To a large extent, spatial planning in the Nordic countries is the responsibility of local government. The planning process is an act of balance between conflicting interests and targets. Should a certain natural area or an area with cultural values be kept for the future, or should it be used for housing, or for infrastructure? Some of the interests involved are local, whereas the outcome of the planning process will also often have significant impacts on natural targets. One question underlying this project is whether, and how, the nature and location of the interests involved shape the conflicts during the planning process, and the outcome. Do national interests, such as the protection of biodiversity, get the same attention in spatial planning as protection of areas for local recreation? How well are different interest represented in the planning process, and how can conflicts best be resolved? These questions are too big to be answered once and for all by one project of modest size, but it is our hope that the report will shed some light on these vital issues.
This project has been funded and managed in a cooperation between two Nordic working groups, the NME (Nordic Working Group for Environment and Economy) and the NBM (Nordic Working Group for Biodiversity). The report has been prepared by PlanMiljø A/S. It contains a policy brief and 12 case studies. The policy brief includes a description of the government structure for spatial planning in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as relevant policy strategies. It ends up in a set of eight policy recommendations. The 12 case studies cover all four countries and the three policy areas, and help illuminate conflicts, dilemmas, and possible solutions.
NME and NBM members have provided comments on earlier drafts. The authors of the report are responsible for the content as well as the assessments and recommendations, which do not necessarily reflect the views of the two working groups or the positions of the governments in the Nordic countries.
Bent Arne Sæther
Chair of the Nordic Working Group for Environment and Economy
Land-use planning requires a subtle balance between commercial, environmental and societal interests. The conflicting interests of various stakeholders, as well as of local and national governments, are apparent across the Nordic countries. These conflicts often occur at the expense of environmental planning, understood broadly in terms of natural, cultural and recreational values.
This policy brief looks into these land-use conflicts in order to illuminate why these conflicts are emerging and which policy instruments can be utilised to avoid or ease these conflicts. The policy brief is based on 12 cases of land-use conflicts and policy instruments, as well as on a mapping of policies that affect local land-use planning.
The governance structure for spatial planning differs slightly between the Nordic countries. A common feature is that the municipalities are responsible for the local direction of land-use planning.
The policy landscape that the municipalities have to navigate is complex. Land use acts outline what can be built and where. These are supplemented with environmental policies that protect nature in general along with certain specific types of nature. There are also other types of policies, such as tourism strategies and cultural heritage acts, which also affect land-use planning. The policy landscape for land-use planning consists of both softer policies such as strategy documents and harder policies such as regulation and legislation. The type of policy determines what space is left for the municipalities to manoeuvre in.
One line of conflict in land-use planning is between the pursuit of economic revenue and the preservation of natural, cultural and recreational values. Municipalities are often driven to create jobs and attract companies. Companies are given certain locations, the tourism industry is supported by the development of a ski resort, and the mining industry is supported through environmental permits.
The value of nature is not measured in economic terms, but it can be measured in votes if the local nature is valued by voters.
Environmental policies are in place to ensure balanced environmental planning, but there also needs to be sufficient documentation of harm to the environment. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) can constitute such documentation, as EIAs establish a basis for decisions.
It is essential that EIAs include all relevant parameters. This can be ensured by developing biodiversity maps and by allowing EIAs to be qualified by experts and through public consultations. Another important policy tool is economic incentives for the municipalities to take natural, cultural and recreational values into account. For example, in Sweden the LONA and LOVA funds have been established solely to co-finance the municipalities’ local environmental planning projects and tools.
Another line of conflict exists between whether land is to be reserved for nature or used for housing and infrastructure. Urbanisation around the larger cities requires more roads and other types of infrastructure, as well as housing, in particular affordable housing that ensures diversity in the larger cities. In Copenhagen, for example, this demand for housing and historical zoning plans has led to the construction of an area of housing in the Amager Fælled green area. The design and construction consortium was well aware of the high level of resistance among nature protection associations and citizens, so it initiated a stakeholder engagement process. As a result, biodiversity and nature are taken into account in the design, which has eased the conflict even if it has not resolved it. There are many examples that illustrate how dialogue and public consultation can contribute to creating consensus among stakeholders with conflicting interests.
Local land-use planning requires a subtle balance between many, often conflicting, interests. Will a municipality designate a limited area of land for industrial and business use in order to ensure growth and tax income, or will it use it to build new housing and facilities for a growing urban population or to conserve green areas for biodiversity and recreation? Not only do municipalities have to strike a balance between different interests but they often have to navigate complex regulations as well. Land use acts and environmental acts relating to water, nature, forests and biodiversity also must be complied with. Land-use planning is similarly regulated by acts of law regarding local development, nature-based tourism and cultural heritage.
This policy brief examines regulation that relates to nature planning in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. “Nature planning” is understood to refer to how nature areas are managed and used for biodiversity, cultural or recreational purposes.
Across the Nordics, the needs to comply with EU Directives and policies on environmental areas, as well as the UN Conventions on Biodiversity, are having a significant effect on land-use planning.
The national strategies for biodiversity are presented for each country and their regulations on spatial planning at the national, regional and local levels are accounted for.
Att planera markanvändning är en ständig balansgång mellan kommersiella och miljömässiga värden. I Norden är det tydligt att det finns vitt skilda intressen hos olika aktörer såväl som hos lokala och nationella styrande organ. Konflikter som uppstår kring dessa frågor går ofta ut över miljöplanering och natur-, kultur- och rekreationsvärden
Denna översikt ger en inblick i konflikter som handlar om markanvändning. Den belyser varför dessa konflikter uppstår och vilka politiska verktyg som kan användas för att undvika eller lindra konflikt. Översikten baseras på tolv exempel på fall som beskriver miljökonflikter och politiska verktyg, och en kartläggning av politik som påverkar lokal miljöplanering.
