Paddling and the
Right of Public Access
You are free to go just about anywhere along Sweden’s
shores, and in its lakes and watercourses. We are all guests
in nature, and must be considerate and responsible toward
Do not disturb, do not destroy – that is the basic principle
of Sweden’s right of public access.
Observe without disturbing
An Arctic loon with its young, an osprey soaring high above
the water, perhaps a glimpse of a beaver.
Observing wildlife can add spice to the experience of
nature. You are free to observe, but do not approach animals
too closely in order to get a better view or photograph.
Canoes and kayaks move quietly, and may easily come too
close to nesting birds on shores and islands. Be extra
careful during spring and summer, when birds are tending
their eggs and chicks. The young may not survive if they are
scattered or their parents are harried from the nest.
Tips on wildlife protection
Be observant. If birds and other wildlife appear nervous,
you are too close. The Arctic loon, which often nests on
islands, is especially sensitive to disturbances. If it
swims about in offshore waters, it probably has a nest
nearby. You may not rest or set up camp near dwellingsites
of birds. The osprey often makes its nest on the top of a
pine tree near a shore or on an islet. If a bird “hangs“ in
the air above its nest, you are too close.
Do not harry a brood of birds in front of your canoe or
kayak! Especially on narrow watercourses lacking shoreline
vegetation, there is a great risk that the birds will
scatter. Stop and wait for them to move out of the way.
there are several craft, it is best to gather together and
pass the brood as quickly as possible.
Certain sites with especially sensitive birdlife are
protected as sanctuaries. It is forbidden to land at bird
sanctuaries or to linger in the vicinity.
The right of public access may also be restricted with
special regulations at other locations such as protected
shoreline zones and nature reserves. Within such areas, it
may be forbidden to light fires or set up tents, for
example. There are usually signs that indicate which rules
In order to impede the spread of crayfish disease, boats and
equipment must be allowed to dry before being moved from one
body of water to another.
Leave no trace at the campsite
Wherever possible, overnight stays should be restricted to
designated campsites, which are usually equipped with
fireplaces, rubbish bins and latrines. Otherwise, choose a
location where there is no risk of disturbance to local
residents. You may not remain at the same location for more
than 24 hours without permission from the landowner.
Larger groups must always ask permission, even for a stay of
one night. Leave no trace behind at the campsite.
Take all rubbish with you. It is forbidden to leave bags of
rubbish beside bins that are full; animals will spread the
Use the campsite latrine. If none is available, dig a small
hole in the ground and cover it thoroughly when you are
done. Pack a small shovel for this purpose.
Fires are prohibited during the summer months, when the risk
of forest fire is great. It is also forbidden to light fires
in campsite fireplaces during this season. Tourist bureaus
and boat-hiring facilities can provide information on when
fires are banned. Of course, there are also fire risks
during other seasons. Bring a small camp stove along; they
are permitted year-round. But if it does become necessary to
light an open fire, choose suitable ground covered with
stones or gravel, and with ready access to water for
dousing. Watch out for winds that can blow sparks into the
surrounding area. Let the fire die down, and douse the coals
thoroughly with water. Do not light fires directly on solid
rock, as it may crack from the heat. Do not leave metal foil
or other non-flammable material in the ashes; it will remain
as litter in the landscape.
Branches, twigs and evergreen cones may be gathered as fuel.
But it is not permitted to remove bark from living trees, or
to damage them in any other way.
Be considerate on land, as well
When portaging between bodies of water, it is not permitted
to cross house grounds or farm fields. Close gates behind
you. When transporting kayaks or canoes to water, obey signs
that forbid vehicular traffic on private roads. Also, be
sure to ask landowners for permission before parking cars or
caravans overnight on private roads.
Have an enjoyable outing, and be sure to leave no traces
Example of sign at bird sanctuary.
Protected natural areas
This is the symbol for protected natural areas, including
nature reserves and national parks.
Such areas usually have special rules that restrict the
right of public access.
Additional information, including a
list of available materials on the right of public access,
is available on the web site of the Swedish Environmental
Telephone: +46/8-505 933 40
+46/8-505 933 99
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
Postal address: SE-106 48 Stockholm.
Street address: Blekholmsterrassen 36, Telephone:
+46/8-698 10 00