Rural landscapes and landscape management

The landscape we see is shaped by topography, soil and water conditions, climate, vegetation and human activities at different times, such as construction projects and the use of natural resources.

Finnish rural landscapes are characterised by relatively gentle slopes and abundant forests and water bodies. The country’s northern location, humid climate and soil all affect its vegetation and growing conditions.

Finland is also a very sparsely populated country, with most of the area covered by rural landscape. Built-up areas constitute less than 5 % of the country’s area. The majority of Finland is covered by conifer-dominated forests of different ages. The boundaries of Southern and Western Finland face the sea. Today, the large archipelagos are characterised by numerous holiday homes, fishing industry and small-scale farming. Inland waters, meaning lakes and rivers, account for some 10% of Finland’s land area. Arable land and other agricultural areas also cover some 10%. The largest coherent areas of farm land are located in river valleys and near water bodies.  Most towns and urban areas are also located by or near waters.

Finland’s northernmost region is called Lapland. Unlike the rest of the country, Lapland’s landscapes are characterised by fells.  In addition to forestry, other important industries in northern Finland include reindeer husbandry, agriculture (particularly in riverside areas) and large tourist centres operating in the winter season.

The rural landscape is a renewable resource, changing as a result of different production measures. In Finland, rural industries are founded on a diverse and sustainable use of natural resources. Without cultivation, arable fields would quickly become reforested. Forest management also promotes the growing of trees suited to the growing conditions. As a result of forest management, commercial forests include trees and undergrowth of different ages and at different growth stages. Agriculture and forestry are regulated through legislation to ensure that production is profitable and environmentally sustainable.

Production activities and the surrounding landscapes are shaped by local growing conditions and the activities chosen based on the conditions, such as the type of production and cultivation activities. Machines and other technology are increasingly used to assist human labour, which also has an impact on buildings in rural areas. Moreover, the seasons have a significant effect on production landscapes.

Further information

Raija Seppänen, Yliarkkitehti 
MMM, Ruokaosasto, Maaseudun kehittämisyksikkö 0295162483