Det finns vissa skillnader i struktur och styrmedel för fysisk planering mellan de olika nordiska länderna. En gemensam faktor är dock att kommunerna ansvarar för den lokala fysiska planeringen.
Kommunerna ska navigera i ett komplext politiskt landskap. Lagar för markanvändning sätter ramarna för vad som får byggas var. Dessa lagar kompletteras av miljöbestämmelser vars syfte är att skydda natur och miljö. Andra politiska dokument, så som strategier för turism och kulturskyddslagar spelar också in i den fysiska planeringen. Det politiska landskapet för markanvändning består därmed av styrmedelmed med varierande styrka, och både strategidokument, föreskrifter och lagstiftning ryms i politiken. Vilka slags styrmedel som används i det specifika fallet definierar handlingsrummet för kommunerna.
En anledning till konflikt i markanvändningsfrågor är motsättningen mellan ekonomisk vinning och bevarandet av natur-, kultur- och rekreationsvärden. Kommuner drivs ofta av att locka företag till området och att skapa fler jobbtillfällen inom kommungränsen.
Det görs sällan ekonomiska värderingar av naturen, men värdet av lokal natur kan mätas i röster om den är viktig för väljarna.
För att säkerställa balanserad miljöplanering finns det lagar på området, och dessa kompletteras med miljökonsekvensbeskrivningar (MKB) för att dokumentera miljöpåverkan. Det en förutsättning att det tas hänsyn till alla relevanta parametrar i en MKB. Det kan till exempel vara genom att konsultera experter på området, utarbeta biodiversitetskartor eller genom samråd med berörda aktörer. Ett annat viktigt politiskt verktyg är att skapa ekonomiska incitament för kommuner att bevara natur- kultur- och rekreationsvärden. I Sverige finns till exempel LONA- och LOVA-bidragen vars syfte är att stimulera kommuners lokala miljöplaneringsverktyg och -projekt.
En annan motsättning i markanvändning handlar om huruvida mark skall användas till fastigheter eller natur. Urbanisering runt städer kräver fler bostäder, framför allt billiga bostäder som kan understödja mångfald i städerna. I Köpenhamn har den växande efterfrågan, i kombination med gamla detaljplaner, resulterat i fastighetsbygge i det gröna området ”Amagerfælled”. Konsortiet som skulle designa och bygga det nya området var medvetna om allmänhetens motstånd, och därför inledde de en process för at engagera de olika aktörerna som hade intressen i byggprojektet. Resultatet blev att det togs hänsyn till biologisk mångfald och naturvärden i designen. Detta har lindrat konflikten, men inte löst den. Flera andra fall visar att dialog, samråd och möten med allmänheten bidrar till samstämmighet mellan aktörer med olika åsikter.
Lokal planering av markanvändning kräver balans mellan många, ofta motstridiga, intressen. Ska en kommun använda ett område för industri och företag för att trygga tillväxt och skatteinkomster, ska de bygga nya bostäder till en växande befolkning, eller ska de bevara gröna områden för biologisk mångfald och rekreation? Kommunerna ska inte bara balanserna mellan olika intressen, men även navigera i komplexa politiska bestämmelser. Utöver markanvändningslagar så ska miljölagar som behandlar vatten, skog, biologisk mångfald osv också tas hänsyn till. Dessutom påverkar bestämmelser om lokal utveckling, naturturism och kulturarv också den fysiska planeringen.
Denna översikt undersöker bestämmelser relevanta för naturförvaltning i Sverige, Norge, Danmark och Finland. “Naturförvaltning” förstås som hur naturområden förvaltas och används antingen för biologisk mångfald, kultursyften eller rekreation.
I Norden har direktiv och miljöpolitik från EU stort inflytande på planering för markanvändning. Det samma gäller kraven för att leva upp till FN:s Konvention för biologisk mångfald.
För vare land presenteras de nationella strategierna och bestämmelser för fysisk planering på nationell, regional och lokal nivå.
Protection and promotion of biodiversity is high on the agenda of the United Nations (UN). The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of 1993, to which 196 countries are party, underpins the multilateral cooperation on biodiversity. The convention aims to conserve biological diversity as well as the fair and sustainable use of ecosystem services. Through the years, different biodiversity protocols and targets have been prepared under the CBD, which obliges the parties – including EU member states and the Nordic countries – to act not only to conserve biodiversity but also to promote biodiversity. The protocols include the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (1994), the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (2014) and, lastly, the Nagoya Protocol on Liability and Redress (2018).UNEP (2019). Convention on Biological Biodiversity – The Convention on Biological Diversity
Today, it is broadly acknowledged that biodiversity is threatened and that we are facing the sixth mass extinction. Thus the 2010s were declared the “Decade of Biodiversity” by the UN.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) also recognise the importance of biodiversity by way of SDG14, on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and marine resources, and SDG15, on the protection, restoration and promotion of sustainable behaviour on land. Sub-goal 15.5 aims to halve the loss of biodiversity by 2020, whereas sub-goal 15.9 aims to “integrat(e) ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning”. UN thus regards planning as a tool to conserve biodiversity.
