In September 2009, 100 years after Sweden’s first national parks, Sarek and Muddus in Lapland, were created, Sweden’s first Marine National Park will be inaugurated in the Koster Islands.
Lying just a short boat ride to the west of the coastal town of Strömstad between Sweden and Norway, the Koster archipelago has two main islands, North and South Koster. Surrounded by a beautiful archipelago of smaller islands, rocks and skerries, the car-free Koster Islands are Sweden’s most westerly populated islands.
Much of the land area of North and South Koster is already protected as a Nature Reserve. The Koster Marine National Park will cover around 45,000 hectares, protecting and conserving the unique natural marine heritage of the area.
The idea behind the Koster Marine National Park is to focus on a sustainable future for the islands, recognising both the economic importance of well-managed tourism and the biodiversity of the area. Koster is one of Sweden’s most popular coastal destinations during the summer but is also home to a number of species found nowhere else in Swedish waters. The waters surrounding the islands are also a vitally important inshore fishery for species such as lobster as well as a haven for wildlife, including a colony of common seals.
With its contrasts of deep and shallow hard-bedded waters, exposed and sheltered shallows and soft seabeds, Koster is in a class of its own as an area of marine biodiversity in Sweden. The Koster Fjord is connected to the Norwegian trench, which is turn connects to the edge of the continental shelf out in the Atlantic towards Norway, creating environmental conditions similar to deep ocean trenches. In time, it is planned that the Koster Marine National Park will connect with a similar protected area around the Hvaler Islands in Norway.
The Koster Marine National Park authorities plan to work in close collaboration with island residents to develop sustainable tourism and a sustainable economy on the islands. A new visitor centre is being constructed to showcase the importance of the area and provide a valuable educational resource for locals and visitors alike.
Koster is a wonderful destination for outdoor activities and offers some of Sweden’s best opportunities for sea kayaking holidays. We offer a range of guided and self-guided sea kayaking tours in the western archipelago, including Kayaking in the Koster Archipelago, a 3-day guided tour with wild camping.
Koster has always been a beautiful area to visit. With increased protection and greater national and international awareness of the value of archipelago’s marine environment, it should remain so for many years to come.
Learn more about Koster Marine National Park: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mHCSVI6biB
The Nature Travels Team