High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago
The Kvarken Archipelago (Finland) and the High Coast (Sweden) are situated in the Gulf of Bothnia, a northern extension of the Baltic Sea. The 5,600 islands of the Kvarken Archipelago feature unusual ridged washboard moraines, ‘De Geer moraines’, formed by the melting of the continental ice sheet, 10,000 to 24,000 years ago. The Archipelago is continuously rising from the sea in a process of rapid glacio-isostatic uplift, whereby the land, previously weighed down under the weight of a glacier, lifts at rates that are among the highest in the world. As a consequence islands appear and unite, peninsulas expand, and lakes evolve from bays and develop into marshes and peat fens. The High Coast has also been largely shaped by the combined processes of glaciation, glacial retreat and the emergence of new land from the sea. Since the last retreat of the ice from the High Coast 9,600 years ago, the uplift has been in the order of 285 m which is the highest known ''rebound''. The site affords outstanding opportunities for the understanding of the important processes that formed the glaciated and land uplift areas of the Earth''s surface.
2017 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
Interactions of ongoing geological processes with the biotic and abiotic environment
The High Coast and Kvarken areas differ considerably in the ways land uplift processes act on the biota. They are, in fact, complementary in terms of their biophysical evolution. They represent, respectively, the high and low topographical extremes of post-glacial uplifted landscapes in the Baltic. Here the two sites differ significantly: The High Coast (being much older at around 10.000 years compared to Kvarken’s 2000 years) provides a relatively stable biological environment, while Kvarken, whose low-lying landscape is constantly changing due to rising land, is biologically highly dynamic, with plants and animals continuously colonising newly emergent land surfaces and successional habitats (IUCN World Heritage Evaluation Report May 2006). The terrestrial influence progressively extends seawards into the Bothnian Sea and the continually emerging shores are colonized by pioneer species which are gradually replaced by a succession of plant communities (including e.g. the endemic hairgrass (Deschampsia bottnica) as the land rises. These biotopes are also acted on by waves and ice-drift, seawater salinity, substrate, topography, microclimate, chemical and physical properties and distance to the mainland. The result is that the seashore habitats are very heterogeneous and high in biodiversity and represent several Natura 2000 coastal habitat types. All of these processes have major effects for the plants and animals associated with the biotopes that must constantly adapt to the changing environments. (IUCN World Heritage Evaluation Report May 2006, IUCN World Heritage Evaluation Report Addendum 2000, UNEP-WCMC 2011)
RAMSAR area within the site (HELCOM 2014)
Risk: High (Likelihood: Possible Consequence: Major )
Trend: Static, increasing (depending on species).
Management capacity: Most fisheries are currently not under quota and as such are not regulated by any international body.
Risk: High (Likelihood: Possible Consequence: Moderate to major)
Management capacity: As with any marine area the exchange and interaction with the environment outside the site is very high and cannot be regulated. This is a result of the general pollution level of the Baltic Sea and originates outside the site.
Benthic communities such as meadows of submerged aquatic vegetation are deprived of light, and benthic invertebrate communities and fish are affected by oxygen depletion, ultimately suffocating.
However, possibly the most important effect of stratification in terms of eutrophication: hindering or preventing ventilation and oxygenation of the bottom waters and sediments by vertical mixing of the water, a situation that often leads to oxygen depletion. Furthermore, hypoxia and anoxia worsen the situation by affecting nutrient transformation processes, such as nitrification and denitrification, as well as the capacity of the sediments to bind phosphorus. In the absence of oxygen, reduced sediments release significant quantities of phosphorus to the overlying water. Climate change also risks increasing the nutrients carried into the sea via rivers and runoff as the precipitation increases (IUCN World Heritage Evaluation Report May 2006, HELCOM, 2010, Planning the Bothnian Sea 2012)
Risk: Very high (Likelihood: Almost certain Consequence: Major)
Management capacity: This is in essence a threat that originates outside the site and of which the site is only a small part. The management does not have the capacity or resources to address this threat, only a change in local behavior and international agreements can help alleviate the process (there is no way of reversing it). Any dredging should be strictly regulated and on a permission basis, however, this will cause tension with the stakeholders.
