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Lake Vänern Archipelago Biosphere Reserve, Sweden

The biosphere reserve comprises part of the Lake Vänern drainage basin.This lake is the largest lake in Sweden and the third largest in Europe.

Designation date: 2010


Regional network:  EuroMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 278,600 ha

    • Terrestrial core area(s): 2,709 ha
    • Limnological core area(s): 13,572 ha
    • Terrestrial buffer zone(s): 20,698 ha
    • Limnological buffer zone(s): 4,120 ha
    • Terrestrial transition zone(s): 64,000 ha
    • Limnological transition zone(s): 157,443 ha

    Location: 58°43’44"N, 13°19’16"E

    Administrative Authorities

    Götene Municipality, Lidköping Municipality and Mariestad Municipality

    Biosfärområde Vänerskärgården med Kinnekulle

    Mariestads kommun

    SE-542 86 Mariestads kommun

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    Ecological Characteristics

    The Biosphere Reserve comprises part of the Lake Vänern drainage basin. Lake Vänern is the largest lake in Sweden and the third largest lake in Europe.

    In the western part of the area is Hindens rev, a long glacial moraine that stretches 5 km in the lake. Hindens rev is part of the so called middle Swedish ice marginal zone, resulting from the receding inland ice 10,000 years ago.

    In the central parts of the biosphere reserve in Mount Kinnekulle, Västergötland’s highest plateau mountain, and Mount Lugnåsberget, one of the smallest plateau mountains in the country.

    The area also includes boulder-ridges and sand-ridges. South-west of Mount Kinnekulleis the only species-rich highly calcareous fen outside the lime-rich area, the so called Skebykärret. The area south and south-west of the plateau mountains consists of relatively flat cultural landscape, dominated by agriculture.

    Large areas of contiguous forest occur in the archipelago as well as in the southern and eastern parts of the area. Along the 350 km long Lake Vänern coast there are a number of sites with reed areas and rich bird life. Thelargest contiguous reed area is found at Lake Dättern inthe south-western part of the area. The islands and skerriesin the archipelago include extensive sandy beachesand dunes, rocks, flat-rock pine forest and bilberryspruce forest. Torsö, the largest island in Lake Vänern, is home to a wetland area.

    The area includes five rivers of which the two largest, Tidan and Lidan discharge in Lake Vänern at the two largest population centres Lidköpingand Mariestad. The three smaller rivers, Friaån,Sjöråsån and Mariedalsån run through the agricultural landscape before discharging in Lake Vänern.

    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    There are almost 60,000 people living in the biosphere reserve. The transition area is the most densely populated area within the biosphere reserve, where a little over 50,000 people lives.

    The transition area incorporates the city centres of Götene, Lidköping and Mariestad.  Lidköping and Mariestad are located on the shores of Lake Vänern, while Götene is situated along the European Route E20.

    Core areas include national park, nature reserves, Natura 2000 sites and forest habitat protection areas.

    The buffer zones consist of areas of national interest forthe purpose of naturae conservation, areas of national interest for the purpose of culture heritage conservation, Ramsar site, nature conservation areas, forest with nature conservation agreements, fish protection areasand protected shores.

    The transition area includes other land. The core areas are mainly surrounded by buffer zones which in turn are surrounded by transition areas.


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    Last updated: December 2018