Lapponian Area (66°50'N-67°48'N, 16°05'E- 20°25'E) is a World Heritage Site which lies in Norrbotten county, in the circumpolar zone of northern Sweden. It stretches from the center of the county over the mountain range to the west, as far as the Norwegian boundary. It comprises the municipalities of Göllivare, Jokkmokk and Arjeplog and the major town is Kiruna, to the north-east. Access is by air to Kiruna and Göllivare, and to Staloluokta in the center of Padjelanta National Park. The region is well connected by train and road links, although no road access exists in the interior of the nominated area, apart from a public road through Stora Sjöfallet.
Date and History of Establishment
The site includes four national parks established under the provisions of the 1909 Nature Protection Act: Sarek National Park and Stora Sjöfallet National Park (1909), Muddus National Park (1941) and Padjelanta National Park (1962), and two nature reserves established under the provisions of the 1964 Nature Conservation Act: Sjaunja (1986) and Stubba (1988). In total, 95% of the site is protected as national park or nature reserve. In addition, the site contains the Sulitema Glacier area, the Rapa Valley Delta and the Tjuolta Valley, these being protected under the 1987 Natural Resources Act. The area contains two Wetlands of International Importance recognized under the Ramsar Convention: 1,886 square kilometers (km2) of mire complex in the Sjaunja Nature Reserve, and the Rapa Valley Delta in Sarek National Park. Sarek, Padjelanta and Muddus national parks were the Council of Europe's European Diploma, Category A in 1967, and this has been subsequently renewed every five years.
Inscribed as a mixed natural/cultural World Heritage property in 1996.
Approximately 940,000 hectares (ha):
- Muddus National Park 50,000 ha
- Padjelanta National Park 198,400 ha
- Sarek National Park 197,000 ha
- Stora-Sjöfallet National Park128,000 ha
- Sjaunja Nature Reserve 285,000 ha
- Stubba Nature Reserve 35,000 ha
- Sulitelma Glacier area 23,000 ha
- Rapa Valley Delta area 2,000 ha
- Tjuolta Valley area 20,000 ha
99% State, the remainder privately owned.
600 meters (m) to 2,016 m at Mount Akka in Stora Sjöfallet National Park.
The area contains two landscape types: an eastern lowland area of Archaean geological origin, and a western mountainous landscape, covering two-thirds of the area. The former was created more recently and comprises part of the Swedish-Norwegian Scandes. Glacial activity has had a major influence on the development of the landscape, and the current complement of flora and fauna are evidence of colonization following the last glacial retreat 9,000 years ago. The Nordic alpine landscape of Sarek and Stora Sjöfallet national parks has high, steep mountains, deep valleys and powerful rivers. It contains more than 200 peaks over 1,800 m and some 100 glaciers. Padjelanta consists of a plateau surrounding the large lakes Vastenjaure and Virihaure, the latter known as "Sweden's most beautiful lake". The lowland of the Sjaunja and Muddus, to the east consist of a monadnock plain, that is to say a wide plain with isolated low, conical hills, covered by taiga vegetation and lakes.
The nominated area contains entire protected river systems such as the Vuojat"tno, Rapa"tno and Muddusjokk rivers and the Rapa River Delta in the Laitaure Lake. Glacial activity has had a major influence on the development of the landscape including notable geological features such as deep canyons or kursu valleys with nearly vertical walls over 100 m in height cut by melt water, sandurs (outwash plains), boulder hollows, tundra polygons, U-valleys, glacial cirques and moraines, talus accumulations, drumlins, weathering phenomena and palsa bogs.
In the western zone the climate is cold and oceanic with the highest amount of precipitation in the mountain areas directly exposed to western winds. To the east there is less precipitation and the climate is more continental.
Pristine pine and fir forests cover approximately 100,000 ha and a variety of swamp types cover another 100,000 ha, the latter being the largest untouched mire complex in Western Europe. Botanically this in one of the most interesting mountainous regions of Sweden, containing a rich flora in the alpine mountains. The Padjelanta alpine meadows and particularly Jeknaffo mountain support scarce species such as Potentilla hypartica and Arenaria humifusa (R). The lowland (taiga) in the east comprises a plain with flat-topped hills covered by taiga vegetation with large open areas. The oldest trees of the pine forests of Muddus are approximately 700 years old.
The fauna comprises globally threatened species such as wolverine Gulo gulo (V), otter Lutra lutra (V) and white-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla (V). Other important species are: brown bear Ursus arctos, lynx Felis lynx, Artic fox Alopes lagopus, magnificent moose Alces alces, golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos, whooper swan Cygnus cygnus, gyrfalcon Falco rusticulus and peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus. Twenty five mammal species are found in the area.
The bog surrounding the central lake in Muddus, Muddusjaure, supports a great variety of birds. Accordingly, a large area has been set aside as a bird sanctuary, with entry prohibited. In the Sjaunja mires more than 150 bird species have been observed, at least 100 of which have been confirmed as breeding.
This is the homeland of the Saami, and the landscape has been shaped by their culture and traditional activities, such as reindeer herding.
