Haparanda skärgård national park

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One of the more recent national parks of Sweden, the Haparanda archipelago was designated as a national park by the government in 1995. The archipelago is located south of the municipalities of Kalix and Haparanda in the county of Norrbotten near the Swedish-Finnish border. The park covers an area of 60 square kilometers (23 square miles) and is the country's northernmost coastal area, dominated by flat islands with exotic dunes and vast shores.

Just south of the arctic circle, the area was covered by the last ice age, and the landscape has been shaped by the elevation of land since it ended. Land that was completely submerged 1,500 years ago continues to be exposed at a rate of 8.5 millimeters (1/3 inch) per year.

Winds and waves also shape the archipelago, which consists of two larger islands, Sandskär and Seskar Furö, plus a few smaller islands and skerries in the northernmost part of Bottenviken, which in turn makes up the northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, known as Bottniska viken in Swedish. Sandskär, the parks largest island at 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles), has been given a peculiar shape as currents have washed up a shoal of sand stretching 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) to the north in just the last few hundred years.

The flora features several unusual species, including the endemic subspecies bottnica of the artemisia campestris, which is known as field mugwort, common sagewort, pacific sagewort, or northern wormwood in English. The northern shoal of sand shelters the northeast part of Sandskär's mainland. Fine, sedimentary soil provides a home for a variety of herbs. The herbs attract larvae and other small animals, which in turn attract birds.

The unique and varied landscape, also featuring a pine forest and a primeval forest of aspen in the heart of Sandskär growing on top of what used to be a drifting terrain of dunes, is a rest stop for migrating birds; over 230 species have been observed in the park including eider, wryneck, greenish warbler, and grouse. Over 80 species nest in the park, and to protect them, access to some islands is prohibited from May 1 to July 31.

The shallow waters around the islands make it hard to approach the islands by boat, but larger boats can come into shore at Nordrevet near the southern tip of Sandskär, where a trail leads to the Kumpula fishing village, traditionally used for fishing herring, an industry that used to be vital to the entire mainland region. At its peak during the 18th century, up to a hundred boats with crews of two or three people each were involved in the effort during a few weeks in the summer. The village harbor can now accommodate boats with a draught of up to two meters (6 feet 6 inches).

By the harbor, there is also visitor information, cabins, a camping site, and a sauna. Cabins feature a simple gas stove, plates, silverware, glasses, and cooking implements and cost 300 SEK per night plus a 100 SEK key deposit. Visitors should bring their own sheets (sleeping bags are not recommended) and take their trash when they leave. There is no electricity or telephone.

South from the village is a grain storage shed that was moved there from the mainland and converted into a small chapel in the middle of the 18th century as a result of a shift in power in Stockholm, which sought to strengthen the fishing industry. A few fishermen are buried at the site.

A trail also leads up from the village through the center of the island and along the shoal of sand to Norra Sandudden, the islands northern tip. Information regarding boat tours to the islands arranged by a company called Bosmina is provided by the travel agency in Haparanda.

The mosquitoes are aggressive, plentiful and enormous. Beware.

Following is a translation of the conditions governing Haparanda skärgård national park. I am neither a lawyer, nor a translator. This is for educational purposes only. Do not blame me if you get in trouble, yada, yada. The conditions translated into the text below apply only to Haparanda skärgård. Other national parks have other conditions specified for them.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's regulations for Haparanda skärgård National Park SNFS (1995:4)

Supported by 4 § section one of the national park ordinance (1987:938) and after consultation with the County Administrative Board in the County of Norrbotten, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency prescribes the following regulations for Haparanda skärgård National Park according to 5 § section two of the nature conservation act (1964:822).

Within the national park it is forbidden to

Regulations for the announcement of exceptions from the stated regulations are found in 5 § of the national park ordinance (1987:938).

Without hindrance by the above prohibitions, it is permissible

  • for staff authorized by the national park administration to conduct measures according to determined plan of maintenance
  • for an official in matters concerning issues of the police, healthcare, or the national park management to use appropriate motor vehicle and dog; notification of mentioned matters shall be made to the national park administration if possible before conduct, otherwise as soon as possible upon completion of the mission
  • conduct fishing
  • conduct ornithological studies according to programs approved by the County Administrative board and in doing so temporarily using nets for catching birds: the public shall be informed of the nets' purpose
  • maintain existing harbor facilities; for digging and dredging, exception from the regulations must be obtained from the County Administrative Board
  • use house lot; the house lot is to be well-kept and free from stocked items and activities that are not in line with traditional use
  • maintain and, when necessary, change maritime navigation marks

Passing into law

SNFS 1995:4

This public notice will pass into law two weeks after the day the notice according to information stated on it is released from printing. (Released from printing May 24, 1995.)

Information synthesized from www.environ.se and www.bosmina.bd.se.

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