In 2020, a post-2020 global framework on biodiversity that is contributing to the vision of “Living in harmony with nature”, is expected to be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference of Parties (COP) in ChinaUNEP (2019). Convention on Biological Biodiversity – Zero draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The global, including European and national, objectives and actions on biodiversity towards 2030, are to be agreed in 2021. The biodiversity COP has been postponed due to the covid-19.
The most current UN agreement on biodiversity is the strategical plan for biodiversity including the Aichi targets on biodiversity that were formulated back in 2011 and defines the objectives for 2020. The Aichi targets consist of five overall strategic goals and 20 sub-goals and a range of indicators, which enable a monitoring of the progress towards the Aichi targetsUNEP (2013). Convention on Biological Biodiversity – Indicators for the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets: https://www.cbd.int/doc/decisions/cop-13/cop-13-dec-28-en.pdf.
The five overall strategic goals are:
Enhancing implementation by way of participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building.
All partners including the EU and the Nordic countries were obliged to translate the Aichi targets to national targets and prepare an action plan to ensure sufficient action to reach the strategic goals and to report on the progressUNEP (2019). Convention on Biological Biodiversity – The Convention on Biological Diversity. It is also stressed that local government should act to reach the Aichi targets.
Current strategies on biodiversity from the EU and all the Nordic countries originate from the Aichi target, implying that strategies on biodiversity are missing from 2020 and forward.
Even though Norway is not a part of the EU, the EU policies on biodiversity has a great effect on the remaining Nordic countries who all have to comply with EU policies.
The EU has committed to the International Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Aichi targets, which in 2011 resulted in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.EC (2020). EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 The aim of the strategy was to stop biodiversity loss globally and halve loss of European biodiversity and ecosystem services.
In May 2020, the EU launched its new Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: Bringing Nature Back into Our Lives,EC (2011). Biodiversity Strategy which includes four objectives. The EU will bring the strategy to the next UN COP on biodiversity.
The Biodiversity Strategy is framed as an eco-system discourse according to which nature gives back in terms of socioeconomic values by providing security to sectors reliant on natural resources (seafood, mining, tourism, etc.), reducing costs by providing natural climate adaption, and creating jobs.EC (2020). EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030
Besides the different policies and directives that set out the strategy for halving biodiversity loss in Europe, the EU has a number of other directives, policies and guidelines that affect spatial planning to varying degrees. The directives are mostly within the environmental, energy, public procurement and maritime areas.GmbH on behalf of the EC (2019). Spatial planning and governance within EU policies and legislation and their relevance to the New Urban Agenda Directives are implemented in national law in the Nordic countries and seem to have a greater impact on land-use planning in the Nordic countries than do EU policies and guidelines.
Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all 28 EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.
The EU’s Water Framework Directive aims to protect the water environment – all types of water environments, including surface water and groundwater – from pollution, and achieve good ecological status according to the WFD objectives, ensure good water management and streamline legislation.
EU policies affecting land-use planning are in the areas of cohesion, rural development and transport and include incentives such as networks and funds, including the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Rural Development Fund (EARDF). Lastly, the EU has policies that directly address spatial and urban planning, such as the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), the Territorial Agenda of the EU 2020 and the Urban Agenda for the EU.GmbH on behalf of the EC (2019). Spatial planning and governance within EU policies and legislation and their relevance to the New Urban Agenda
Most of the land area of Denmark is used for agriculture (60%) and forestry (15.5%), urban purposes, infrastructure and industry (14%) and nature (10%); only 0.5% of the territory is protected with biodiversity as the primary objective.
Figure 1. Land cover in DenmarkBuchhorn, M., Smets, B., Bertels, L., Lesiv, M., Tsendbazar, N.-E., Herold, M., Fritz, S. (2019). Copernicus Global Land Service: Land Cover 100m, epoch 2015, Globe (Version V2.0.2). Zenodo. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3243509
The planning act establishes the framework for land-use planning. The latest planning act, “Denmark in better balance – better framework conditions for municipalities, citizens and companies across the country”, took effect in 2017. This national planning act gives municipalities a large degree of responsibility for spatial planning.The Danish Ministry of Business and Growth (2018). Oversigt over nationale interesser i kommuneplanlægning The government, represented by relevant authorities, will prevent local plans only when these are in conflict with one of the four priorities for land-use planning:
Every four years, the Ministry for Business and Growth provides a National Planning Report which sets out the long-term objectives for spatial planning in Denmark as well as guidelines on how the municipalities should comply with national objectives for spatial planning.
The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for ensuring that environmental concerns are taken into account in spatial planning, amongst other things, through the Danish Strategy on Biodiversity
Denmark’s strategy on biodiversity, Nature Plan Denmark (2014–2020), follows up on the UN’s Aichi targets and the EU’s targets on biodiversity. The strategy focuses on three areas: increasing areas of nature, supporting wild species and habitats and improving opportunities for nature experiences. The strategy consists of 22 actions. One of these is the Map of a Green Denmark, which shows all of its nature areas. This green map of Denmark seeks to ensure larger and better-connected natural areas. The municipalities must report where they contribute to the green map of Denmark, which is aligned with Natura 2000, but also on their contribution to other areas with valuable nature that plays a role in climate mitigation, recreation, or similar objectives.
Another action is creating a biodiversity map of endangered habitats and species.
Negotiation of a new nature and biodiversity package is on the political agenda for 2021 following the UN COP on Biodiversity.
Other environmental legislation influencing land-use planning and the protection of nature includes acts on the protection of nature, environmental protection, water environments, forestry and the ocean.
The five aims of this act are to:
The Law on National Parks regulates the establishment and management of national parks. The objectives of the law include:
As of 2019, the regions no longer have a mandate for regional development or spatial planning.
