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I´ve heard and read quite some facts and myths about the Scandinavian concept of Allemansrätten, the right for everybody to use nature, e.g. for hiking and camping. However, I couldn´t find a reliable source, so it´s hard for me to decide wether it´s fact or myth.

Where and under what circumstances and limitations is the Allemansrätten valid? What differences are there between different countries?

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    I can't find the link now, but I remember a single instance where people were told "this is beyond allemansrätten". A group of Norwegians tourist fishing people had flown almost 1000 kg of equipment into the Swedish mountains, built semi-solid constructions including electricity generators, satellite dish, TV, refrigirators, etc., and simply made camp somewhere in the wild. The police (probably informed by a reindeer herder) told them "you must leave immediately". I don't know if they managed (their flight home wasn't ordered until a week later). – gerrit Jun 11 '14 at 2:38
  • Conclusion: you need to go very, very far before you will be told off. Nobody will complain if you stay a week or even two weeks in the same place in the mountains. If your tent is still there by next spring, they're probably going to have a look if there's any dead body inside. – gerrit Jun 11 '14 at 2:42
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    The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has written a leaflet about Allemansrätten in several languages: naturvardsverket.se/Var-natur/Allemansratten/… You could probably figure out which language is which even though the page is in Swedish. Direct link to the English one: naturvardsverket.se/Documents/publikationer6400/… – Ahlqvist Jun 13 '14 at 8:38
  • This question on travel.stackexchange is related: travel.stackexchange.com/q/2582 – Paul Paulsen Jun 16 '14 at 13:57
  • @EverythingRightPlace My plan was to expand the wiki on all countries with a concept like this, but I haven´t found the time. The difference to the question you mentioned is that I´m interested about trespassing, foraging and fire making as well, not only camping. – Paul Paulsen Aug 1 '14 at 16:26
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It's not a myth.

In Sweden allemansrätten (lit. "the everyman's right") is a freedom granted by the Constitution of Sweden. Since 1994 the Instrument of Government says that notwithstanding the right to own property "everyone shall have access to nature in accordance with allemansrätten"

source: Wiki

You are allowed to use nature but you are also responsible for it. There are some restrictions which are summarized by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. For camping you have to check the local rules, in some areas it's not allowed to camp (check e.g. national parks). In general you have to look for developed ground. I once heard unless the local householders can't see and hear you, it's OK to construct your tent there if you keep everything clean of course. There are no strict rules though. And you shouldn't stay more than one night at a place.

As a dog owner you have to observe strict rules in order to protect wildlife.

Check also naturetravels.wordpress.com where they e.g. say

The Right of Public Access has a number of parts, but in essence it can be summed up in the phrase “Do not disturb, do not destroy”

and for the differences between other European countries, see https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/111/2653

To summarize, just take care for others - not only human beings - and everything is predestined to have a great time in the Swedish nature :)


To answer regarding the comment from @Paul

We can't give exact rules of behaviour because there are no strict rules in the law. I find this very admirable because the government seems to trust people to act properly.

I think the camping aspect is very interesting, I will therefore quote the complete part from naturetravels.wordpress.com:

I’ve heard that you can camp wild anywhere in Sweden. Is this true?

Up to a point, yes. The freedom to camp wild is one of the great joys of an outdoor holiday in Sweden. You should not pitch your tent on farmland or near a house, and stays in any one location are limited to a night or two.

Groups of friends pitching two or three tents do not need to obtain permission from the landowner, but as always, you must respect the privacy of anyone living nearby and take care not to damage the natural environment.

Generally, a good rule of thumb is to ensure that you pitch your tent out of site of people’s houses and do not stay more than two nights in the same spot. Don’t forget to take all your litter away with you (including food scraps –orange peel, for example, can take many years to degrade naturally!). If no other option exists, make sure you bury your toilet waste properly. Choose a spot at least 50m from houses, camping spots, water sources, etc. Dig a hole 15cm deep for your waste and then fill in soil on top. Do not bury non-degradable items such as children’s nappies or female sanitary products.

  • Thank you for your answer, although it is not exactly what I was looking for. I know that it´s not a myth, but I was unsure about things like "as long as they can´t see you it´s OK". These limitations were the ones I was asking about - thanks for the links, though. – Paul Paulsen Jun 10 '14 at 20:25
  • @Paul I added some lines to my answer but you have to ask more specifically to get an answer more concrete. I don't know what exactly you were looking for. – Wills Jun 10 '14 at 20:42
  • "more than one night" is a bit exaggerated. In the mountains it is fine to camp two nights at the same spot if you plan to climb a mountain or so, but beyond a week you need to inform authorities. – gerrit Jun 11 '14 at 2:31
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This answer shall try to provide a comprehensive list of limitations and rules related to the use of nature in northern european countries, where free access to nature often is known under the name of "allemansrätten". It builds upon bashophils answer and its links.

Sweden

The basic motto is: Do not disturb, do not destroy.

  • You are allowed to hike and ski almost everywhere. Example where you are not allowed to do so because you would destroy or disturb are the grounds of a house, gardens, crop fields and the like.
  • You are allowed to pitch a tent for camping in the countryside. Don´t disturb people living nearby or the landowner, choose a site well away from house and don´t cause any damage to the ground and vegetation. If camping in a large group (more than 2-3 tents) or for a longer period of time (more than 2-3 nights) you must obtain the landowners permission in advance. Some municipalities may also have individual regulations, for example banning camping in certain recreational areas.
  • Lighting a fire is normally allowed. Don´t light a fire on rocks as this will leave scars and don´t light it on vegetation. You are allowed to collect fallen cones and branches, but not more. During dry periods there may be a fire ban which also applies to prebuilt fireplaces. You are still allowed to use charcoal grills or camping stoves during firebans.
  • The right for public access does not cover motorized access. You are not allowed to drive on uncovered trails with motorized vehicles. It may be forbidden by a sign for private roads.
  • Access to nature might be restricted for national parks and nature reserves. There will be signs explaining the restrictions.

All information has been taken from Naturvårdsverket, which also lists in detail rules for a number of other activities.

  • I will try to add information for other countries as soon as possible. Feel free to help out – Paul Paulsen Jun 15 '14 at 22:29
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    The fire regulations are a little more complicated that just a binary yes-no. There are several states of "ban", sometimes fires may only be lit in pre-built fireplaces or a general warning to be extra cautious might be issued. – Marcus Wigert Jun 27 '14 at 8:23

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