow the Outdoor etiquette. A picture of a dog running loose in a national park, for example, gives other hikers a wrong impression of what is permitted in the national parks.
Content is King – be responsible on social media and online. Make sure that your shared GPS tracks and social media content comply with the rules of the protected area. GPS tracks can be saved for your own use, but if you publish them on route services (such as gpsies.com or Strava), make sure that the tracks remain on the applicable routes. The actual routes are always available from Nationalparks.fi. Think about what you publish on social media. Use your beautiful nature photos to help and encourage others to appreciate and respect Finland’s wonderful nature destinations.
Flying drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)
When flying drones in nature reserve areas, always take the following into consideration: Flying drones is prohibited in restricted areas as well as key bird nesting areas (such as islands, skerries and sea bays, where bird populations nest) and key rest stops. Because disturbing vertebrates in nature reserve areas is prohibited, the flying of drones may also be prohibited in other areas, usually on a discretionary, case-by-case basis.
National parks and other nature reserve areas are also important recreational areas for humans, who seek the peace and tranquility of nature, among other things. In these types of areas, flying drones is not generally advisable and may even be prohibited due to the disturbance they cause to other visitors.
If a drone is being used to record images or for professional purposes, it is subject to other restrictions in addition to those mentioned above. The above-mentioned information also applies to other unmanned aerial vehicles (RC model aircraft, etc.). Aircraft operators are responsible for learning about regional restrictions and regulations, which can be found at, for example, droneinfo.fi.
Building rock piles is harmful to nature and disrespectful of cultural values.The rock piles built by tourists on the fells of Lapland, for instance, damage the natural soil patterns created by frost and change the natural landscape. This activity is also a threat to ancient monuments.
2. Mainly use marked trails and follow the rules for different modes of travel. Check the areas and times in which access is possibly restricted at your destination.
Use signposted trails to avoid wear and tear on the terrain. Large numbers of visitors may cause erosion.
Check to see if there are any restrictions on movement or landing in a certain area at a certain time period. The restrictions are listed on a destination’s Instructions and rules page. For example, access to many marshes, islands and shores is restricted during birds’ nesting season.
Show consideration for others enjoying nature, as the natural environment belongs to us all. Comply with the rules for different modes of travel. For example, mountain biking is not permitted everywhere. Trails suitable for biking are often listed separately on the destination's Trails page.
When kayaking, stay at least 50 metres away from private shore areas. Never use private docks for your rest stops.
3. Camp only where it is allowed. Do not wash the dishes or yourself directly in a water body. Follow the rules of wilderness huts.
Find out if camping is permitted at your destination. In nature reserves, including national parks, camping is usually only permitted in designated camping areas. Check the destination's Instructions and rules page to see if camping is permitted. If you are planning to stay in a wilderness hut, familiarise yourself with the Rules for Using Wilderness Huts. Be considerate towards other hikers and those staying in the hut overnight. They may be tired after their day's hike and wish to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
Do not wash up or wash yourself directly in a lake or a river or on top of a well. Pour your washing water into the ground at a sufficient distance from the water body. The water at a busy rest stop can easily become contaminated by coliform bacteria if dirty water is allowed to run directly into a water body or a well. It would be a good idea for large groups to check if their destination has a camp site that can be booked for their private use.
Large groups should inform the destination's customer service point of their arrival. Submit an event notification. Notification of an organized event in protected areas governed by Metsähallitus (metsa.fi).
Top Five Camp RulesCamp in authorized locations Follow hut rules Wash up dirty dishes and bathe away from sources of drinking water Do not pour dishwater into rivers or lakes Respect other hikers Shelters and day trip huts: Many outdoor recreation areas in Finland have cooking shelters and day trip huts which are primarily meant for day use only.
Thanks to the “Everyman’s Rights” law in Finland everyone has the freedom to roam and camp overnight anywhere in the country. It is not permitted however to go near private residences or onto cultivated land and nursery plantations, and it’s strictly prohibited to damage or disturb the natural environment and wildlife in any way.
