Finland covers a total area of 337,000 square kilometers and it is the ninth largest country in Europe. Almost 70% of the country is forested while 10% of the country is covered by water. The continental glacier has a predominant influence on the geography of Finland. Finland is one of the tourist destinations in the Nordic countries partly because of the continental glacier activities which have existed for centuries but also because of the numerous national parks in the country which are vast nature conservation areas. Finland has 38 national parks covering a total area of 8,873 square kilometers and is managed by the Metsähallitus.
History Of The National Parks In Finland
After years of long debates on the issues that were affecting flora and fauna of Finland, the complexity of the legal systems, and the need to conserve and manage the natural resources, the first national park was established in Finland in 1938. The first national parks were under the management of the Finnish Forest Research Institute. The debate about the need for national parks in the country was sparked by AE NordensKiold, an explorer, who suggested that protected areas needed to be created on government-owned land. Nature was seen as a national heritage besides being a source of raw material for economic growth. After World War II, there were only two national parks left in Finland; Pallas-Ounastunturi and Pyhatunturi and two nature reserves. Establishing new parks was therefore considered a task of national importance in the country. In 1956, seven more national parks were created and managed by the Metsahallitus. In 1982, eleven more national parks were established through the effort of the national parks committee. The committee had proposed 42 national parks across the country. However, to date, only 38 national parks have been created.
Need To Establish National Parks In Finland
The establishment of national parks and nature reserves in Finland was to preserve and protect its biodiversity which was threatened by irresponsible human activities such as the expansion of agricultural land, logging, hunting, and misuse of nature. It was also believed that the national parks would serve not only scientific and conservation purposes but also recreational needs. The need for a national park was aimed at protecting most of the country’s coniferous forest cover. Finland was and still is the Europe’s most forested country partly due to the efforts put in place by the Metsahallitus towards conserving the protected area. Some of the dominant plant species protected within the national parks include the Scots pine, birches, and the Norway spruce. The mammal species that have benefitted from the creation of national parks include Lynx, Wolverine, and bears among other species.
Tourist Activities In The National Parks Of Finland
Over 2 million tourists visit the Finnish parks annually because of the wide varieties offered by the parks. Fishing, site seeing, hiking, and picnics are some of the major activities carried out in the park. The management of the parks is by Metsahallitus who grants entry and permission for the various activities in the parks. However, there are some areas in some parks like the nesting area in Ekenas Archipelago where access is restricted. Archipelago and Lemmenjoki National Parks are some of the preferred destinations for tourists visiting the country because of the cultural mix and the beautiful scenery.