Protection of World Heritage

Why are World Heritage Sites worth protecting? Because all the World Heritage Sites have an Outstanding Universal Value or OUV. In other words, each World Heritage Site is

  • outstanding, which means that the site is one of a kind on Earth
  • universal, which means that the site is outstanding from a global perspective, not just from a national or regional perspective
  • valuable, which means that the cultural or natural values make the site outstanding and universal

Besides being of outstanding universal value, each World Heritage Site must meet at least one out of ten UNESCO’s selection criteria. The High Coast and Kvarken Archipelago World Heritage Site is based on geological criteria number eight. Before nominating a World Heritage Site, UNESCO also considers the protection, management, authenticity and integrity of the site.

Protecting our World Heritage

The High Coast and the Kvarken Archipelago is protected through management, informing of the values and adequate legislation. The environmental national legislation protects the World Heritage Site enough, although the World Heritage Site does not have any specific legislation for protection.

About 37% of the World Heritage Site is either nature reserve or national park, and the most areas also belong to the Natura 2000 European network of protected areas. Different protected areas have restrictions in land use, which provides protection to geological formations, flora and fauna.

The remaining 63 % of the World Heritage Site does not have same level of protection, but the national legislation in Sweden and Finland provide opportunities to protect the area’s integrity. The High Coast is an area of national interest, which gives additional protection to the natural and recreational values of the area. In the Kvarken archipelago, the World Heritage area is considered in the Ostrobothnia’s regional land use plan. The Kvarken Archipelago is also a development area for tourism and recreation in the land use plan.

What is threatening our World Heritage?

The land uplift phenomenon will continue for several thousand years and the traces of the latest Ice Age are in good condition. Only a major natural disaster or extensive exploitation of nature could destroy our World Heritage Site. Luckily natural catastrophes, such as violent earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, are unlikely in Sweden and Finland.

Rising sea levels affect the visible land uplift in the coastal landscape. This means that we see less new land because sea level rises. Similarly, climate change will also threaten the biological values of the World Heritage Site, because water becomes murkier, less salty and temperature rises. But global warming is not a threat to the land uplift phenomenon itself, because it does not affect the geological process.

Other potential threats in the future could be major building projects or dredging that could destroy the outstanding geological formations or scenery. Increasing visitor numbers, eutrophication or environmental toxins threaten also both biological and cultural values.

The threats can be addressed with the national legislation, strategic planning and actions that aim to improve knowledge and awareness of the site’s values among authorities, stakeholders and the local population.

Sustainability in our World Heritage Site

To offer the visitors the possibility to experience the World Heritage Site in a sustainable way, we maintain the visitor sites and trails. 

We also want to inspire the visitors, locals and local businesses to appreciate and protect the World Heritage. One way to inspire is to spread the knowledge of how special our World Heritage Site is. We educate land use planners so that they consider the outstanding geology in their work. The younger generations also get World Heritage education, so they learn to value the natural heritage already from a young age.