High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago

High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago

The Kvarken Archipelago (Finland) and the High Coast (Sweden) are situated in the Gulf of Bothnia, a northern extension of the Baltic Sea. The 5,600 islands of the Kvarken Archipelago feature unusual ridged washboard moraines, ‘De Geer moraines’, formed by the melting of the continental ice sheet, 10,000 to 24,000 years ago. The Archipelago is continuously rising from the sea in a process of rapid glacio-isostatic uplift, whereby the land, previously weighed down under the weight of a glacier, lifts at rates that are among the highest in the world. As a consequence islands appear and unite, peninsulas expand, and lakes evolve from bays and develop into marshes and peat fens. The High Coast has also been largely shaped by the combined processes of glaciation, glacial retreat and the emergence of new land from the sea. Since the last retreat of the ice from the High Coast 9,600 years ago, the uplift has been in the order of 285 m which is the highest known ''rebound''. The site affords outstanding opportunities for the understanding of the important processes that formed the glaciated and land uplift areas of the Earth''s surface.

Haute Côte / Archipel de Kvarken

L’archipel de Kvarken (Finlande) et la Haute côte (Suède) sont situés dans le golfe de Botnie, qui prolonge la mer Baltique vers le nord. Les 5 600 îles et îlots se singularisent principalement par les curieuses moraines à crête bosselées, ou moraines de Geer, formées par la fonte de la nappe de glace continentale composées il y a entre 10 000 et 24 000 ans. L’archipel de Kvarken s’élève de manière continue du niveau de la mer du fait d’un relèvement glacio-isostatique rapide, lorsqu’une terre précédemment comprimée par le poids d’un glacier se relève après la disparition de ce dernier, fait de ce taux de relèvement dans la région l’un des plus élevés au monde. Du fait de l’avancée du littoral, des îles apparaissent et s’unissent, des péninsules grandissent, des lacs se forment depuis les baies et deviennent des marais et des fagnes tourbeuses. La Haute côte a aussi été largement façonnée par l’association de processus de glaciation, de recul des glaciers et d''émergence de nouvelles terres. Depuis le retrait final des glaces de la Haute côte, il y a 9 600 ans, le relèvement est de l''ordre de 285 m, ce qui correspond au « rebond » manifeste le plus important jamais observé. La Haute côte est un site exceptionnel pour la compréhension des processus importants qui ont formé les glaciers et les zones de relèvement de la surface de la Terre.

أرخبيل كفاركن / الساحل العالي

يقع أرخبيل كفاركن في فنلندا والساحل العالي (في السويد) في خليج بوتنيا الذي يمتدّ في بحر البلطيق بالشمال. وتتميّز بصورة خاصة الخمسة آلاف وستمائة جزيرة، كبيرة منها وصغيرة، بجُرافات غريبة نادرة ذات قمم محدّبة أو جُرافات "غير" التي تتشكّل نتيجة ذوبان طبقات جليد القارات التي كانت قد تكوّنت منذ فترة تتراوح بين 000 10 و000 24 عام. ويرتفع أرخبيل كفاركن عن مستوى البحر بصوة مستمرة نتيجة الارتفاع الجليدي التضاغطي السريع عندما ترتفع مساحة من الأرض سبقَ أن انضغطت بفعل ثقل ركام الثلوج المجلّدة، بعد زوال هذا الأخير، مما يجعل نسبة الارتفاع في المنطقة من أكثر النسب ارتفاعاً في العالم. وبفعل حركة مَدّ الشاطئ، تبرز جزر وتلتحم، وتنمو شبه جزر، وتتكوّن بحيرات من الخلجان فتصبح مستنقعات عادية ومستنقعات عالية. وتشكّل الساحل العالي أيضاً بفعل مجموعة عوامل التثليج، وتراجع الثلج المجلّد، وبروز مساحات أرض جديدة. ومنذ التراجع النهائي لجليد الساحل العالي منذ 9600 سنة، بلغ الارتفاع 285 متراً، ممّا يشكّل وثبةً ظاهرةً هي الأهمّ. ويشكّل الساحل العالي موقعاً مميزاً لفهم التطورات الهامة التي شكّلت ركام الثلوج المجلّدة ومناطق الارتفاع عن سطح الأرض.

