Espoo has set up over 90 nature reserves that cover almost 4,000 hectares of land. The largest of them is the Nuuksio National Park, which extends to Vihti and Kirkkonummi, and is in full state ownership. The park contains a large core area and several smaller areas, and is continuously extended by buying or exchanging land. Parts of the nature reserves owned by the city, but located inside the Nuuksio Natura area, have also been annexed to the National Park through a land exchange.
Other major preservation areas include Espoonlahti and Laajalahti nature reserves, which are mostly covered by water, as well as Luukki, Ryssänkallio-Isosuo, Hakjärvi and the Kaitalampi primeval forest in Northern Espoo. The rest of the protected areas are smaller in size and owned by Espoo, Helsinki or private land owners. In addition, Espoo owns a 27 ha heritage forest, which was named Ritva's Forest after the late Ritva Veijonen, Director of Environmental Affairs.
Jubilee year honoured with 17 new nature reserves
In honour of Espoo's 550th anniversary in 2008, the city council decided to protect 550 hectares of forest, which have significant nature value and meet the requirements of a nature reserve. In 2009 and 2010, there were 17 new nature reserves founded in different parts of Espoo from the wildwoods in the north to the archipelagic forests in Pentala. Area-wise, 550 hectares account for some 3% of the 17,000 hectares of forests in Espoo.
The largest of the new nature reserves are the 108 ha Ryssänkallio-Isosuo forest and mire area, and the 54 ha Kalajärvenkallio and Bergö-Ramsö reserves in Suvisaaristo. Sorvalampi-Häkläjärvi and Pentala nature reserves are also larger than 50 hectares. Other significant areas include the central park forest (48 ha) and the Myllypuro thin-peated rich spruce mire in Niipperi (24 ha). The reserves further include a number of smaller areas.
Protected sites are located mainly in conservation and recreational areas under master plans, and to some extent in agricultural or forestry areas. The public right of access grants everyone the right to enjoy nature reserves by camping, berry or mushroom picking or other recreation. Orienteering is also allowed with the exception of mass events. Hunting under the Hunting Act is permitted, as is the maintenance of trails and paths, for example.