Right of public access
The right of public access is a fantastic opportunity for all of us to roam freely in nature. Just make sure to remember that with freedom comes responsibility, so please respect nature and your fellow explorers. You can sum it up with the phrase: Do not disturb – do not destroy. With help from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s guide you will find guidelines below on what to apply when staying in Swedish nature.
Hike, bike, ride
We have a wonderful opportunity to experience nature and pursue many different activities. Swedes are extremely interested in outdoor life and nature. So that everyone can enjoy nature, it is good to keep some things in mind:
• Remember that crops, replanted forest or other vulnerable land should not be damaged.
• To avoid disturbing those who live in the area, do not cross over or occupy someone’s lot. Residents have a right to be undisturbed.
• Do not interfere with the activities of landowners.
• When you ride or cycle in terrain, there is a risk of damaging the ground. Do not ride or cycle over soft, fragile ground or on designated jogging tracks, ski tracks or hiking trails.
• If you cross enclosed pastureland, do not disturb animals or damage fences. Close the gate after you so that livestock does not get out.
By all means pitch a tent for a night or two in the countryside. Remember to pitch it in a suitable place – in other words, where farming is not carried on and not too close to a residence. Indeed, the greater the risk of disturbing someone, all the greater reason there is to ask for permission. Consideration is especially important when camping with caravans and motor homes outside designated areas. Such camping is governed by off-road vehicle use laws.
We all want clean nature, free of litter, so take garbage with you. Glass, tins, plastic bags and bottle caps can injure both people and animals. Therefore, never place a garbage bag next to a full dustbin.
The campfire adds spice to our outdoor life, and you are allowed to build a fire in nature. But fires cause concern among many landowners because much valuable forest goes up in flames every year due to carelessness with campfires. To minimise the risk of fire spreading, it is good to keep some things in mind:
• Do not start a fire if there is the least danger of it spreading – in dry weather the lighting of fires often is prohibited.
• Choose a place where there is no risk of the fire spreading.
• Do not build a fire directly on or right next to rocks. They can crack and cause wounds.
• When you are done with the fire, make sure that it is thoroughly extinguished.
• Leave no trace of the fire in the form of a fireplace or such.
Flowers, berries, mushrooms, twigs
You are free to pick flowers, berries, mushrooms, twigs and branches from the ground. To avoid damaging nature, it is good to keep some things in mind:
• Remember that certain plants are protected by law and they may not be picked. The County Administrative Board can provide information on protected plants. Orchids are protected throughout the country.
• Do not take twigs, branches, birch-bark and other bark from growing trees. They can be damaged.
Obviously dogs may accompany you in nature. March 1 to August 20 is a sensitive period for wildlife, and dogs are not allowed to run loose then. During other times of the year, you also must have your dog under sufficient control so that it does not disturb or damage wildlife and other people. In some parts of the country dog leash laws are in effect.
Swimming and boating
The right of public access applies both on land and water. You may swim by the shore, boat almost everywhere, moor your boat and spend a day or two on board. The same rules for consideration of your surroundings apply as on land. In other words, do not disturb – do not destroy. To be able to enjoy nature by and on the water, it is good to keep some things in mind:
• Do not moor your boat or go ashore by a dwelling or where there is no admittance, such as a sanctuary for protection of birds and seals.
• It is okay to moor a boat temporarily at someone else’s jetty if it does not interfere with the owner. But not if it adjoins the grounds of a house, of course. It is preferable to contact the landowner.
• Special rules, such as speed limits and no admittance, may exist.
• Remember that motorboat operators need to be more considerate than quieter boaters.
Hunting and fishing
The right of public access does not cover hunting and fishing. But you are free to fish without a licence with a rod and certain other hand gear along the coasts and in Sweden’s five largest lakes: the Vänern, the Vättern, the Mälaren, the Hjälmaren and the Storsjön. Fishing in other waters requires a fishing licence or other permit. Along the Norrland coast, the west coast and Skåne’s southern coast certain other fishing methods are allowed without a licence. Otherwise fishing with nets, trolling or tip-up fishing is not permitted without a licence, nor is salmon fishing by the Norrland coast. So that everyone can enjoy nature and avoid damaging it, it is good to keep some things in mind:
• Remember to always take note of the rules that apply in the place you want to fish.
• Do not leave hooks and lines behind you in nature. They can be death traps for wildlife.
• Remember to leave wildlife’s young and nests or dens alone.
• You are not allowed to take bird eggs. That is considered hunting. All wild animals and birds are protected by law. Hunting may be carried on in accordance with hunting regulations. Species threatened with extinction, such as frogs and snakes, are protected.
For more information see Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
Information film about Right of public access by Visit Sweden and The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.