The municipalities are responsible for spatial planning in practice within the framework conditions set by the national government. The municipalities are to prepare strategies for spatial planning, which are increasingly being used as an overall strategy plan for the municipality. The municipalities moreover develop “municipality plans” (“helhedsplan”), which are more technical in terms of spatial planning and cover the entire municipality. Lastly, to develop projects or construction, the municipalities need to develop “local plans”, which are more detailed than municipality plans and cover smaller areas.OECD (2017). The governance of land use – country fact sheet
The Danish municipalities play a key role in fulfilling national goals on biodiversity, as the municipalities are responsible for nature conservation and nature planning. The biodiversity goals are rooted in legislation (primarily EU regulations), including Natura2000, the Nature Conservation Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Environmental Objectives Act, the Watercourses Act, the Livestock Act, the Forest Act, the Planning Act and the National Parks Act. This nature conservation is to a large degree financed by the EU’s rural programme funds, which function as economic incentives for the municipality.
Despite the environmental legislation that municipalities need to comply with, the municipalities are political organisations that depend on a majority vote. Another incentive is thus growing will among the local population to support biodiversity. Eighty-three percent of the Danish population thinks that more areas should be reserved for free nature.Dansk Naturfredningsforening (2020). Ny undersøgelse: Danskerne vil have mere vild natur
Vertical coordination is ensured by the guidelines that the national government prepares for local spatial planners to ensure compliance with national targets for area use. However, these guidelines give the municipalities a significant role in terms of balancing the four priorities of business development, natural and environmental protection, conservation of cultural values and respect for national planned infrastructure.The Danish Business Authority (2016). Oversigt over nationale interesser i kommuneplanlægning National sector authorities can object to a local plan if it does not comply with national planning goals.
Of Finland’s land area only 1.3% is used for urban purposes, industry and infrastructure and 8.5% for agriculture. 62% of Finland’s territory is covered in forest, with the rest consisting of different types of nature, including water bodies, wetlands, bare soils and pasture.OECD (2017). The governance of land use – country fact sheet,EEA (2012). Finland land cover country fact sheet 2012
The national government of Finland issues the overall framework legislation that structures the planning system.
The Ministry of the Environment’s strategy on land use and building, called “Strategy 2030 – A better environment for future generations”, has sustainability as a cornerstone and objectives such as halving biodiversity loss, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the circular economy.The Finnish Ministry of the Environment (2018). Stategy 2030 – A better environment for future generations
This legislation framework is comprised of a number of acts, including the Land Use and Building Act, the Local Government Act, the Nature Conservation Act and the Environmental Protection Act.
The Ministry of the Environment sets out a range of environmental objectives within land-use planning. Moreover, the Ministry of the Environment prepares guidance within the Planning and Building Act. To ensure compliance with the framework legislation, the Ministry of the Environment has developed a monitoring system for land-use planning.The Finnish Ministry of the Environment (2019). Steering of land use planning – seeking a healthy and vital regional structure
In line with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Aichi targets, Finland has developed a strategy on biodiversity for the years 2012–2020, called “Saving nature for people”, which consists of five objectives closely related to the Aichi targets.
The strategy is complemented by an action plan with 105 actions that are continuously being monitored. Actions and status are both accessible on an online platform.Finland’s National Clearing-House Mechanism of the CBD (2019). Finland’s Biodiversity Action Plan
Three actions relate to land-use planning. The first action is to apply green and blue infrastructureValto (2017). Ekosysteemipalveluiden ja luonnon monimuotoisuuden riippuvuus vihreästä infrastruktuurista ja ohjausjärjestelmän muutostarpeet in spatial planning, indicating nature areas and water elements respectively. The second action is to increase the efficiency and coverage of the Act on Environmental Impact Assessment, to include underwater nature. The third action is to prepare Akwé: Kon guidelines on environmental administration in regions that are home to the Sámi people.
In addition to the actions directly connected to planning and land use, there are a range of other activities that have an impact on planning in terms of nature conservation and similar initiatives.Finland’s National Clearing-House Mechanism of the CBD (2019). Finland’s Biodiversity Action Plan
The Minerals Strategy is comprised of three main objectives: promoting domestic growth and prosperity; solutions for global mineral chain challenges; and mitigating environmental impact.
The aim of the Finnish Mining Act is to “promote mining and organize the use of areas required for it, and exploration, in a socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable manner”.
The act regulates the environmental impact of mining activities, as well as its effects on land use and natural resource use.
The vision of Finland’s National Forest Strategy is referred to as “Sustainable forestry is a source of growing welfare”. The strategy is made up of a number of objectives in support of Agenda 2030 goals. An objective for the recreational use of forests has been formulated under chapter 3.2., stating that “the recreational use and health-promoting impact of forests will increase, and forests will be accessible to all”.
Finland’s government adopted the action plan in 2003. It includes 30 measures to increase recreational use of nature and nature tourism.
The national tourism strategy sets goals for the sustainable development of the tourism sector. Two targets are specifically related to land use: taking tourism into account when drafting legislation (37) and taking tourism into action in land-use planning (39).
Finland has two regional actors:
The first is the regional councils, which are democratically elected and coordinate and cooperate with the municipalities. The regional councils are responsible for promoting regional development and land-use planning. The regional councils prepare regional land-use plans that structure the spatial planning in the region.The Finnish Ministry of the Environment (2019). Steering of land use planning – seeking a healthy and vital regional structure
The second are the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY-centres), which are an extension of the national government and are responsible for economic development, transport and certain environmental issues.
