Finnish people love and value forests, but also benefit from them – sustainably

Children picking bilberries in the forest

Photo: Katri Lehtola


With more than 70% of its area covered by trees, Finland is Europe’s most forested country. This has always formed the basis of the Finnish way of life. Finland’s rise to prosperity is based on expertise in using renewable natural resources sustainably. Every Finn truly has an individual connection to forests; more than 80% of Finnish people say the forest is important to them.

Finns feel safe in the forest. They go there to relax and to feel a connection with nature. A desire to preserve nature also figures strongly in Finnish people’s relationship to the forest. They associate the woods with serenity, energy, joy, security, closeness and togetherness.

Forests belong to everyone. The Finnish concept of Everyman’s Right means that anybody may hike, camp, and gather mushrooms and berries in any forest, regardless of who owns it. Two-thirds of Finnish forests are owned by ordinary families. This means one in five Finnish citizens owns forest land, accounting for over 80% of the wood used by the forest industry.

Finland is a world leader in sustainable forest management. Commercial forestry must take into account forest biodiversity and carbon sinks. There’s a policy of planting three seedlings for every tree harvested, and logging never exceeds forest growth. Around 12% (2.7 million hectares) of Finnish forest is protected. The voluntary METSO forest biodiversity program compensates private forest owners for conservation measures.

Finns love and value forests, but also benefit from them – sustainably.