Location and Values: The High Coast in Sweden and the Kvarken Archipelago in Finland are located on opposite sides of the Gulf of Bothnia, a northerly extension of the Baltic Sea. This area is remarkable because of the rate at which the land is lifting and emerging from the sea as the weight of glacial ice that used to cover the area has been reduced through melting of the ice sheet in a warming climate over the past 10 – 24,000 years. The uplift is continuing to this day, and measurements indicate a rise of 285 m over 9,600 years, equivalent to an average 3 cm per annum. This is reckoned to be amongst the highest rates of uplift in the world. As a result of this uplift islands appear and unite, peninsulas expand, and lakes evolve from bays and develop into marshes and peat fens over relatively short periods of time.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of the High Coast – Kvarken Archipelago is ‘good’. The IUCN report notes that the geological features of the site (which provide the basis for its world heritage status) are secure, but raises questions over threats facing the Baltic Sea as a whole, affecting biodiversity in the marine environment. The report notes that the marine environment is already showing signs of deterioration and there is a need for additional funding and better trans-boundary coordination to address these threats.
UNESCO Official Website
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description