source: UNESCO/ERI

高海岸∕瓦尔肯群岛

高海岸位于波的尼亚湾西海滨,是波罗的海向北延伸的一部分。这片海岸面积为142 500公顷,其中80 000公顷为海洋部分,有大量的近海群岛。由于冰河作用、冰川消融及海面新陆地抬升的共同作用,形成了该地区一系列的湖泊、海湾和高达350米的低丘等不规则地形。自9 600年前冰川从高海岸最后消融以来,陆地抬升最高达285米,这就是著名的“反弹”。高海岸遗址为认识地球表面冰冻和陆地抬升区域形成的重要过程提供了极好的机会。 “瓦尔肯群岛”(2006年加入到世界遗产的高海岸项目中)有5 600个群岛和小岛,总面积194 400公顷(15%为陆地,85%为海洋)。地面主要为10 000至24 000年前大陆冰层融化形成的不规则脊状延伸的洗衣板冰碛,“DeGreer冰碛”。在冰川快速均衡抬升过程中,小岛不断地从海面升起,原来被冰川压迫而下沉的大陆,逐渐以世界最快的速度抬升。海岸线不断推进,岛屿慢慢形成并连结在一起,半岛也在扩张,湖泊由海湾演变而来,继而成为块状沼泽与湿地。瓦尔肯是研究地壳均衡现象的“典型区域”;人们正是从此地开始认识并研究这种现象的。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Архипелаг Кваркен / «Высокий берег» (Ботнический залив)

“Высокий берег” находится на западном побережье Ботнического залива, который образует северное продолжение Балтийского моря. Общая площадь этой территории составляет 142,5 тыс. га, включая прилегающую акваторию 80 тыс. га вместе с прибрежными островами. Местный ландшафт, с его пересеченным рельефом, цепочками озер, заливами и плоскими холмами высотой до 350 м, был в основном сформирован под воздействием процессов оледенения, таяния ледника, поднятия территории и отступания берега моря. “Высокий берег” освободился ото льда 9,6 тыс. лет назад, и с тех пор поднятие территории составило примерно 285 м, что является максимальным показателем, зафиксированным на сегодняшний день. “Высокий берег” – это уникальная местность, где можно изучать геологические процессы, происходящие при оледенении и возвышении земной поверхности. Архипелаг Кваркен (добавлен в 2006 г. в качестве расширения объекта «Высокий берег») включает 5 600 островов и островков и в сумме занимает площадь 194 400 га (15% суша и 85% акватория). Здесь можно увидеть необычную хребтообразную морену - "De Greer moraines", образовавшуюся в результате таяния континентального ледяного щита 10-24 тыс. лет назад. Архипелаг постоянно возвышается над уровнем моря, поскольку суша, находившаяся ранее под гнетом толщи льда, поднимается со скоростью, признанной одной из самых высоких для подобного рода феноменов. В процессе роста береговой линии появляются новые острова и объединяются уже существовавшие, увеличиваются полуострова, заливы трансформируются в озера, которые со временем заболачиваются. Кваркен – отличный полигон для изучения изостатического поднятия суши, – явления, впервые выявленного именно здесь.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Costa Alta / Archipiélago Kvarken

La Costa Alta y el archipiélago de Kvarken están situados en el golfo de Botnia, la prolongación septentrional del Mar Báltico. Sus 5.600 islas e islotes se caracterizan principalmente por la presencia de morrenas con cresta ondulada, o morrenas de Geer, formadas por el derretimiento del casquete de hielo continental sobrevenido unos 10.000 a 24.000 años atrás. En el archipiélago emergen continuamente nuevas islas del mar debido a una elevación glacio-isostática rápida, fenómeno que se produce cuando los terrenos comprimidos por el peso de un glaciar se elevan al derretirse éste. El índice de elevación del archipiélago es uno de los más altos del mundo. Como consecuencia del avance de las tierras del litoral, las islas surgen de las aguas y se unen, la superficie de las penínsulas se agranda y las bahías acaban formando lagos, que después se convierten en marismas y turberas pantanosas. La Costa Alta también se ha configurado en gran medida por la conjunción de la glaciación, el retroceso de los glaciares y la emergencia de nuevas tierras. Desde que los hielos se retiraron definitivamente de la Costa Alta –hace 9.600 años aproximadamente– la elevación ha alcanzado unos 285 metros, lo cual representa el mayor “repunte” de terrenos observado hasta ahora. La Costa Alta es un sitio excepcional para entender los procesos geológicos que han conducido a la formación de los glaciares y de las zonas de elevación de la superficie de la Tierra.

source: UNESCO/ERI

ハイ・コースト/クヴァルケン群島

source: NFUAJ

Hoge kust en Kvarken archipel

De Hoge kust (Zweden) en Kvarken archipel (Finland) bevinden zich in de Botnische Golf. De Kvarken archipel omvat 5.600 eilanden die bijzondere, geribbelde wasbordmorenen tonen. De archipel zit door het continu stijgen van de zee in een proces waarbij het door de gletsjer eerder naar beneden gedrukte land, nu krachtig omhoogkomt. Hierdoor voegen eilanden zich samen, vergroten schiereilanden en evolueren baaimeren tot moerassen en turfvennen. De Hoge Kust is ook grotendeels gevormd door gecombineerde glaciatieprocessen, ijssmelting en de opkomst van nieuw land in de zee. Sinds de laatste ijsterugtrekking van zo'n 9.600 jaar geleden, is het land zo'n 285 meter omhoog gekomen. Dit proces staat ook bekend onder de naam post-glaciale bodembeweging.