Where the urban regions are concerned,Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and Oulu the government of Finland plans land-use, housing and transportation in cooperation with the municipalities.
A structural reform coming into force by the beginning of 2021 suggests that both the regional council and the ELY will be abolished.Nordregio (2018). Regional Government, Health and Social Services Reform in Finland Instead, 18 regional counties will be established and will assume responsibility for regional land-use activities. Hence, land-use planning will not be changed.Finnish Government (2017). Government decision on Finland’s national land use guidelines
The municipalities in Finland prepare “local master plans” that define the overall strategy for land-use as well as more detailed local plans. Local master plans should be aligned with regional land-use plans, as well as with the national framework legislation.OECD (2017). The governance of land use – country fact sheets
The municipalities are, moreover, responsible for nature conservation. With regard to a review of the Protection of Nature Act, the municipalities’ role in supporting biodiversity has been discussed. In general, the municipalities lack long-term and predictable funding and data-driven knowledge to support biodiversity. Municipalities need to be able to easily access an information flow on the status of nature in their respective municipalities without this placing an administrative burden on the municipality.Finnish Association of Municipalities (2020). Kommunernes opgaver blev kortlagt inden revisionen af naturbeskyttelsesloven - kommunegruppen offentliggjorde sit forslag
In Norway, only 1.7% of the land area is used for urban purposes, infrastructure and industry, and 3.5% for agriculture (cultivated land). The rest is nature, made up of forestry (37.4%), open land (37.6%), wetland (5.4%), mountains and gravel (7.4%), glaciers and ice (0.8%) and fresh water (6.2%).Statistics Norway (2019). Arealbruk og arealressurcer 17% of Norway’s land is protected to varying degrees.
The overarching aim of the Protection of Nature Act is to protect nature and the environment with respect to humans, animals and plants.
The act regulates land use and the conservation of land areas. It includes the basis for the protection of land areas and Natura 2000.
The aim of the Environmental Protection Act is to reduce environmental pollution, promote the use of clean technology, promote reuse and reduce resource use.
Figure 3. Land cover in Norway
The Ministry of Local Affairs and Modernisation is responsible for charting the course of national planning through the Planning and Building Act, guidelines and national planning goals, whereas the Ministry of Climate and Environment is responsible for biodiversity targets and hence for ensuring the protection of threatened habitats and other exposed areas.
In the case of infrastructure and transportation planning, the national government is increasingly being involved in preparing transportation plans and sector plans, but the government is using the regional and local planning system when possible. The government can object to a local or regional plan if it is in conflict with national objectives.OECD (2017). The governance of land use – country fact sheets
Every four years, the national government presents national expectations for regional and local planning. This is accomplished through the National Guidance on Planning,https://www.regjeringen.no/no/tema/plan-bygg-og-eiendom/plan--og-bygningsloven/plan/statlige-planoppgaver/statlige-planretningslinjer-spr/id664274/ which is used to specify national planning expectations and highlight national policies in key areas of planning. The planning guidelines may apply to the whole country or to a geographically limited area and must serve as a basis for state, regional and municipal planning and for individual decisions made by state, regional and municipal bodies. The latest report on the expectations of land-use planning emphasises the SDGs as guiding principles and, conversely, that spatial planning is a tool for achieving the SDGs. The municipalities are expected to apply the SDGs in local planning.Norway’s Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation (2019). Nasjonale forventninger til regional og kommunal planlegging 2019-2023 The report on expectations further emphasises the importance of creating attractive framework conditions for businesses, a better transport network and liveable cities.Norway’s Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation (2019). Nasjonale forventninger til regional og kommunal planlegging 2019-2023
In addition to the national Planning and Building Act, there is also a great range of national legislation on nature and specific types of nature, including acts on forests and water, that has an influence on local planning. This includes, among others, the Nature Diversity Act, the Water Act, the Norwegian Forestry Act, the Act on Cultural Heritage, etc.
The aim of the Nature Diversity Act is to protect biological, sociological and landscape diversity. Public authorities are to comply with the following guidelines set out in sections 8 to 12:
In order to take nature into account in larger construction works, an environmental consequence assessment is to be carried out.
Norway’s national biodiversity strategy, Nature for Life (2014–2015), sets out seven overall objectives.
STRATEGY ON BIODIVERSITY
The strategy emphasises land-use planning as a tool for increasing biodiversity, and goes on to suggest that municipalities have many opportunities to conserve biodiversity and nature areas. However, few Norwegian municipalities are reserving areas of nature; rather, they are prioritising commercial grounds. Both regions and municipalities are – in regional master plans and municipal master plans respectively – required to conclude on how the land-use plan is affecting the environment and biodiversity.
The government also encourages the municipalities to create a sub-plan on biodiversity to assess which types of habitats and species may need better protection. This task is rather difficult. Hence, the government has initiated pilot projects on municipal sub-plans as a biodiversity conservation tool.Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment (2016). Nature for life
The regional level entails the county councils and the county governors.
