Hämeenkyrö P35, 6.7.2001 © Tapio Heikkilä/ Visuaalinen maisemaseuranta/ MTT:n arkisto

Agricultural landscapes

The visual monitoring of Finnish agricultural landscapes was launched in 1996. Locations of the 13 monitoring areas are depicted on the attached map.

Click any symbol on the map to view photos from the selected location. The survey method is described in more detail in Photographing agricultural landscapes

Rural landscapes play an important role in Finland’s cultural history. As opposed to closed forests, which are a dominant characteristic in the Finnish landscape, open fields and pastures provide clear and beautiful sceneries over large areas. Together with agricultural features, such as barns and farmhouses, the open agricultural landscapes are an important environmental setting for the local inhabitants. The countryside scenery also connects them emotionally and historically to their living environment. This may be the reason for the traditional agricultural landscapes being so highly appreciated in Finland. Habitats influenced by traditional agriculture are also very important for the Finnish biodiversity.

Typical agricultural landscapes vary greatly in different regions. In the coastal areas of Southern and Western Finland, agriculture is a dominant form of land use, with large uniform cereal fields. In Eastern and Northern Finland agriculture usually plays a smaller role, as small-sized field parcels are scattered in landscapes dominated by conifer forests. On the other hand, cattle breeding is more common in the eastern and northern parts of the country.

In different parts of Finland the agricultural landscapes are facing different threats. In the southern regions farming is most intensive, reducing the diversity of both landscapes and species. Additionally, the growing urban areas are extending into the countryside, changing their appearance. Meanwhile, in Eastern and Northern Finland agriculture is generally in decline, and in large areas the countryside is slowly being abandoned. Especially the smaller-sized family farms are quitting, leaving their fields for afforestation.