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Kristianstads Vattenriket Biosphere Reserve

There are biosphere reserves all over the world. These areas, officially recognised by the UN agency Unesco, demonstrate how to tackle the practical challenges of combining nature conservation with development.

Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve, established in 2005, includes the greater part of the municipality of Kristianstad, from the forests to Hanöbukten Bay with the rich wetlands of the River Helge å and the town of Kristianstad at its heart.

Read about our activities in 2016 (pdf 1,2 MB)

Read about our activities in 2015 (pdf 1,2 MB)

Read about our activities in 2014 (pdf 1,3 MB)

Read about our activities in 2013 (pdf 1,1 MB)

Read about our activities in 2012 (pdf 1,7 MB)

Read about our activities in 2011 (pdf 1,4 MB)

Read about our activities in 2010 (pdf 1,2 MB)

Action plan 2016-2020 (pdf 1,2 MB)

Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve, Periodic Review 2005-2015 (pdf 4,75 MB)


The Kanalhuset outdoor museum, among the reeds beside the River Helge å, yet only 300 metres from Kristianstad railway station, is a good starting point for exploring Kristianstads Vattenrike. The Nature School also has one of its outdoor classrooms here. Photo: Sven-Erik Magnusson

Water has always played a central role in the life of Kristianstad, ever since the town was founded in the seventeenth century. Today the groundwater and the entire system of water in the River Helge å, with its lakes, watercourses and wetlands, gives the area a unique series of natural values. 

For several years many people in Kristianstads Vattenrike have been working together to promote the following goals: 

• To protect and conserve the natural and cultural heritage associated with this water system
• To strive to re-establish natural water-related values that have vanished over the years
• To perceive the water in the area as a resource that can be employed for a broad spectrum of purposes in a way that preserves its intrinsic values.

The UNESCO programme Man and Biosphere (MAB)

The aim of establishing a Biosphere Reserve is to ensure that the countryside and natural resources are used in an ecologically sustainable manner in order to preserve intrinsic natural values for future generations. 

A Biosphere Reserve serves three functions

x1. Conservation of landscapes, ecosystemes and species
Work with preserving the values in Kristianstads Vattenrike is carried out in a number of different ways. While the conservation of individual species through projects to preserve the European catfish (Silurus glanis), the white stork or threatened amphibians is important, the primary focus is on preserving the natural values
of landscapes and ecosystems through collaboration with local farmers who tend the hayfields, pastures and sandy grasslands.

Since Kristianstads Vattenrike was established, many nature conservation projects have been conducted in collaboration with the county administrative board, WWF Sweden, landowners and local associations. Broad cooperation is important for all parties.

2. xDevelopment with sustainability
Biosphere reserves contribute to the type of development that benefits nature and people alike. The introduction of biogas buses in Kristianstad, ecotourism initiatives and harvesting wetlands grass for hay are good examples of this approach. The key to sustainable development is to not to exploit the region’s natural
assets, but to nurture them.
Ecotourism is tourism that doesn’t exact a toll on the natural environment.
Several tour operators have already taken the initiative by offering trips through the wetlands. Two of the region’s ecotourism activities are the first in the province of Skåne to receive “Nature’s Best” approval, Sweden’s national seal of quality for responsible ecotourism.


x3. Logistic support
Biosphere reserves are designed to make it easier for the general public, students and researchers to explore what the area has to offer. That’s why there has been an ecomuseum here since 1989 with several visitor sites and a Nature School, and close collaboration with various universities and colleges, including
Kristianstad University. The Biosphere Reserve has some 20 visitor sites: outdoor museums, information displays, raised boardwalks and birdwatching towers. Some sites, such as the Åsums ängar and Pulken outdoor museums and Ekenabben, are specially
equipped for disabled visitors. A regularly updated website, with daily water-level reports, webcams and information about storks and resting cranes is an important support function.

Theme areas with high values

In Kristianstads Vattenrike there are many natural values worthy of conservation.
The area is full of variety and contrasts, providing a rich and changing
mosaic of natural habitats stretching from the hills to the sea.
So far, attention has mostly been devoted to the rich wetlands flanking the
River Helge å. Now, however, the focus will gradually expand to embrace more
areas of this valuable environment. Ten theme areas with high natural values
have been identified. Future work will concentrate on conserving and developing
these values in the theme areas. The outdoor museums, the Nature School and the website are all important tools for presenting and sharing this knowledge.