The county councils, or Fylkekommuner, are elected. The county councils are responsible for regional planning strategies which define the policy objectives of the region and are developed every four years. Even though these regional planning strategies do not include spatial planning, they do determine which regional plans are to be developed.OECD (2017). Country fact sheet Norway – The planning system: https://www.oecd.org/regional/regional-policy/land-use-Norway.pdf
A structural reform that came into force in January 2020 is merging a range of municipalities and regions. The structural reform also suggests that the regions will be assuming more strategic responsibility for a range of policy areas, where regional planning will be an essential tool. In land-use planning, county councils will have primarily an advisory role.Norway’s Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation (2019). Nasjonale forventninger til regional og kommunal planlegging 2019-2023
The county governors, or “Fylkesmann”, are the Norwegian government’s representatives at the regional level.County Governor (2017). About us: https://www.fylkesmannen.no/en/About-us/ County governors coordinate and supervise state projects locally. The county governors are furthermore experts on a range of areas, including environmental protection and planning. The county governors have the authority to object to local plans if they are not in line with the Planning and Building Act.
The municipalities are responsible for spatial planning and are the main planning authorities. The municipalities develop strategies for areas and define priorities. Municipalities are obliged to prepare master plans every four years.Norway’s government (2014). Municipal planning The master plan is a map of the entire local area that contains land-use regulations and social considerations. Municipalities can supplement this with more detailed zoning plans.OECD (2017). Country fact sheet Norway – The planning system: https://www.oecd.org/regional/regional-policy/land-use-Norway.pdf Municipalities are obliged to carry out an assessment of the impact of the area’s planning on the environment and the climate. The scope and quality of these assessments depends on the size of the municipality.Menon Economics and Sveco on behalf of the Norsk Miljødirectorat (2019). Kvalitet på konsekvensudretninger av klima- og miljøtemaer i kommuneplanens arealdel: https://www.miljodirektoratet.no/globalassets/publikasjoner/m1328/m1328.pdf
The Planning Act and the Nature Diversity Act together constitute the framework for how Norwegian municipalities are to carry out nature planning. Municipalities are expected to map the biodiversity in their local area, identify important ecosystems and clarify whether proper competencies are in place. These expectations are seldom achieved. A study shows that only half of the municipalities systematically take biodiversity into account in their planning processes and only 70% of the municipalities include nature planning in their overall planning strategy.Hanssen (2018). Chapter 18: Spenningen mellom bruk og vern: Ivaretas hensynet til naturmangfold og jordvern i planleggingen I: Plan- og bygningsloven 2008 - Fungerer loven etter intensjonene?
Dispensations to build on natural areas are often given; in 2015 alone, 15,100 dispensations were given. A dispensation requires little in the way of environmental assessment, despite the dispensation practice making it difficult to preserve certain natural areas.Ibid.
In Norway, a considerable proportion of the biodiversity mapping falls into the hands of the municipality. The quality of the biodiversity mapping and consequence assessments often falls short, as the municipalities (especially smaller municipalities) do not have the right competencies.Ibid. Another challenge is that local politicians do not prioritise nature planning, a pattern independent of which political parties are in power in the city council.Ibid.
To ensure coordination, all public authorities must provide information about their plans and decisions early in the planning process. Moreover, coordination is ensured through the regional plans and the municipal master plans, which concern all public authorities.OECD (2017). Country fact sheet Norway – The planning system: https://www.oecd.org/regional/regional-policy/land-use-Norway.pdf
A “planforum” promotes early dialogue between the regions and the municipalities to ease objections to plans. The planforum is an arena where land-use plans are presented and clarified, and where the interests of the government, the regions, and the municipalities are coordinated.Norway’s government (2009). § 5-3. Regionalt planforum: https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokument/dep/kmd/veiledninger_brosjyrer/2009/lovkommentar-til-plandelen-i-/kapittel-5-medvirkning-i-planleggingen-/-5-3-regionalt-planforum/id556755/ Other relevant stakeholders can also be invited to the planforum if relevant.
The Norwegian government has communicated that where there is a conflict between national and local interests, local self-governance should have special consideration. The special consideration given to local self-governance can often conflict with the consideration of natural values, and it has been shown that government ministries prioritise differently when these situations arise.Hanssen (2018). Chapter 18: Spenningen mellom bruk og vern: Ivaretas hensynet til naturmangfold og jordvern i planleggingen I: Plan- og bygningsloven 2008 - Fungerer loven etter intensjonene? As a consequence of the difficulties in interpreting current directives, it has become more common for municipalities to challenge the existing legislation in the land-use plans they put forward.
In rural municipalities that have access to natural areas, competition may occur in neighbouring municipalities when they strive for development in their own municipality. A way to prevent this is to develop regional plans that specify the land use for different areas.Hanssen (2018). Chapter 18: Spenningen mellom bruk og vern: Ivaretas hensynet til naturmangfold og jordvern i planleggingen I: Plan- og bygningsloven 2008 - Fungerer loven etter intensjonene?
Like Finland, most of Sweden is covered by forest (67%). A minor proportion of the land is used for urban purposes, infrastructure and industry (3%), agriculture (8%) and different types of nature, including heathland and meadow (8%), open mire (7%), rock and other types of land (5%). In recent years, a greater area is being used for ski runs and golfing. Each occupies 0.1% of the land.Statistics Sweden (2019). Land use in Sweden
Figure 4. Land cover in Sweden
The national government of Sweden is responsible for the overall legislative framework, which mainly consists of the Planning and Building Act, directives on transportation and construction and environmental regulations. Maritime planning, which is regulated by environmental laws, is carried out at the national level. There are no national planning instruments to guide regional and local planning.OECD (2017). Country fact sheet Sweden – The governance of land use: https://www.oecd.org/regional/regional-policy/land-use-Sweden.pdf
The County Administrative Board represents state interests and coordinates among resort areas, whereas the national Board of Housing provides guidance. The purpose of the Planning and Building Act is to promote the development of society with equal and good social living conditions, and a good living environment that is sustainable over the long term, for current and future generations with regard to the freedom of the individual.Sweden’s government (2019). Plan- och bygglag:
The aim of the Environmental Act is to promote sustainable development.