Local Human Population
The area is inhabited by the Saami who arrived 4,000-5,000 years ago, and who still retain much of their distinctive culture. The reindeer-herding is organized into seven reindeer husbandry districts, or Saami villages, six located in the mountains (Mellanbyn, Sörkaitum, Sirkas, Jåkkåkaska, Tuorpon and Luokta-Mavas) and one located in the forest (G"llivare). Some 200-250 Saami, with around 30-35,000 reindeer, use this area for herding and grazing. Saami are nomadic and live in the mountains only during the summer. The taiga is uninhabited, and there are no permanently settlements throughout the area.
The rights of the Saami to land, water, fishing and hunting are legally regulated and protected.
Visitors and Visitor Facilities
The facilities and services for visitors are very limited, as the aim is to preserve the wilderness character of the area. Facilities consist of some tracks and overnight cabins, for example in Muddus National Park and Padjelanta National Park, but there are no tourist facilities in Sarek National Park. A public road runs through Stora-Sjöfallet National Park, which has hotel facilities located at Saltoluokta, Ritjemjåmkk and Vietas.
The first tourist came to the area at the end of the last century. The number of visitors remains very low, about 2,000 a year in Sarek and Muddus, 4,000 in Padjelanta and a few hundred in Sjaunja. The Stora Sjöfallet area, which is easier to reach and with more tourist facilities, receives about 70,000 visitors a year.
Scientific Research and Facilities
There appears to be no scientific facilities. However, a great amount of scientific research has been done during the last 100 years on the geology, hydrology, botany and zoology of the area, following Carolus Linnaeus' 1732 expedition to Lapland.
Contains areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance, such as the ancient coniferous forests, pristine rivers and lakes, mountain plateaus, peaks and glaciers, river valleys and deltas, and extensive uninhabited taiga. Contains well preserved natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, and for globally threatened species.
The responsible national body is the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, which funds, supervises and compiles management plans for the national parks. The County Administration of Norrbotten provides general administration, supervision and implements the management plans. Field management is handled by its Mountain Branch at Jokkmokk.
According to the Swedish Nature Conservation Act, national parks lie on state-owned land and consist of large untouched areas representing different types of Swedish landscape with access for outdoor recreational purposes. Each national park has special regulations. On the other hand, nature reserves represent a more flexible form of protection which can vary in character, size and purpose, and which can be located either on privately or publicly owned land.
Management plans were approved by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency for Muddus and Padjelanta national parks in 1993, and are under preparation for Sarek and Stora Sjöfallet. These are scheduled for completion by 1995-96. There are some management measures specified in the establishment provisions for Sjaunja and Stubba nature reserves.
The nominated area is primarily preserved and managed as a wilderness area. Therefore very little is done to facilitate access, Sarek National Park in particular being extremely inaccessible. High priority is given to the protection of carnivores such as brown bear, wolverine and lynx, through anti-poaching measures.
The Saami people's rights to land and water for reindeer husbandry, and for hunting and fishing are regulated by law. The first law dates from 1886 and the present "Reindeer Husbandry Act" from 1971. They have also special rights for the use of motor vehicles. Apart from the Saami, hunting, fishing and use of motor vehicles is strictly regulated. Other kind of uses which impact neighboring land, such as forestry, new roads, hydroelectric power developments and mines are forbidden.
There is a regional habitat monitoring program in Norrbotten county as part of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's national monitoring program. Important parameters include global climate change, acid rain, the impact of reindeer herding on vegetation and changes in the fauna. The Lapponian Area will be included in the national program with special attention on monitoring: the effects of reindeer grazing and trampling; the use of motor vehicles; the status of carnivores such as brown bear, wolverine and lynx; and the impact of tourism.
The nominated area is separated into two portions by a narrow strip dating from a 1919 decision of the Swedish Parliament to excise a river and lake system from the Stora Sjofallet National Park for hydro-electric development and create the Stora Lule artificial lake.
Reindeer husbandry causes some habitat alteration and impacts on parts of the landscape, for example through the building of cabins and fences. Reindeer herding is a livelihood throughout the entire area, and in some places constitutes an environmental threat mostly due to the overgrazing, trampling by reindeer and use of motorized vehicles in wilderness areas.The area is exposed to the effects of the acid rain, which will be studied through the monitoring program for the nominated area.
The County Administration has established a Mountain Branch responsible for all national parks and nature reserves of the County of Norrbotten. It includes a superintendent, 12 rangers and four other employees.
The annual budget is about SEK 10 millions.
IUCN Management Category
- Muddus NP II (National Park)
- Padjelanta NP II (National Park)
- Sarek NP II (National Park)
- Stora-Sjöfallet NP V (Protected Landscape)
- Sjaunja NR Ia (Strict Nature Reserve/Scientific Reserve)
- Stubba NR IV (Managed Nature Reserve)
- Natural World Heritage Site criteria (i), (ii) and (iii)
- Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (1995). World Heritage Convention, Natural Heritage: Sweden, The Lapponian World Heritage Area. Precious Nature-Saami Culture. Proposal for World Heritage Nomination prepared by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. 25 pp.
- Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (1993). Swedish National Parks. Leaflet.
- Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (1989). Nationalparksplan för Sverige. Naturvårdsverket, Solna, Sweden. 126 pp.
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