Not all marine litter is visible to the human eye. Microscopic particles from various sources, e.g., degradation of plastic waste, disturb food webs by mimicking food particles, attaching to organisms’ feeding appendices and causing famine to passive filter-feeders. Some hazardous substances adsorb onto the litter particles and may cause enhanced accumulation of hazardous substances in the food web. Studies in Swedish waters have shown that the amounts range from several hundred to a hundred thousand microscopic pieces in a cubic meter of seawater (Noren 2007, Noren et al. 2009). For unknown reasons, the largest micro-litter problem was found in the Gulf of Bothnia, bordering the site. (HELCOM 2010)
Risk: High (Likelihood: Likely Consequence: Moderate)
Management capacity: Here the management has potential to reverse the effect of the threat (with regards to macro plastics). Cleaning efforts aiming at most heavily used areas would already help alleviate the visual intrusion.
Management capacity: Currently management has no legal way of regulating the small scale dredging. Regulating the stakeholders rights to dredge will also create serious tension between management and stakeholders.
These seashore properties have considerable monetary and non-monetary value to a large number of people in both areas. A rough average of the number of secondary dwellings to permanently inhabited homes in the region is 1/1 to 0.5/1 (Planning the Bothnian Sea 2012).
Risk: Low risk
Management capacity: Building of new cottages requires permission from the governing body (depending on country) and the rules are quite strict. Again, the main negative effect of summer cottages is dredging for the harbors of each house.
However, the American mink can have a very adverse effect on the marine bird population breeding in the area. Measures are being taken to diminish the negative impact.
Risk: Low risk-High risk (Likelihood: Possible Consequence: Minor-major )
Management capacity: As with any marine area the exchange and interaction with the environment outside the site is very high and cannot be directly regulated by eg. enclosures. There is very little to no possibility for the management of the site to respond to this threat, especially after a species has already arrived, as it is an outside threat that is extremely hard to control. (HELCOM 2010)
Risk: Very high (Likelihood: Almost certain Consequence: Moderate-major)
Management capacity: As with any marine area the exchange and interaction with the environment outside the site is very high and cannot be regulated. This is a result of the general eutrophication of the Baltic Sea and originates outside the site. The management does not have the capacity or resources to address this threat.
Risk: High (Likelihood: Possible Consequence: Moderate)
Management capacity: building of new windfarms is under regulation (The Land Use and Building Act in Finland) and demands permission from the governing body.
Non-indigenous species may destabilize existing ecological relationships and in the worst cases may have serious consequences on the local food web (Oguz and Gilbert 2007).
Risk: Low to high risk (Likelihood: Possible Consequence: Minor/moderate)
Risk: High (Likelihood: Unlikely Consequence: Major)
Risk: High (Likelihood: Possible Consequence: Very high )
Risk: Very high (Likelihood: Almost certain Consequence: moderate)
Management capacity: There is very little to no possibility for the management of the World Heritage site to respond to this threat as it is an outside threat that is extremely hard to control.
Risk: Low risk (Likelihood: Possible Consequence: Minor )
Trend: static to increasing
Management capacity: here the management has a lot of potential to mitigate the effects of increased visitors pressure by monitoring the possible changes to the area caused by tourism.
(SoOUV 2013, Periodic reporting 2013).
Management is a complex issue in this area. There are management plans for all of the Nature Reserves and the National Park, but protected areas constitute only 9% of the area. The remaining land is largely under private ownership, but further regulations may still apply. The site falls within the jurisdiction of two municipalities: Örnsköldsvik and Kramfors and these two relevant municipalities do have development plan. The site also falls within the Västernorrland County which develops policies such as for logging. For some time a management plan for the area has been worked on, prescribing policies for its long-term development. It focuses on the management of its special assets: the geological and biological phenomena related to land uplift, the marine environment and the natural beauty of the landscape
The National Natural Resources Law recognises the High Coast as an area of national interest. A “Management Committee and Reference Group for the High Coast” exisits UNEP-WCMC 2010).
A pStrategic Management Plan for the Kvarken Archipelago was published in 2010 ( Metsähallitus 2010). It deals with the vision for the WH site, covering topics such as marketing, education, tourism, stakeholder participation, threats and protection, research cultural values, economy and funding, monitoring and principles of sustainable nature tourism Overall it is a very good example of a management plan with both immediate effects and a long-term vision.
The main responsibility for nature conservation and environmental protection rests with the Metsähallitus (Forest and Park Service) and the West Finland
Regional Environmental Centre which controls most land-use regimes, regulates and permits small-scale farming, fishing and forestry. The municipalities are responsible for planning and land use within their jurisdictions. Detailed management plans for the area include recent local shore master plans for the Archipelago by the municipalities of Malax, Vaasa and Korsnäs.
