Finland has 12 Wilderness Areas, all of which were established in 1991 by Metsähallitus to conserve their rugged wild nature, to preserve indigenous Sámi culture and livliehoods, and to develop the diverse use of nature and its potential. All 12 Wilderness Areas are located in northernmost Lapland in accordance with the Wilderness Act, and cover a total of almost 15,000 square kilometres.
Although these areas are not actual protected areas, they do belong to Finland's Natura 2000* network, and the building of roads and all mining activity are forbidden unless the Finnish government grants permission. In some of the Wilderness Areas logging is forbidden, whereas others limited forestry is permitted.
These 12 Wilderness Areas provide a challenging environment for even the most experienced of hikers. There are no permanent roads in these areas, few have open wilderness huts or marked trails, so it is essential to have good orienteering and survival skills, and to be properly equipped, before embarking on an excursion. In the past, these vast unsettled regions have been traditional hunting and fishing areas, and today the Wilderness Areas of Enontekiö, Inari, and Utsjoki continue to be Sámi homelands where they practice reindeer husbandry as well as provide a range of services for those tourists hardy enough to visit.
The following is a list of all 12 of Finland's Wilderness Areas, simply click on the name to get more detailed information.
*Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of EU nature & biodiversity policy. It is an EUwide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive. The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.