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Blekinge Archipelago

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Blekinge Archipelago is largely its own natural geographical region, the Blekinge rift valley terrain and oak forests. It comprises the southernmost primary rock archipelago of the Baltic while substantial parts of the archipelago and mainland coastline is wooded with broadleaved forests. The geomorphology and geology of the area in combination with the mild, coastal climate and the variatin of fresh and brakish water have created unique circumstances for a rich biological variety. The long continuity of land use has created many of the merits of the cultural landscape in the area. This is the first biosphere reserve in Sweden with focus on issues regarding the Baltic Sea.The area includes the majority of the archipleagic and coastal landscape of Blekinge.

Blekinge Archipelago covers 210 000 ha of which 156 000 ha is water and 54 000 ha is land. The coast of Blekinge is on of the most populated areas in Sweden. A total of 85 000 people live within the biosphere reserve area, and around 4 000 people live on islands with or without permanent connections to mainland. Blekinge Archipelago was nominated by UNESCO in 2011.

Landscape values
Blekinge Archipelago and coast is a small scale and diverse landscape in the Southern part of the Baltic Sea. The area has very high biological and cultural values, with little or no resemblance to any other place on Earth. The landscape is characterized by a mixture of broad leaved deciduous forest meeting the sea and extensive oak pastures. The area is one of the richest areas in Sweden in regards to the amount of large coarse trees. These large old trees constitute an indispensible life environment for many species listed as endangered on national and/or the IUCN Red list. These include insects and lichens such as the Herbit Beetle (Osmoderma eremita) and the lichen Lecanographa amylacea. Several rivers flow into the sea, such as Mörrumsån, well known for its salmon abundance. The coast is lined with islands with interesting social history, biological and geological values, both above and beneath the surface of the sea. The shallow bays of the archipelago are a required condition for the spawning grounds.

There are many ancient remains dispersed in the landscape, indicating that humans have populated the area for a long time. Trades of tradition, such as fishing and agriculture, are still important sources of income for the local people but the influence of tourism industry, outdoor activities and recreation is increasing. The traditional trade of shipbuilding is still taught at a trade school, and a few ship building businesses are still operating. It is essential to promote the possibility for locals to year-round living on the islands, as well as the sustainable use of natural resources, since this is essential in order to preserve the characteristic archipelagic and coastal landscape of Blekinge.

Science and education
The coast and archipelago are important for research and education within several areas, such as tourism, outdoor and recreation, and marine biology.


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