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Northern Europe’s untamed land

Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe

Northern Europe’s untamed land

Northern Europe’s untamed land

Erlend Haarberg

Northern Europe’s untamed land

Northern Europe’s untamed land

Erlend Haarberg

Northern Europe’s untamed land

Northern Europe’s untamed land

Orsolya Haarberg

Northern Europe’s untamed land

Northern Europe’s untamed land

Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe

Northern Europe’s untamed land

Northern Europe’s untamed and unique land – home of the Sami, charismatic wildlife species and natural treasures.

Swedish Lapland – Sápmi – is a unique blend of untamed nature and cultural heritage. Here old-growth forests, mountains, glaciers, free-flowing rivers and extensive wetlands co-exist with the indigenous Sami community since millennia. There is no other place in continental Europe with such vast, uninhabited, road-less and original landscapes as Swedish Lapland. Here, the large-scale reindeer migration and river systems shape the ecology and the landscape as well as people’s lives. However, even under such pristine conditions, there are threats and needs to ensure that the uniqueness of the land remains and that some lost components are brought back.

With the snow-capped mountains, glaciers, unbroken taiga forest, vast wetlands and rich wildlife, Swedish Lapland is for good reasons sometimes referred to as “Europe’s Alaska”. The Rewilding Sweden area is located in northern Sweden and Norway. It stretches from the Atlantic fjords in the west over a range of mountains, vast taiga forests and marshlands, and connects with the northern part of the Baltic Sea via some of Europe’s most well-preserved river systems – Råne, Kalix and Pite rivers. Within a core area of more than 3 million hectares, less than 1,000 people live permanently.


Rewilding vision

For each rewilding area we developed an inspiring vision that shows our ambition for the next ten years. Together with our local partners we work to make this vision a reality.

What are we doing here?

Connecting mountains with the Baltic Sea: the blue-green corridor

Laplands rivers flowing from the high glaciers of the western mountains down to the Baltic plain, its lakes, wetlands and forests define the physical essence of the area. A long history of use, particularly for floating logs to the sea in the past, have altered the rivers and some are dammed.

Even the undammed rivers have been substantially altered and a variety of anthropogenic factors have negatively impacted fish migration. Rivers such as the 210 kilometre-long Råne and 400 kilometre-long Pite today witness annual runs of salmon and sea trout that are far less than their natural carrying capacity.

Working alongside Norbotten County and fishing associations on the Råne and Pite rivers, Rewilding Sweden has worked to boost fish populations, removing artificial obstacles, returning boulders to the river bottom (that were removed for log floating) and restoring spawning grounds. Sonar based counting monitors the effectiveness of such action. Current work is focused on the Abramsåm River where survey and community consultation is underway to prepare environmental impact assessments for future restoration.  

Linked to the restoration of rivers is the restoration of the wetlands flanking those rivers, especially the peatland systems that regulate water flows and store vast amounts of carbon. On the upper Spik tributary of the Råne River 

In Sweden’s first-ever fishing management system, the Råne River Fishing Association – a collection of 275 landowners that rents fishing rights – now employs a strict catch-and-release policy, and has imposed a complete ban on fishing in the river at certain times of the year. A similar approach has been taken on the Pite, which is renowned for its salmon, sea trout and grayling.

Together with river restoration, Rewilding Sweden is exploring new nature-based business opportunities, providing support to enterprises involved in fishing and otter watching on the lower Råne.

Promoting co-existence with wildlife

Swedish Lapland’s vast wilderness is home to a huge diversity of animals. This is a land where healthy populations of brown bear, lynx and wolverine still roam free. These rich natural resources can form the basis for a far more vibrant and sustainable local economy. Within the project Wildlife Economies (WLE) we work with 8 other parties on enabling nature-based enterprises in 4 European regions, including Swedish Lapland.

By collaborating with Sami communities to develop wildlife watching businesses and guided reindeer tourism, the Rewilding Sweden team and partners are working to grow a local nature-based economy and reduce human-wildlife conflict. Raising Sami income from wildlife watching will hopefully contribute to greater acceptance and protection of local wild nature, including an increased tolerance of the presence of large carnivores.

Our main achievements

Visit the area

Ringed by the Arctic Circle and bordered by Norway, Finland and the Baltic Sea, Swedish Lapland extends across the top quarter of Sweden. Frequently referred to as “Europe’s Alaska”, the region is home to the Sami – the European Union’s only indigenous people – who call Lapland Sápmi.

Learn more

Orsolya Haarberg

Image gallery

Contact

Roger Olsson

Ad interim team leader

Board members

Walter Naeslund
Roger Olsson
Nina Siemiatkowski
Magnus Sylvén
Frans Schepers

Advisors to the board:

Lars-Anders Baer
Lena Lindén

Partners

In 2015, a new legal entity (a foundation) was registered in Sweden, called Rewilding Lapland. The name of this organisation has now changed into Rewilding Sweden (2018), and is Rewilding Europe’s preferential partner. In 2015, both organisations signed a 5-year partnership agreement, including a 5-year strategy for the rewilding initiative.

Rewilding Sweden has established partnerships with the local association for the Pite River (Pite Älv Ekonomisk Förening) and the Råne River (Degerselsbygdens Samfällighetsförening). Also, a partnership has been established with the Swedish Ecotourism Association.

Other important, current partnerships include the Norrbotten County Board (Länsstyrelsen Norrbotten), Swedish Lapland, local municipalities (e.g. Arvidsjaur), the Swedish Tourist Association (Svenska Turistföreningen), the Swedish Biodiversity Centre (Centrum för Biologisk Mångfald), and the Grimsö Wildlide Research Station (Grimsö Viltforskningsstation).

Contact

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