The Scandinavian right to roam

Svenja
May 15, 2019 3:51:48 PM

Camping in the middle of Scandinavian nature, picking berries and mushrooms, hiking off the beaten track - the Scandinavian right to roam makes it possible. This applies in the Nordic countries (except Denmark) as well as Scotland and Switzerland. 

It is a customary right that grants certain rights in the wilderness. This is particularly convenient for holidaymakers, as the freedom to roam applies not only to locals but also to tourists.

In the countries concerned, rights and obligations differ in nuances. We would like to give an overview of these small differences here:

Rights and obligations

The general rule is: "Do not disturb and do not destroy":

  • Always take your waste with you
  • Respect the privacy of fellow human beings at all time
  • Do not injure or disturb animals
  • Do not fell, damage or remove plants or trees

Camping_Jedermannsrecht

In addition, the right to roam refers to the following aspects:

Camping

In Norway, Sweden and Finland it is permitted to camp for a few days in the middle of nature. For a longer stay, this must be discussed with the landowner.

There are additional restrictions in Norway: Camping is limited to 2 days, in addition a distance of at least 150 meters to the next house must be kept. You are not allowed to camp on cultivated fields and rest areas.

Car, Motorhome, Motorcycle

The right to roam does not apply to motorised vehicles, so it is not permitted to drive on uncultivated terrain without the permission of the landowner. However, it is permitted to spend the night in a motorhome on the edge of public roads. It is also permitted to park a car or motorcycle in a car park and camp on a meadow.

Hiking, cycling, horse riding, skiing

Everyone can move freely in nature - on foot, on skis or by bicycle. No permission from the landowner is required. Particularly when riding or cycling, the conditions of the ground must be taken into account so that it is not damaged.

Swimming, boating and canoeing

The right to roam also applies on and in the water. You are allowed to swim on the shores, canoe or boat almost everywhere and to moor. However, you should be careful not to go ashore at a property or in an area where there is a special access ban. 

Beeren_Jedermannsrecht_Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Berries, mushrooms, picking flowers

In general, berries, mushrooms and wild flowers may be collected and picked. Protected plants, on the other hand, are not allowed. In Sweden, for example, this applies to all types of orchids, in Finland to the Nordic monkshood. Cloudberries are also subject to special regulations in the three countries, depending on the region. It is best to enquire locally.

Starting fire

In Norway, open fires in or near wooded areas are prohibited from 15th April to 15th September. If it is extremely dry, grills or camping stoves are not allowed. Non-hazardous areas - for example by the sea - are excluded from the ban.

In Finland, no open fire may be made on foreign soil, but gas cookers may be used. Fire warnings must also be observed at official campfire sites, especially in dry summers.

In Sweden, open fires are allowed, but only if there is no risk of fire. In dry weather, open fires are prohibited.

Fishing and hunting

Fishing and hunting are not included in the right to roam, so you should always inquire on the spot for safety reasons. In many areas you need a fishing permit, also hunting requires a permit.

More information about the right to roam in the individual countries: 

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