|In 2000 we started to test visitor counters for the Natural Heritage Services of Southern Finland, in the Teijo Hiking Area. At the same time we tested both an appropriate method for visitor counting and counting equipment. Encouraged by this experience, we started systematic visitor counting in nine southern national parks in 2001. Traditional everyman's rights (right of public access) guarantee all people – Finnish or otherwise – free access to Finland's forests, whether the forests be privately or publicly owned. This makes reliable visitor counting difficult, but at the same time extremely challenging. The main reason for visitor counting is the fact that the total number of visitors is not known well enough in protected and recreational areas. We also need to have comparable and reliable visitor information from different types of area and in the long run we need to know the trends as regards the number of visitors. Besides being very important for Metsahallitus itself, the reliable estimates we are able to produce are also of great regional significance. Visitors can be counted by electronic and mechanical counters of different kinds. We have four types of counter in use. Three electronic types can be used in trail and traffic counting and also indoors. In addition there is one mechanical type which can be used indoors, for example. At the moment the Natural Heritage Services of Southern Finland have about 40 counters in use. Each counter calculates visitors somewhat differently, depending on the installation of the counter, its placement and the quality of the counter. Also, different weather conditions may affect the counters. For these reasons, each counter must be calibrated independently, after which each counter has its own coefficient. After calibration one can calculate the counter’s final result. Thereafter it is possible to calculate the estimated total number of visitors in a specific area. Metsahallitus also carries out visitor counting in other parts of Finland, but not yet as systematically as in southern Finland. Naturally there is a connection between visitor surveys and visitor counting, as both qualitative and quantitative information is important in planning and management processes. This paper presents practical experiences of visitor counting from the Finnish perspective. The presentation deals with the process of planning visitor counting, the special equipment needed in counting and ways of transforming the figures from the calculators into estimates of the number of visits in a specific area. In addition, the results of a pilot study from the Teijo Hiking Area are presented as a case.