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
Metsähallitus website: http://www.metsa.fi/default.asp?Section=1176
The county administrative board in Västerbotten
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: http://www.ac.lst.se/
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency website: http://www.internat.naturvardsverket.se/.
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: http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/nature/home.htm