In both Sweden and Finland the right of public access (allemansrätten) guarantees that everyone who wishes to enjoy nature is also entitled to do so. The right of public access is an ancient customary law that is unique to our countries. If we exercise this right responsibly, future generations will also have the opportunity to enjoy nature in the forests, countryside, and archipelagos.
Although the right of public access is called a "right", it is also accompanied by obligations. Our behaviour in nature - or in this case, in the Kvarken archipelago - may not cause harm to any animals, plants or permanent residents.
The charm of the archipelago is largely found in its untouched beauty, its diverse nature with its rich bird life and the historic settings created by traditional archipelago settlements. It is crucial to preserve these values.
Below you can learn more about the respect that visitors to the Kvarken archipelago must show. When you visit nature reserves in Kvarken there are usually signs stating what you may and may not do. Regulations in the different areas sometimes differ and it is therefore important that visitors find out what applies to each island or point of land.
Respect wildlife! Remember that the birds live in the archipelago and that you are there as a guest. Do not drive too close to small outcroppings and islets or go ashore during the birds' breeding season (1 April - 31 July). Many birds may leave their nests permanently if frightened. Even if they only leave the nest for a while it gives predators the opportunity to raid the nest. Gull and tern colonies are also important breeding grounds for many seabirds and wading birds that take advantage of the white birds' effective warning system. Young birds left alone because the mother was frightened may die of heat or cold, or become easy prey for crows.
If you see a brood of young birds, drive around it, leaving a safe distance of at least one hundred metres. If the young birds begin to fly one or more may easily become separated from the mother and face almost certain death.
Keep your dog on a lead. Even if the dog does not hunt, it may frighten the young birds so that they become separated from their parents. Some crows have specialized in following people and taking what they want from nests where the mother bird has been frightened away. During breeding season, large forested islands are preferable destinations than small open islets with an abundance of birds.
Try to stay on the trails to avoid damaging the vegetation. Plants on cliffs, sand and gravel are particularly sensitive since they are often dry and easily crumble if trampled. The healthy vegetation in the forest, with blueberries and lingon berries, can better handle the wear and tear.
Camping in tents is allowed for a day or so on land that is not used for agriculture and that is not close to any houses. If you put up your tent close to a built-up area or stay for several days, it is best to ask the landowner for permission.
Be careful with fire. You need permission from the landowner to light an open fire. If a fire ban is in effect, it even applies to designated locations.
Visitors to the archipelago must behave not only on nature's terms, but also on the terms of the local residents. Show respect for residents; do not go ashore on other people's docks and do not walk across gardens or fields. Stay a safe distance to the shore when driving your boat. And remember that sheep may be grazing on some islands and islets.
We all want a clean sea. Any waste from your outing must be deposited in the appropriate containers on the mainland. Remember that any packaging you bring with you on the trip is much lighter on the way home, after you've eaten the food. Take it with you and throw it away at home.
Read more online:
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency website about the right of public access in Sweden: http://www.allemansratten.se/templates/firstPage.asp?id=2058 Here you will also find interesting information and helpful tips about camping, campfires, riding, canoeing, snowmobiling, hunting and fishing, and much more.
Read about protected animals, plants and nests in Sweden at http://www.naturvardsverket.se/dokument/natur/fridlyst/fridlyst.html (in Swedish)
The Environment Centre's page on the right of public access in Finland http://www.environment.fi/everymansright
Direct links to sites about hunting and fishing http://www.miljo.fi/default.asp?contentid=125950&lan=EN and http://www.miljo.fi/default.asp?contentid=115488&lan=EN
Traffic rules for snowmobile operators in Finland (in Swedish,): http://www.miljo.fi/default.asp?node=697&lan=sv
Sea buckthorn (history, species facts, picking) (in Swedish,): http://www.miljo.fi/default.asp?contentid=134898&lan=SV
Metsähallitus in Finland also has an extremely informative site where you can read about national parks, hiking areas and other information about outdoor activities: http://www.outdoors.fi
Nature Conservation Act in Finland (in Swedish): http://www.finlex.fi/sv/laki/ajantasa/1996/19961096