Legislation on building and landscape protection

Protection of the cultural environment based on the Land Use and Building Act

The Land Use and Building Act and the Land Use and Building Decree require that the built environment and the landscape are taken into account in land use plans. The Act aims to promote a dynamic and high-quality cultural environment. The assessment of the impacts of a land use plan must also assess the direct and indirect impacts of its implementation on

  • the townscape
  • the landscape
  • cultural heritage and
  • the built environment.

Historically or architecturally valuable buildings and the townscape must be taken into account in new construction and reconstruction as well as in demolition. Excavation that alters the landscape, felling trees and other similar procedures are subject to a permit in areas covered by a local detailed plan and in certain other areas.

A national urban park may be established to protect

  • the beauty of a cultural or natural landscape,
  • natural biodiversity
  • historical characteristics, or
  • other related values in an urban environment.

Building protection

In areas covered by a local detailed plan and in areas where building is not permitted because a local detailed plan is being prepared, building protection is mainly organised in accordance with a local detailed plan based on the Land Use and Building Act. In other areas, building protection is carried out based on the Act on the Protection of the Built Heritage. The built heritage can be conserved through the protection of buildings, structures, groups of buildings or built up areas deemed significant in regard to the architectural history, architecture, special environmental values, the use of the building, or events related to the building. The Act on the Protection of the Built Heritage may also be used to protect the fixed furnishings of a building.

The objective of the Act on the Protection of the Built Heritage is to

  • safeguard the historical and regional diversity of the built cultural environment,
  • protect the characteristics and special features of the built cultural environment, and
  • promote its culturally sustainable maintenance and use.

The owner of a building deemed protected based on the Act on the Protection of the Built Heritage or otherwise significant in regard to cultural history may be granted subsidies within the limits of the central government budget for the purpose of taking care of and maintaining the building.

According to the Church Act and the Act on the Orthodox Church, all church buildings and their surroundings, fixed structures and artworks constructed before 1917 are protected. Church buildings constructed after 1917 may also be protected based on a separate decision.

Protection of archaeological cultural heritage

Ancient monuments are protected by the Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act also covers wide areas that contain ancient monuments and that have landscape-related value. Furthermore, a number of individual sites are located in cultural landscapes.

Landscape conservation under the Nature Conservation Act

According to the Nature Conservation Act, a landscape conservation area can be established to preserve and manage a natural or cultural landscape of outstanding beauty, historical interest or other special value.

Landscapes are also protected in national parks and strict nature reserves established based on the Nature Conservation Act by way of limiting activities that have an impact on the landscape.

Landscape conservation in agriculture and forestry, land extraction and mining activities

Landscape conservation is also affected by legislation on agriculture and forestry, land extraction and mining activities.

According to the Forest Act, if the site where felling is to be carried out is of special importance in terms of, for example, the landscape, felling may be carried out in a manner required by the special nature of the site. The Temporary Act on the Financing of Sustainable Forestry lays down provisions on forms of support that can be granted for, for example, regionally significant forest nature management projects that promote landscape, cultural or recreational values.

One of the objectives of the Act on the Financing of Rural Industries is to develop the conservation of cultural heritage in rural areas.In accordance with the Government Decree on compensation for disadvantaged areas and agri-environmental support and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Decree on special agri-environmental support, supported measures may include, for example, management of traditional biotopes or landscape development and management.

According to the Land Extraction Act, resources may not be extracted in such a way that beautiful scenery is disfigured, or that natural sites of significant scenic value or distinctive features are destroyed. In areas covered by a local detailed plan or a legally binding local master plan, it must be ensured that the extraction of resources has no detrimental effects on townscapes or landscapes.

According to the Mining Act, exploration is subject to a permit if it could cause deterioration in value related to the landscape. Even exploration pursuant to a permit must not cause significant damage to the landscape. Similarly, a mining permit shall not be granted if the mining activity causes highly significant detrimental environmental impacts, and said impacts cannot be remedied through permit regulations For the purpose of the Mining Act, environmental impact includes impact to buildings, the landscape, townscape and cultural heritage.

Environmental impact assessment

The Act on Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure applies to the environmental impact assessment of a project. An assessment must be carried out if required under an international agreement or if the project could have significant adverse environmental impacts on, among other things, the landscape, townscape or cultural heritage.