Freedom to Roam
The wonderful Swedish nature lays open for all of us. We can enjoy scents, birdsongs, flowering meadows and the peaceful silence of the forest. However, be gentle to the nature and considerate towards other people and animals. Most importantly, the Freedom to Roam expects everyone to respect the surrounding nature….do not interfere or destroy the environment.
The Privacy of Others
To walk, run, ride and ski on someone else’s land is allowed – if you do not damage crops, forest, growing fields etc. However, you may not cross or reside upon private property, this is considered trespassing. Private property, which is not always enclosed, is the area closest to the main house. The residents have the right to be left in peace in this area – “Privacy of the home-zone”. You can pass fairly close to the house if it is sheltered from view, but preferably not closer than 10 meters.
To pitch a tent for one or a couple of days is allowed on ground that is not used for agriculture and ground that is located remotely from dwelling houses. The closer to an inhabited house that you want to camp, the greater the risk of disturbing someone – and all the more reason to ask the landowners for permission. How long you can camp in one area depends on the circumstances. It is highly inappropriate to camp, even for a single night, right outside someone’s private property without asking for permission. Different rules apply for caravans.
Traveling in forests and on grounds
It is prohibited to drive cars, motorcycles, mopeds and other motor vehicles in the terrain or on roads closed to motorized traffic. Such roads can be marked by the sign “Prohibition against traffic with motorized vehicles” (Förbud mot trafik med motordrivet fordon) or “Private road” (Enskild/privat väg). You can park immediately next to the road. Remember to park your car or caravan so that it does not prevent someone passing by or becomes a danger to the traffic. Be extremely careful, if you go horseback riding on someone else’s land. The risk of land damage is increased. Do not ride on marked jogging tracks, hiking trails or other places where you can disturb others. The same goes for biking. You may pass enclosed areas as long as you do not damage fences. Close gates properly in order to not risk letting cattle loose. DO NOT climb fences on private property.
Lighting a fire is allowed as long as there is no risk of conflagration (forest fire). Public fire bans can be applied during droughts. Extinguish your fire properly before you leave the scene. You can be sentenced and required to pay considerable fines and compensation to landowners if the fire spreads. Never light a fire directly on flat rocks, they will crack and it leaves horrible scars in the nature.
Bathing and boats
You may swim and berth your boat for one or a couple of days and go ashore everywhere, except on private property or where an authority specifically has forbidden access, e.g. for the protection of birdlife. How long you can camp in one area depends on the circumstances. The same rules as those for camping apply here. To row, sail, paddle or drive a motorboat on someone else’s water is allowed. Note the following specific restrictions: e.g. speed limits, refusal of access or prohibition against waterskiing. It is most important to be considerate, particularly when travelling by motorboat.
Do not litter
Remember to clean up after yourself when you have been camping or have had a picnic in the forest or the grounds. Never set your trash next to a full trashcan. Wild animals will tear it apart and pull out the trash. Glass, cans and bottle caps can harm both people and animals. Plastic bags can cause considerable suffering if animals accidentally swallow them.
Picking flowers and berries
You may not take twigs, branches, bark, leaves, acorns, nuts or sap from growing trees. It is considered vandalism or theft. Naturally, you are not allowed to cut down growing trees or shrubs. You may pick wild berries, flowers, mushrooms, take fallen branches and dry sticks off the ground. Some flowers are so rare that they are at a risk of extinction. Such flowers are legally protected and may not be picked. Remember to look up which plants are legally protected in the area you are visiting. This information is available from the Provincial Office.
Keep your dog on a leash
Your dog can accompany you in the nature, but may not run in the forest or the grounds without a leash between March 1st and August 20th. At other times, you still need to keep your dog under close supervision so that it does not injure or scare wild animals. Remember that even the most peaceful little dog can scare other people or animals with its mere presence.
Fishing and hunting
Fishing is not included in the Freedom to Roam. However, you may fish with a fishing rod or other handheld tools in our five largest lakes and along the seacoast. A permit (fishing license) is required in all other waters. There are 22 different waters where you can fish in Bengtsfors’ municipality. You can buy a fishing license at the tourist office. Never leave fishing lines or hooks in the nature! They can become deadly traps to the animals.
Hunting is also not included in the Freedom to Roam. You are not allowed to take bird eggs. Let the animals’ offspring and nests be left in peace.
The Environmental Protection Card
The nature is our greatest asset and we would like to share it with you. The nature is also very vulnerable and it is necessary to show the utmost consideration when residing in nature. Several campsites have been established by the water system, in order to assure a safe and peaceful visit for canoers and all others. When on private property be considerate of the landowners. Do not cut down trees or bushes.
Furthermore, there are rangers in the area who can inform and help you during your canoe vacation. Currently we have an Environmental Protection Card requiring all canoeists and people utilizing the campsites to pay 40 SEK per person per day. This fund is used for compensation of the landowners for the lease of their campsites and helps to pay for other services including the rangers. It also goes to reparations, maintenance, development and supervision. Thank you for helping us preserve our nature and remember to be careful when handling fires.
The Environmental Protection Card can be bought: at the tourist office, canoe rentals or from the DVVJ supervisors.