(IUCN evaluation of The Kvarken Archipelago 2006, Metsähallitus 2010)
The overall coordination between the range of administrative bodies/levels involved in the management of the property is effective but it could be improved. A more transparent and straightforward division of responsibilities has been called for, to ensure execution within the networks that have developed based on the national level authorities. The idea of what management concerns are the most important and should be prioritized differ somewhat between the two countries.
(Periodic reporting 2013, Svels 2010)
The recent project “World Heritage in Cooperation 63° N – High Coast/Kvarken” (2007 – 2014) supports the stakeholders in strengthening the cooperation between the countries, increasing public awareness.
(PROWAD 2013, Periodical reporting 2013)
residents/communities/landowners and they are considered adequate to maintain the property's Outstanding Universal Value. There is no buffer zone, but it is considered unnecessary (Periodic reporting 2013).
(Periodic reporting 2013, Svels 2010)
The recent project “World Heritage in Cooperation 63° N – High Coast/Kvarken” (2007 – 2014) supports the stakeholders in strengthening the cooperation between the countries, increasing public awareness, and providing material for multipliers in education (teachers, guides, entrepreneurs, politicians) (PROWAD 2013).
There are two visitor centres, one in the High Coast and one in Kvarken with exhibitions, information, movies, guided tours about the WH site and its OUV. Overall the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is adequately presented and interpreted but improvements could be made. (Periodic Report, 2013)
In Kvarken, the work on developing the WH tourism is in progress.
There are a number of cooperation with local entrepreneurs on marketing of products and services, on education and tourism. A Sustainable Tourism Strategy for Kvarken was developed in 2011 (download http://julkaisut.metsa.fi/julkaisut/show/905) The strategy’s objective is to develop the Kvarken Archipelago as a sustainable tourism destination so that the site’s natural and cultural values are retained and the host community’s social fabric does not suffer. The development of tourism within the Kvarken World Heritage Site is focused on improving the quality of the tourist services, the visibility of the world heritage values and respect for locality. The communication and customer service concerning the site, as well as the work carried out with the enterprises, is being intensified. (Meriruoho 2011) Several activities are carried out on communication, awareness and education (with EU funding). With regard to the tourism sector, knowledge about World Heritage exists, however in many cases, WH is only used as label in marketing and not for conservation of the site. In Sweden, the High Coast is already a known tourism destinations since the 1970s (about 300,000 overnight stays in two municipalities). (PROWAD 2013).
|№||Organization/ individuals||Project duration||Brief description of Active Projects|
|2||Kvarken Flada; Lead: Metsähallitus (FI) Financing instrument: Interreg Botnia-AtlanticaNA||
|The project's overall goal is to contribute to the conservation of the biodiversity and the ecosystem services produced by flads and glo-lakes. By increasing knowledge and emphasizing areas of highest priority in terms of protection and actions, the project will support sustainable management of flads. In the long run, the project aims to improve the marine and coastal environment through joint efforts and priorities and help to improve the region's green infrastructure and create opportunities for blue growth with positive ecological, economic and social effects. More information: https://www.botnia-atlantica.eu/about-the-projects/project-database/kvarken-flada|
|3||SeaGIS 2.0; Lead: County Administrative Board of Västerbotten (SE)||
|The aim of the project is to promote a sustainable use of the marine environment and a responsible use of marine resources. To achieve the objective the project will provide methods for a more integrated management of marine and coastal areas. SeaGIS 2.0 strives to find common solutions to achieve ecological, economic and social sustainability and development in the region|
|№||Site need title||Brief description of potential site needs||Support needed for following years|
|1||BACC Author Team (2008): Assessment of climate change for the Baltic Sea basin. Series: Regional Climate Studies. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidel- berg. 473 pp.|
|2||Backer H. & Frias M. (2012): Planning the Bothnian Sea- key findings of the Plan Bothnia project. Finepress Turku ISBN 978-952-67207-4-8|
|3||Bergström, A., Tatarenkov, A., Johannesson, K., Jonsson, R.B. & Kautsky, L. (2005). Genetic and morphological identification of Fucus radicans sp. nov. (Fucales, Phaeophyceae) in the brackish Baltic Sea. Journal of Phycology 41: 1025-1038.|
|4||Casini, M., J. Lövgren, J. Hjelm, M. Cardinale, J.-C. Moinero & G. Kornilovs (2008): Multi-level trophic cascades in a heavily exploited open marine ecosystem. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 275:1793-1801.|
Eriksson, B.K. & G. Johansson (2005): Effects of sedimentation on macroalgae: species-specific responses are related to reproductive traits.
