Off-road terrain or road
Roads constructed by Metsähallitus can be used by vehicles, but driving cross-country is prohibited without a special off-road traffic licence. It is for the driver to recognise the difference between a built road and a cross-country track. If you are unsure, you should avoid the route.
Roads constructed by Metsähallitus are for the use of the landowner but not the public. However, Metsähallitus will allow a road to be used at its discretion.
Motor vehicles may use all the roads Metsähallitus builds for use in the summer what vehicles may access and no damage is caused to the road structures or the environment. A brief check is normally enough to confirm that the route is a built road: the road surface is gritted with gravel or sand, there are ditches alongside the road, and there are bridges over rivers. A road never merely comes into existence because people have driven the route. On roads kept open to traffic in the winter and special roads refurbished for use in the winter, private vehicles are allowed at their own risk. The point at which a road ends and becomes a cross-country track is not generally indicated with traffic signs.
For hunters the difference between a road and a cross-country track is also significant in other ways. Fowl may not be shot from a road, even if it is a private one. It is also important to distinguish between a cross-country track and a road when it comes to carrying guns and bows. It is essentially prohibited to carry a hunting weapon (gun or bow) for the purposes of hunting in a motor vehicle off-road. In certain precisely defined cases, however, carrying an unloaded and secured weapon off-road is allowed. An off-road permit must be obtained in all cases. Further information on carrying weapons off-road: Hunting Act, section 35 (finlex.fi) (in Finnish) and Finnish Wildlife Agency (riistainfo.fi) (in Finnish).
Examples of the difference between off-road terrain and a built road
This is off-road terrain; no driving. In exceptional cases there is a sign prohibiting use of the route.
In problematic cases the prohibition may be indicated clearly with the use of traffic signs. There are only signs in some cases, however. Drivers must recognise the difference between off-road terrain and a built road.
This is off-road terrain; no driving. Sloping edges as an indication.
If a road has sloping edges it may mean that the track leading off-road is not meant for the public to drive on.
This is off-road terrain; no driving. Winter roadbed on peatland.
A winter roadbed gradually becomes peatland that offers poor load-bearing capacity, causing rutting and damage to the road structure. Because a winter roadbed on peatland is not meant for use in the summer, it may not be used either in situations where the frozen land would make it otherwise possible.
This is a road; driving is allowed. Built road, though poorly gritted.
This road may be used by vehicles, because it is a built road, even if it is unsatisfactorily gritted.
This is a road; driving is allowed. Winter roadbed is on mineral soil. You can drive on it up until the first barrier or fence.
This road can be used by vehicles without causing damage up until the first soft ground or other barrier/fence, although the roadbed has not really been built for traffic in the summer. This concerns a winter roadbed on mineral soil, and the bed is difficult to tell apart from an unbuilt one.
THIS IS A ROAD; DRIVING IS ALLOWED
1. The road is obviously a built one. Private motor vehicles are allowed at their own risk in the snow-free season on the Metsähallitus road network when the road in question has been constructed invariably for summertime use.
2. A winter road*) roadbed is obviously suitable for motor vehicles, for example on mineral soil. Sections of winter roads made by machine are also suitable for motor vehicles in summer. Such roads may be used by vehicles unless to do so would cause damage and the road itself is closed.
THIS IS OFF-ROAD TERRAIN; NO DRIVING
1. Off-road terrain refers to areas of land not meant for traffic.
2. A track that results from driving into off-road terrain is not considered a road that may be freely used by vehicles. All unbuilt tracks are regarded as off-road routes, and they may not be used by motor vehicles without an off-road permit from Metsähallitus.
3. A winter road track*) is to be regarded as an off-road route from the first soft ground or other natural or constructed barrier (rocky ground, stream, etc.).
*) What is a winter road?
Winter roads are temporary roads giving access to forest harvesting sites that are only used for timber transport during the time of the year when the earth is frozen.