Nature conservation

The Kvarken archipelago is an internationally valuable natural area with many important habitats and endangered species. The area is characterised by its small scale and its biological and geomorphological diversity. The purpose of the nature conservation is to retain the archipelago and its natural habitats in their natural state and to prevent a worsening of the aquatic environment. This natural treasure can be threatened by logging, unregulated tourism and recreation, construction of summer homes and the disappearance of natural habitats created through traditional land use, such as pastures.

In Finland the government has established nature conservation programmes that include areas with flora and fauna deemed worthy of protection for future generations. The programmes include formation of conservation areas and management and use planning. Until such time that the nature conservation programmes are implemented, areas covered by the Natura 2000 scheme are well protected under the Nature Conservation Act.

The most valuable portions of western Kvarken are largely protected as a nature reserve and are included in the Natura 2000 network, which has provisions to protect the reserve's natural treasures and the environment. Measures that substantially reduce natural treasures are prohibited, but freedom of movement is usually not restricted.

The most valuable parts of Kvarken are mainly protected by the Environmental Code (Sweden), which went into force in 1999, and the Nature Conservation Act (Finland), which became law in 1997. In areas not covered by the nature conservation programmes or which are nature reserves, the geologically valuable sites are protected through regulation of activities that have an environment impact.

Responsibility for implementing and managing nature conservation in Kvarken rests with Västerbotten county administrative board, West Finland Regional Environment Centre and Metsähallitus in Finland. They collaborate with landowners, many different organisations and local interest groups.


West Finland Regional Environment Centre
The West Finland Regional Environment Centre is a government authority covering the regions of Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia and Southern Ostrobothnia. The Environment Centre deals with information about environmental protection, land use, conservation of natural resources, care of the cultural environment, oversight of construction and utilisation and care of water resources. The Centre has full responsibility for implementing conservation programmes and handling negotiations with landowners. It collaborates with other regional authorities and participates in the area's development. The 56 municipalities in the area take care of environmental matters at the local level.

The Environment Centre's website:
Finland's environmental administration:

Metsähallitus is a state-owned enterprise that runs business activities while also fulfilling many public administration duties. Metsähallitus's operational unit for nature conservation is governed and financed by the Ministry of the Environment with respect to nature conservation and by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry with respect to outdoor recreation. The regional unit that covers Kvarken is Ostrobothnia's nature services, with bases in locations such as Vaasa, Oulu and Kuusamo. Ostrobothnia's Nature Services manages 420,000 hectares of government land reserved for conservation, as well as 1,400,000 hectares of government-owned public water areas, mainly in the maritime areas. Ostrobothnia's nature services encompass six national parks, five nature reserves and four areas with hiking trails. Metsähallitus is responsible for care, planning, monitoring, guiding and service in the areas it manages.

Metsähallitus website:


The county administrative board in Västerbotten
The county administrative board is a government body that serves as the regional office of the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) and Government and ensures that important decisions are implemented. The county governor is the executive of the county administrative board. The county administrative board also has a board of directors consisting of politicians from the county.

The board's duties related to conservation and natural resources include regional responsibility for the EU's network of protected nature reserves (Natura 2000), establishing nature reserves and caring for these nature reserves. The board has officers whose job is to care for and inspect the various nature reserves in Western Kvarken.

The county administrative board's website:

Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is a government environmental authority that promotes ecologically sustainable development. The Government has mandated the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate and drive environmental initiatives both nationally and internationally. One of the Agency's duties in the field of conservation is to implement the EU's Natura 2000 network in Sweden.

Swedish Environmental Protection Agency website:


Finland and Sweden are members of the European Union. Both countries participate in the Natura 2000 network and most of the nature reserves in Kvarken are already included in this network.

The EU commission's website for Natura 2000:


Texts: Anders Enetjärn, Lise-Lotte Molander.
Translation: Accent Språkservice AB.
Layout & illustrations: Päivi Anttila.
Webbdesign: Fredrik Smeds, Freddi Com Oy Ab.
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