In the national parks and some of the other protected areas there are designated camping sites and in general camping is not allowed elsewhere in protected areas. The campsites are free to use and include picnic tables, campfire rings, dry toilets, and well-stocked woodsheds. Campfires are possible as long as there are no grass or forest fire warnings in effect. Be sure to check at visitor centres or Nationalparks.fi before starting a campfire and always use caution with fire. It’s a great idea to carry a portable camp stove with you.
A fresh water source, river or lake, is usually nearby the campsite, and while Finland has some of the purest water in the world, it’s recommended to treat, filter, or boil drinking water especially in heavy-use areas. Always follow the “leave no trace” outdoor mottos “carry in, carry out” and “take only pictures, leave only footprints”.
Please, do not wash your hands or dishes in wilderness huts' drinking water buckets or water intakes. Also, please do not fill your drinking bottle right above a drinking water bucket.
Other options: There are different kinds of wilderness huts in Finland, ones that are open for anyone to use for one night for free, and reservable ones which are locked and require a small reservation fee. There is also a constantly growing list of private cottages, farmhouses, holiday villages, and wilderness guides that offer services, safaris, and accommodation nearby national parks and wilderness areas. They can vary from rustic, simple, and reasonably priced to luxurious, plush, and more expensive. It’s possible to venture into the wilderness and choose the level of comfort you desire.
4. Light your campfire only where it is allowed and use a camping stove where possible. Do not light a fire when a forest or grass fire warning is in effect.
You always need the landowner's permission to light a fire, as building campfires is not part of Everyman’s Rights. You should use a camping stove as the first preference. A camping stove may also be used when a forest or grass fire is in effect. However, using wood burning camping stoves, a.k.a. hobo stoves may not be used when a grass or forest fire warning is in effect as the sparks flying from them are a fire risk.
If you do light a fire, only use a designated and serviced campfire site. In nature reserves, including the national parks, lighting a fire is permitted on designated and serviced campfire sites. Lighting fires is prohibited in areas with restricted access.
By decision of Metsähallitus, having campfires in the forest is generally permitted on state-owned land in Lapland, North Ostrobothnia, Kainuu and North Karelia. You can use dry branches, twigs and small root stocks to build a fire. A serviced campfire site must be used if one can be found within a half-kilometre radius. In nature conservation areas that have a plan for management and use or where an ordinance has been issued, the contents of these plans and rules shall be observed in the making of fire. In most national parks, for example, campfires are allowed only on maintained campfire sites. Excursionmap.fi is a free-to-use map service offered by Metsähallitus, where you can see the wide range of sites and services available on state-owned land. You can use this service to look up different types of areas, such as multi-use forests or nature conservation and hiking areas, and see all the facilities available for hikers.
Check the Instructions and Rules page on the Nationalparks.fi service to see if there are any special rules and instructions about making campfires or other restrictions.
Do not pull bark or cut sticks off live trees for cooking your sausages. Use the firewood on the campfire site sparingly. Always check if a grass or forest fire warning is in effect in the area. When there is a grass or forest fire warning, lighting campfires is also prohibited on most designated and serviced campfire sites. If a grass or forest fire warning is in effect, lighting fires is only allowed on campfire sites with roofs and flues as well as in the fireplaces of huts. Even so, special care must be taken. The person starting the fire is always responsible for its safety. Please note that lighting fires may be prohibited in certain locations. Do not use disposable barbecues. They are bad for the environment and may not be used when a grass or forest fire warning is in operation.
5. Do not litter.
Litter-free hikingDo not litter: take your rubbish back to an appropriate waste disposal point. A small amount of food waste may be disposed of in a composter or dry toilet, but not in other types of toilets, which may become blocked. Small amounts of clean paper and cardboard can be burned in a campfire or a fireplace in an open wilderness hut. Always carry a small bag in which you can collect rubbish left behind by other hikers.
