What should we protect?
According to UNESCO, a World Heritage site must have an outstanding universal value (OUV), which includes the World Heritage criteria, integrity and adequate protection. The Kvarken archipelago was nominated a World Heritage site because of its exceptional geological values, which are the rapid land uplift and our post-glacial landscape.
Integrity measures the wholeness, or intactness, of a World Heritage site. The integrity is guaranteed when the site is well managed, when the development of the area is sustainable, and when it is large enough to display and to preserve its unique values. In the Kvarken archipelago, the geological values are central, but the flora, fauna and the cultural landscape are also essential parts of the integrity. Before Kvarken could receive the World Heritage status, Finland had to guarantee that all necessary conservation measures were in place through national legislation, management and information.
Are there any threats against our World Heritage site?
The geological processes and features of the site are stable and in good condition. It would take extensive exploitation or major natural disasters to destroy our World Heritage site. Global warming in itself does not pose a threat against the land uplift, but sea level rise might slow down the current effects that land uplift has on the landscape. Potential threats against the site are large construction projects which substantially changes the landscape. Also, an unchecked increase in visitors, as well as oil- and poison disasters at sea can threaten the biological and cultural values of the World Heritage site.
How is our World Heritage site being protected?
In the 1990s, long before the area was nominated a World Heritage site, about 60 % of the Kvarken archipelago was already part of national conservation programs and the Natura 2000 network, a nature conservation network within the European Union (EU). These nature protection areas have regulations in place which protect the geological formations, animals and plants in the area.
About 40 % of the Kvarken archipelago World Heritage site is not included in nature conservation program. These are mainly marine areas, but they also include large land areas on Replot and Björkö. The unique values of the site have sufficient protection in the Finnish legislation, which regulates all activity in the area. The World Heritage status have not resulted in any new legislation, nor has it made earlier nature conservation legislation any stricter.