Vindelälven-Juhtatdahka and Voxnadalen become new biosphere reserves

Published 2 July 2019 in:

In Vindelälven. Photo: Ulf Lundin/

On 19 June 2019, Vindelälven-Juhtatdahka and Voxnadalen became UNESCO designated biosphere reserves. Sweden now has a total of seven biosphere reserves, comprising seven per cent of Sweden’s surface area.

Biosphere reserves encourage sustainable development by being model areas in which new solutions are developed through local collaboration. In biosphere reserves, new solutions are tested and a scientific basis is created to provide examples of how to reconcile the conservation of natural areas with human activities.

UNESCO biosphere reserves around the world aim to improve the relationship between people and their environments, and create sustainable societies. Until recently, Sweden has had five UNESCO biosphere reserves: Kristianstad Vattenrike, Lake Vänern Archipelago, Blekinge Archipelago, Nedre Dalälven River Landscape and East Vättern Scarp landscape.

“Local community ownership and people’s active participation are the recipe for successful conservation and sustainable use of natural and cultural resources”

“UNESCO’s designation of two new Swedish biosphere reserves is a recognition of years of local effort and commitment by many people to strengthen sustainable local and regional development,” says Minister for Environment and Climate Isabella Lövin.

Vindelälven-Juhtatdahka in Västerbotten and Norrbotten counties will be one of the world’s most northerly biosphere reserves and one of the world’s largest by surface area, at 1.3 million hectares. The area includes 34 per cent protected natural environments, great biological diversity and a wide variety of natural resources. It also includes areas of unique and rich Sami and Swedish cultural heritage. This biosphere reserve will encourage new solutions for promoting cultural diversity, sustainable fisheries and reindeer husbandry, and sustainable tourism.

The 341 000-hectare Voxnadalen area in Gävleborg contains unique natural and cultural environments created by traditional practices, including the transhumance practice of summer farming. The area includes the Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as Hamra National Park, a cultural reserve, and several nature reserves and Natura 2000 sites. One of the goals in Voxnadalen is to best utilise all the resources and traditional knowledge of the unique Hälsingland countryside along Voxan River. A further goal is to promote local partnerships, crossing both geographical and administrative boundaries, that will drive the area’s long-term sustainable development.