Source: unesco.nl

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Björköby - Finland © GTK
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The High Coast in Sweden and the Kvarken Archipelago in Finland are situated on opposite sides of the Gulf of Bothnia, in the northern part of the Baltic Sea. This vast area of 346,434 ha (of which about 100,700 ha are terrestrial) is where high meets low: the High Coast’s hilly scenery with high islands, steep shores, smooth cliffs, and deep inlets is a complete contrast to the Kvarken Archipelago with its thousands of low‐lying islands, shallow bays, moraine ridges and massive boulder fields. This part of the world has experienced several Ice Ages during the last 2‐3 million years and has been under the centre of the continental ice sheet a number of times. Present land uplift started when the ice began to melt about 18,000 years ago and the earth’s crust was gradually released from the weight of the ice.

The landscape of the High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago today is mainly the result of the last Ice Age and the impact of the sea and the succession of vegetation. After the last glaciation, the land has elevated a total of 800 metres, with the highest uplift in the world after the last Ice Age recorded here. For the past 10,500 years, the land has been rising at around 0.9 m per century, a phenomenon that can be observed in a human lifetime and is expected to continue. Continual elevation of the land results in the emergence of new islands and distinctive glacial landforms, while inlets become progressively cut off from the sea, transforming them into estuaries and ultimately lakes.

The Baltic Sea has undergone dramatic changes since the last Ice Age, including a series of transitions from marine water to freshwater and then to brackish water, consequently causing subsequent changes in plant and animal life. This serial transboundary property serves as an outstanding example of the continuity of this change with dynamic ongoing geological processes forming the land- and seascape, including interesting interactions with biological processes and ecosystem development.

Criterion (viii): The High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago is of exceptional geological value for two main reasons. First, both areas have some of the highest rates of isostatic uplift in the world, meaning that the land still continues to rise in elevation following the retreat of the last inland ice sheet, with around 290 m of land uplift recorded over the past 10,500 years. The uplift is ongoing and is associated with major changes in the water bodies in post-glacial times. This phenomenon was first recognized and studied here, making the property a key area for understanding the processes of crustal response to the melting of the continental ice sheet. Second, the Kvarken Archipelago, with its 5,600 islands and surrounding sea, possesses a distinctive array of glacial depositional formations, such as De Geer moraines, which add to the variety of glacial land- and seascape features in the region. It is a global, exceptional and diverse area for studying moraine archipelagos. The High Coast and the Kvarken Archipelago represent complementary examples of post-glacial uplifting landscapes.

Integrity

The boundaries of this serial property comprise the areas with the most outstanding geological and geomorphological attributes of the site. The boundaries of the High Coast in Sweden encompass the principal area of national conservation interest, extending inland to include the full zonation of uplifted land and some of the highest shoreline, while excluding areas under large-scale forestry management. Seaward, the boundary incorporates key offshore islands and marine areas that are a logical extension of the topographic continuum of uplifted land surface, thus taking account of ongoing geological processes.

The Kvarken Archipelago in Finland includes two separate areas of land and sea: the most superlative geological terrestrial formations, formations lying in the shallow sea, as well as the majority of the moraine features are included. While the geological boundaries of the property do not coincide with legal or administrative boundaries, the science behind their selection is justified.

Note that about 71% of the property is sea. In the High Coast the sea is deep (as much as 293 m), while in the Kvarken Archipelago the sea is very shallow (with mean depth less than 10 m). Underwater geological formations have not been widely affected by erosion or processes such as colonization by vegetation or human activity. For the terrestrial portion, however, several large-scale development projects have been noted as issues which could affect the integrity of the property. While there is a small resident human population in the property (around 4,500 in the High Coast and 2,500 in the Kvarken Archipelago), people are engaged in small-scale traditional farming, forestry and fishing, all of which have negligible impact on geological values.

Protection and management requirements

In both Sweden and Finland, World Heritage management issues are dealt with at regional level, by established bodies with representatives from authorities, municipalities and local stakeholders. The relevant regional authorities and municipalities in Sweden and Finland have established a transnational consultative body, mainly to ensure that all three core areas of this serial transnational site have a joint management strategy for the property as a whole.

There is no particular legislation that directly protects the Outstanding Universal Values of the High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago, but the general environmental national legislation gives a satisfactory indirect protection of the entire property. About 37% of the property is either nature reserve or national park, and the site also belongs to the Natura 2000 European network of protected areas. All these different kinds of protected areas have regulations restricting land use, which provide a good level of protection to geological formations, as well as to flora and fauna. The remaining parts, about 63% of the property, do not have the same level of protection, but the national legislation gives possibilities for safeguarding the integrity of the property. Furthermore, the High Coast is a landscape of national interest, which gives the recreational and nature conservation values of the property additional legal protection and serves as guidance for societal development. In the Kvarken Archipelago, a regional land use plan protects its Outstanding Universal Value, as well as recognizes geological values in the zone between the two core areas on the Finnish side.

