You might have heard of allemansrätten, or seen the name on IKEA’s packed sauces. The name literally means “everyman’s right”, and is an important part of Swedish outdoor culture.
The right to roam is ancient and traditional, and codified into law in the 20th century. It’s even added to the constitution (grundlagen) in 1994.
What can you do with Allemansrätten?
Practically everything in the wild, except when it’s explicitly forbidden, when it disturbs residents, or when it harms nature. A rule of thumb is to Leave No Trace.
With allemansrätten, you can roam freely in the fields and forests, even off roads and paths, and on private or public land.
With allemansrätten, you can set up tent and fire freely, except when open fires are locally forbidden during hot seasons.
With allemansrätten, you can pick flowers, fruits and fungi freely in the wild.
The main exceptions are with parks, national parks and protected areas, or around homes and gardens, or when it harms vulnerable species.
Other countries’ allemansrätten
Norway has right to roam similar to Sweden’s. Finland, however, requires permission from land owners to set up a fire.
Denmark doesn’t have allemansrätten, except when crossing roads and paths of public access, making it similar to England in this aspect.
Scotland has right of access in the wild, including the right to tent. The right to tent in the wild is also granted in Switzerland, but not in Germany or Austria.
Challenges to allemansrätten
Unfortunately, some irresponsible people leave trash or affect others’ rights to enjoy nature. Some companies also unscrupulously harvest large amounts of natural products from the wild, thus affecting natural reproduction. Allemansrätten has thus attracted public debate from time to time; some members of the public went as far as to call for the abolition of allemansrätten.
However, as an ancient tradition upholding the right for the public to enjoy nature, allemansrätten is unlikely to be abolished, as long as the vast majority of people continue to use and enjoy nature in a responsible manner.
To learn more about allemansrätten, visit the website of Naturvårdsverket.