|6||Eriksson, B.K., L. Ljungberg, A. Sandström, G. Johans- son, J. Mattila, A. Rubach, S. Råberg & M. Snickars (2009): Declines in predatory fish promote bloom-forming macroalgae. Ecological Applications 19:1975-1988.|
|7||HELCOM (2007d): Assessment of the marine litter problem in the Baltic region and priorities for response. HELCOM, 21 pp.|
|8||HELCOM 2014: http://maps.helcom.fi/website/mapservice/index.html|
|9||HELCOM, 2010: Ecosystem Health of the Baltic Sea 2003–2007: HELCOM Initial Holistic Assessment. Balt. Sea Environ. Proc. No. 122|
|10||Heck, K.L. Jr. & J.F. Valentine (2007): The primacy of top-down effects in shallow benthic ecosys- tems. Estuaries and Coasts 30:371-381.|
|11||ICES 2013a.1: http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2…|
|12||ICES 2013a.2: http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2…|
|13||ICES 2013b: http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2…|
|14||ICES 2013c: http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2…|
|15||Johannesson et al. BMC Ecology 2012, 12:2|
|16||Korpinen, S. & V. Jormalainen (2008): Grazing and nutrients reduce recruitment success of Fucus vesiculosus L. (Fucales: Phaeophyceae). Estua- rine, Coastal and Shelf Science 78:437-444.|
|17||Korpinen, S. (2008): Nutrient enrichment and water depth modify consumer control in rocky shore macroalgal communities. Doctoral thesis, Uni- versity of Turku, Finland. Annales Universitatis Turkuensis SER AII: 222, 37 pp. Available at: https://oa.doria.fi/handle/10024/37818.|
Matthäus, W. & G. Nausch (2003): Hydrographic-hydro- chemical variability in the Baltic Sea during
the 1990s in relation to changes during the 20th century. ICES Marine Science Symposia 219:132-143.
|19||Metsahallitus 2010: Stategic management plan for the Kvarken Archipelago World Heritage Site. (contact Susanna Lindeman for an English version)|
|20||Ministry of the Environment (MoE) (2005). Proposal of New Boundaries. (Appendix 16 to Nomination).|
|21||Morton, B. (1996): The subsidiary impacts of dredging (and trawling) on a subtidal benthic Molluscan community in the Southern Waters of Hong Kong. Marine Pollution Bulletin 32:701-710|
|22||Mäkinen, A. & Leppäkoski, E. (2014): OLJEOLYCKOR HAR VI INTE RÅD MED Tidskriften Skärgård Årgång 27 Nr 4 / 2004|
|23||Möllman, C., B. Müller-Karulis, R. Diekmann, J. Flink- man & A. Gårdmark (2007): Ecosystem regime state in the Baltic Proper, Gulf of Riga, Gulf of Finland, and the Bothnian Sea. HELCOM indica- tor fact sheet 2007.|
|24||Naturvardsverket, 2014: http://w3.vic-metria.nu/n2k/jsp/main.jsp|
|25||Norén, F. (2007): Mikroskopiska plastpartiklar i väster- havet. K. S. K. I. Miljöorganisation: 1-10. [In Swedish]|
|26||Norén, F., S. Ekendahl & U. Johansson (2009): Mikroskopiska antropogena partiklar i svenska hav. Report to Swedish Environment Protection Agency. [In Swedish]|
Oguz, D. & D. Gilbert (2007): Abrupt transitions of the top-down controlled Black Sea pelagic ecosystem during 1960–2000: Evidence for
regime-shifts under strong fishery exploitation and nutrient enrichment modulated by climate- induced variations. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 54:220-242.
|28||Reusch TBH, Ehlers A, Hämmerli A, Worm B: Ecosystem recovery after climatic extremes enhanced by genotypic diversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2005, 102:2826-2831.|
|29||Riemann, B. & E. Hoffmann (1991): Ecological con- sequences of dredging and bottom trawling in the Limfjord, Denmark. Marine Ecology Progress Series 69:171-178.|
|30||Vos, M., B.W. Kooi, D.L. DeAngelis & W.M. Mooij (2004): Inducible defences and the paradox of enrichment. Oikos 105:471-480.|
|31||Österblom, H., S. Hansson, U. Larsson, O. Hjerne, F. Wulff, R. Elmgren & C. Folke (2007): Human- induced trophic cascades and ecological regime shifts in the Baltic Sea. Ecosystems 10:877-889.|