Chapter 7 of the act sets out different types of protection of nature, including areas, fauna and flora. This includes Natura 2000 sites.
The EU’s Water Framework Directive is incorporated in Chapter 7 of the Environmental Act. This chapter sets out the water districts and the regulation of environmental quality goals.
Sweden’s environmental objectives, consisting of the generational goal and 16 environmental quality goals, guide the efforts for sustainable development. The generational goal aims to ensure a societal inheritance where the major environmental problems have been solved.
LONA is a grant from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency made to municipalities through the County Administrative Boards to promote local nature conservation efforts.
LOVA is a grant from the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management made to municipalities for environmental mitigation measures in lakes and the ocean.
Biodiversity is a cornerstone of Sweden’s environmental policies. With respect to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Aichi targets in particular, as well as the EU strategy on biodiversity, the national government of Sweden has prepared its own strategy on biodiversity and ecosystem services (2011–2020).Government of Sweden (2014). Strategy for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services The strategy sets out to support the ten milestone targets:Government of Sweden (2014). Strategy for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
The Forestry Act regulates forestry management and takes consideration of environmental and natural values as well as reindeer husbandry.
The Reindeer Husbandry Law states the rights of Sámi people and Sámi villages that conduct reindeer husbandry.
As in Finland, there are two actors at the regional level in Sweden.
The County Administrative Boards are responsible for the development of regional action plans for green infrastructure. Coordination and guidelines for the regional plans are provided by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (2019). Regionala handlingsplaner: https://www.naturvardsverket.se/Miljoarbete-i-samhallet/Miljoarbete-i-Sverige/Uppdelat-efter-omrade/Gron-infrastruktur/Regionala-handlingsplaner/#darfor
STRATEGY ON BIODIVERSITY
The municipalities are responsible for two types of plans. First is the comprehensive plan, which covers the entire municipality and emphasises the strategic decisions taken by the municipality. To make these plans more strategic, the municipalities are to take the regional plans into consideration. Second is the detailed plan that covers a certain area where changes in land use are occurring.OECD (2017). Country fact sheet Sweden – The governance of land use: https://www.oecd.org/regional/regional-policy/land-use-Sweden.pdf
As the municipalities play a key role in spatial planning, they are also important actors in nature planning in support of biodiversity. The LONA and LOVA funds provide economic incentives for municipalities to support local nature conservation efforts. Nevertheless, it is up to the municipalities to initiate activities that promote biodiversity.
Although the LONA programme does not fix municipalities’ priorities, it has contributed to more of a local focus on local nature preservation and recreation.Naturvårdsverket (2017). Tio års erfarenheter med LONA — lokala naturvårdssatsningen
The Country Administrative Boards are responsible for coordination across political levels and are responsible for planning mandatory consultations across different levels of government.OECD (2017). Country fact sheet Sweden – The governance of land use: https://www.oecd.org/regional/regional-policy/land-use-Sweden.pdf
|Case 1||A multi-level land-use conflict (Karmøy, NO)|
|Case 2||Business or biodiversity? (Orkdal, NO)|
|Case 3||When biodiversity and climate concerns join forces (Jødahl, NO)|
|Case 4||A national nature conservation programme supporting structural planning in one of Gothenburg’s green wedges (Göteborg, SE)|
|Case 5||An inclusive and collaborative model for forest and land management in a Swedish mountain municipality (Vilhelmina, SE)|
|Case 6||Balancing the development of recreational facilities against protected natural values at a winter tourist destination (Åre, SE)|
|Case 7||The battle of Amager Fælled – a nature-rich wetland in Copenhagen (Amager Fælled, DK)|
|Case 8||Establishing a new national park (Kongernes Nordsjælland, DK)|
|Case 9||The trials and tribulations of Tange Lake (Tange Sø, DK)|
|Case 10||Safeguarding urban green areas important for pollination (Helsinki, FI)|
|Case 11||Metal mining in conflict with the outdoor recreation and nature tourism business in Finnish Lapland (Kolari, FI)|
|Case 12||The story of how a moor frog helped a local conservation movement save a peat mire (Outokumpu, FI)|
In 2011, the local government in Karmøy adopted a plan for a new road to direct traffic around the city of Åkra. Almost 10 years later, the bypass road has not yet been built. The county governor has objected to the road zoning plans three times, as they are against the Nature Diversity Act and will affect a unique nature area with several threatened species and habitat types. Nevertheless, on the basis of the principle of municipal autonomy, the government has approved the municipality's decision to build the road. The Civil Ombudsman has opposed the decision of the government, and the government has re-examined the zoning plan and required environmental mitigation tools to protect biodiversity. These have not yet been implemented. The case clearly illustrates how nature management can become a multilevel governance conflict if all concerns are not considered early in the decision process.
The traffic in Åkra is very heavy. Because of the heavy traffic, many parents will not let their children walk to school. As a consequence, the Municipality of Karmøy wishes to build a road that will lead traffic outside the city and thus reduce traffic, noise and pollution in the city. In 2010, it was decided to use the intra-municipal congestion charges on motoring to build a bypass road. Three alternative locations for the road were suggested and environmental impact assessments of the three alternatives were conducted.