The effective management of the property needs to further develop an ecosystem approach that integrates the management of the protected areas with other key activities taking place on the property, such as infrastructural development of communities and industries, tourism, fishery and shipping.

Potential threats in the future are major building projects that could destroy some part of outstanding geological features or have a severe impact on the important views of the property. Increasing visitor pressure and an oil or chemical spill in the sea are potential threats to the biological and cultural values. Global warming is not a threat to the land uplift phenomenon itself, as it will not affect the geological process. However, rising sea levels would influence the visible effects of land uplift in the coastal landscape, by reducing the area of new land emerging from the sea each year. Natural catastrophes, such as violent earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, are unlikely in Sweden and Finland.

All threats are addressed by implementing the national legislation, strategic planning measures and actions that aim to improve knowledge and awareness of the property values among authorities, stakeholders and the local population.

Long Description

The site lies within the specific area known as the 'High Coast' of Sweden, and is located on the west shore of the southern Gulf of Bothnia, a northern extension of the Baltic Sea. The High Coast is a mosaic of human and natural landscapes with agriculture, fishing and tourism as the main economic activities. It has a long history of human use dating from late Stone Age dwellings and remains of an Iron Age village.

Physically, the archipelago has irregular topography with a series of lakes, inlets and flat hills rising to 350 m. Vegetation is typical of the west Eurasian taiga with a mix of alpine, boreal forest and wetland communities. It displays marked altitudinal zonation and great spatial variability, with high floristic diversity, due to the complex pattern of soils and substrate on an uplifted, high-relief land surface. The offshore islets support small seabird populations. The main natural values of the High Coast are geological and relate to the glacial history of the area. Since the retreat of the last ice cap, 18,000-9600 BP, the land began to uplift. The geomorphology of the region is largely shaped by the combined processes of glaciation, glacial retreat and the emergence of new land from the sea which continues today at a rate of 0.9 m per century. In conclusion, the High Coast is one of many places in the world that is experiencing uplift as a result of deglaciation. Isostatic rebound is well illustrated and the distinctiveness of the site is the extent of the total isostatic uplift which, at 294 m, exceeds others. The geological, topographical and climatic conditions also combine to make the High Coast a distinctive vegetation boundary zone, with a rare blend of southern plants with northern boreal, western oceanic and eastern continental species.

The High Coast contains large mammal species, such as bear, lynx and moose, which are widespread in Scandinavia. Whereas the coastal birdlife is typical of the region, the terrestrial birdlife is rich and varied due to the altitudinal range and topographic diversity which also provide habitats attractive to some rare birds of southern origin. Invertebrate fauna is not well known, although insects may be richer than elsewhere because of the floristic diversity. The biological character of the marine environment is a consequence of several major controlling influences such as: brackish waters of very low salinity; the most sharply contoured submarine topography in the Baltic, extending to depths in excess of 200 m close inshore; little tidal influence, with shifting water levels determined mainly by changing weather conditions of air pressure and wind; and seasonal ice cover. The resultant mosaic of shallow, sheltered embayment and deep, open waters provides a range of habitats for a mix of marine, brackish and freshwater species, low in species diversity but high in population numbers for some macrofauna species.

The special feature of the marine realm, imparting the greatest scientific significance, represents the submarine extension of the topographical continuum of landscapes undergoing isostatic uplift.

Continual elevation of the land results in inlets becoming progressively cut off from the sea, transforming them into estuaries and ultimately lakes. The terrestrial influence progressively extends seawards into the Bothnian Sea. This process has major effects for the associated plants and animals that must constantly adapt to the changing environments. The whole creates a landscape of great scenic value and aesthetic appeal.

Archaeological sites, some remarkably well preserved, reveal 7,000 years of human agrarian and maritime settlement in the High Coast, all confined by the steep topography into a narrow coastal strip of 2-3 km. Displacement of coastal settlements by isostatic land uplift has created a relict cultural landscape with evidence of different peoples at successive levels above the sea. The oldest remains, from the Stone Age of 5000 BC, now stand at 150 m above sea level, and corresponding Bronze Age and Iron Age are found, respectively, at 30 m and 15 m above the present shoreline. Adaptation of peoples to conditions created by land uplift means the geological history and cultural history are, thus, closely entwined.

The remarkable imprint of 7,000 years of human occupancy on a landscape experiencing the world's highest isostatic uplift is a significant cultural heritage asset, and one that is important to preserve for future generations. However, cultural landscapes and prehistoric remains are widespread throughout Scandinavia.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC