Nature and Finland go hand in hand. Everyone always thinks of Finland as this country full of forests and with a very low population density. And yet, I had never imagined so many forests, trees, bushes… green areas (well, brown-orange-yellow in autumn). I still remember the first time I thought “Whoa, that’s a lot of trees”. After arriving in Helsinki, I took the bus to Turku and halfway there I had that realisation. Allow me to paint the picture. It was more or less like this:
Trees, trees, trees, trees, cottage. Trees, trees, trees, trees, and more trees. A field. Trees. And more trees. And oh, I forgot to mention, trees. Another cottage. Trees.
Let me explain, I’m not complaining. Nothing is furthest from the truth. See, I come from the north of Spain, and we also have loads of trees and mountains (there are not that many of those in Finland). But here it’s… endless. And so far, I’m not tired of it, and it doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon. It’s just so full of life and colours.
And then you learn about the so called “everyman’s right” (Jokamiehenoikeudet in Finnish). By this right, any person can enjoy about 90 percent of Finland’s land for outdoor sports, camping, picking up berries and mushrooms and even fishing (with a rod and a line). All for free. The only requisite is that you follow some easy and common-sense rules.
You may think that since everyone can enjoy and roam the land, you will find waste and rubbish everywhere. I have yet to see some. After visiting Kurjenrahka National Park, I realised why. There, I saw families with small children with small cups for blueberries and mushrooms. I saw people camping and enjoying the environment (even though it was starting to get cold). I saw people leaving the path to let us pass. I saw Finns. Because that’s how Finnish people are. And that’s material for another post.
Text & photo: Pablo de Andrés