Leave no traceThe wonders of nature are fragile and precious and while enjoying the great outdoors make sure they are preserved for future generations by taking the utmost care to have as little negative impact as possible. Consider the following:
Take only pictures, leave only footprints – after choosing your destination use public transport or car pool if possible. Take only what you need and avoid disposable products.
Pack it in, pack it out – avoid troublesome waste collection and remember many of the back country campsites don’t have waste collection bins. Be prepared to carry out everything that you have carried in. Combustible waste, small amounts of clean paper and cardboard, can be burned in campfires as long as no grass or forest fire warnings are in effect. Never burn other kinds of waste such as packaging that contains aluminium foil or plastic on a campfire since it may leave a non-biodegradable residue or emit toxic fumes. These must be packed out and disposed of properly. Campfires may only be lit with the landowner's permission or in the designated public campfire sites and cooking shelters. Carry a portable camp stove with you.
Be one with nature – if no toilet facilities are available, dig a hole well away from any water sources, trails or campsites. Carefully cover the hole with loose soil and vegetation when you have finished. Use toilet paper sparingly.
On the beaten path – help prevent erosion and damage to fragile plants by staying on marked trails. Do not cut across switchbacks on hillside trails. This can cause severe erosion and damage to trails and hillsides.
Outside is the new inside – in national parks camp in designated or established campsites. Avoid damaging trees and plants when pitching tents or hanging hammocks.
Be green and clean – wash dishes and bodies away from water sources and use sparingly only biodegradable soaps. Dump dishwater on land to help prevent water pollution.
Nature is the best designer – do not make stone piles or stack rocks. They disturb nature and detract from the natural beauty of the great outdoors. But do not dismantle existing cairns. Some may be thousands of years old and of historical significance. Do not carve, paint, or draw on trees, rocks, signs, or structures, but do not deface or disturb ancient rock paintings.
How many years does waste take to degrade?
Cigarette butt over 10
Plastic bag 100, plastic bottle up to 1,000
Pea soup can 200-500
Drink can made of aluminium 200-1000
In practice, glass will last forever
A cardboard cup and milk carton 1-5
A paper handkerchief 1-2
Chewing gum 20-25
Bag clips hundreds of years
TravelYour local hiking destinations should be your first choice. Walking, cycling or rowing do not cause emissions. Use public transport whenever possible. Try car-pooling. Travel further away less often but stay there for longer.
Besides an excellent and well-maintained road network, Finland also has good train and bus services. Ticket prices are affordable. Air travel is the easiest and quickest way to get to Lapland. For the carbon-conscious visitor, however, we recommend using trains and buses instead. The state-owned railway company VR offers overnight trains between Lapland and southern Finland where you can reserve a sleeping compartment for 1-3 people.
In order to protect Finnish nature and encourage exploring on foot, there are very few roads which allow cars inside the national parks or other nature preserves. There are, however, many free parking areas at the entrances and trailheads of all the national parks.
If you do not have access to a car or wish to lessen your carbon footprint and leave your car at home, most of the national parks in all of Finland are accessible by public transport. In the more remote areas buses can be infrequent or can change schedules depending on the season. Be sure to check the Directions and Maps sections under Destinations at nationalparks.fi for tips and links on public transportation.
Using a local taxi is also a good option and often cheaper than hiring a car for shuttling between the ending and starting points of a multi-day hike, or to get to and from the nearest bus stop or train station.
Compensating for air travel emissionsNature tourism is a good way to promote nature conservation, because the economic benefits provided by tourism encourages the preservation of natural values in tourist destinations. However, travelling to a nature destination still produces carbon dioxide emissions, with air travel being the biggest culprit.
Switching from air travel to another mode of transport is one of the more effective ways to reduce one's personal carbon footprint. If, however, you decide to travel by air or there are no other options, you can explore the alternatives offered by carbon emissions compensation.
Calculating and receiving a compensation payment for your flight can easily be done on, for example, the myclimate.org website. On the website, you can also select the recipient of your compensation payment.
Metsahalitu: Principles of Sustainable Tourism