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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 our surroundings.

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. If



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 apply.

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 rubbish about.

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.


Fire safety

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 behind you.



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 Protection Agency: www.naturvardsverket.se


To order:

E-mail: natur@cm.se

Telephone: +46/8-505 933 40

Telefax: +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


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