The county governor of Rogaland is responsible for approving local plans and objected to the zoning plan of the road. This was due to the fact that the road would split a large and contiguous area and affect an important cultural landscape with agricultural, recreational and natural values. Hence, the country governor assessed that such a road would run contrary to the Nature Diversity Act. Moreover, the county governor questioned the need for the road, as figures showed that most of the traffic was taking place to and from the north side of the city of Åkra, whereas the road was planned to be built in the southern part of the city. The local government wishes to develop the southern part of the city by building new housing and attracting business. Yet, according to the county governor of Rogaland, it is not possible to justify the harm that would be done to nature by building the bypass road. The traffic issue within Åkra can be resolved by creating a parallel road inside the city.
As a result, the Municipality of Karmøy adjusted the zoning plan. The county governor still assessed that building such a road would conflict with the Nature Diversity Act. To test this assessment, the county governor forwarded the case to the Ministry of Local Municipalities and Modernisation and advised it to oppose the plan as the construction of a bypass road would divide and intervene in an important nature area:
“The road is in serious conflict with important regional and national conservation interests and important natural values."Own translation from: Sivilombudsmannen (2018/2019): Manglende vurdering av naturmangfoldloven i plansak: https://www.sivilombudsmannen.no/uttalelser/32600/
The Ministry of Local Municipalities and Modernisation gathered input from different sectoral authorities, including the Ministry of the Environment and Climate, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Transport. The government approved the construction of the road, acknowledging that the different concerns in the case needed to be weighed but that local self-governance was more important:
“Consideration is given to local democracy and the goal of facilitating more local adaptation of land-use planning.”Own translation from: Ibid.
The Ministry of Local Municipalities further noted that, as Karmøy is implementing measures to reduce the negative impact on nature, the plan to build the road would not contravene the Nature Biodiversity Act. Thus the Ministry found no evidence to oppose the local plan. This conclusion must be understood within the context of developments in land-use planning, where municipalities are being given more influence. The regions possess the power to oppose local plans, but the government has asked the regions to limit their opposition connected to nature planning to areas and species of high national and local environmental value.
Seven natural protection associations complained about the decision to the Civil Ombudsman, stating that the conclusion of the ministry does not comply with the Public Administration Act or principles 8 to 12 in the Nature Biodiversity Act.
The aim of the Nature Diversity Act is to protect biological, cultural and landscape diversity. Failure to comply with this act contravenes section 7, which indicates that public authorities are to comply with the guidelines set out in sections 8 to 12:
The Civil Ombudsman concluded that the ministry’s decision did not satisfy section 7 (principles 8 to 12 as described in the table above) of the Nature Diversity Act and further questioned the great importance of municipal autonomy with which the ministry justified its decision. As a result, the Civil Ombudsman asked the ministry to re-examine the case.
The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation then carried out a more thorough assessment of the zoning plan and required the municipality to implement mitigation and compensatory measures as part of the zoning plan, including the establishment of a wildlife crossing of at least 500 metres to mitigate the fragmentation of the nature area. Secondly, one of the three alternative locations for the road was not acceptable as the environmental damage would have been substantial. Thirdly, a consequence assessment and a cost-benefit assessment were required to be carried out for the other two alternatives. Lastly, a high degree of cooperation was to be ensured between the municipality, the road agency and the county council.
For the third time, the county governor objected to the zoning plan, as the requirements of the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation were not being satisfied. The case is now back with the ministry.
Åkra is a city in Karmøy, in the region of Rogaland in the south-west of Norway. Building a bypass road outside the city will affect the environment, including natural heritage, habitats and species, recreational areas and agricultural land.
The road will affect the nature reserve of Heiavatnet, which is surrounded by heather moorland (“kystlyngheia” in Norwegian), which is a selected nature type“Selected nature types” (utvalgte naturtyper) is defined in the Nature Diversity Act chapter VI, §§52-65. Nature is selected if it is either threatened it is important for prioritised species, Norway has a certain responsibility for the nature type or it is included in international obligations. Myhre (2019). representing natural heritage, suggesting that local planners should preserve the heather moors. Moreover, the area around the future road is home to many bird species, including the severely threatened Eurasian eagle-owl (Hubro) and other threatened species, not all of which have been considered in the impact assessment. Six different nature protection associations have assumed in a joint letter that this is due to no field registration having been made of red-listed species. Nor does the impact assessment mention the severely endangered black throat or the vulnerable song cleric. Several other threatened bird species are mentioned in the impact assessment, but it does not address how they are to be protected.
2011: The local government in Karmøy adopts the construction of the road.
2012: The county council objects to the construction of the road as it will adversely affect important national agricultural, natural, outdoor and landscape values and is in conflict with the Nature Protection Act.
2016: The Municipality of Karmøy adopts a new plan that includes protection of the Eurasian eagle-owl (Hubro) and corn crake (Årerrikse) species and the conservation of different types of nature and hydrology in the area.
2016: The county council maintains its objection to the construction of the road, as the revised zoning plan is still in conflict with the Nature Biodiversity Act.
2016: The county council forwards the case to the Ministry of Local Municipalities and Modernisation.
2016: The Ministry of Local Municipalities and Modernisation approves the plan on the basis of municipal autonomy.
2018: Nature associations and landowners refer the decision to the Civil Ombudsman.
2018: The Civil Ombudsman concludes that the decision of the ministry is not in accordance with §7 of the Nature Biodiversity Act and asks the ministry to re-examine the case.
2019: The ministry re-examines the case and concludes that the municipality needs to implement mitigating measures to protect habitats and nature, including an assessment of consequences and building a wildlife crossing at least 500 metres in length.
Environmental impact assessments can inform decisions that will protect the environment. Nevertheless, this requires that all affected areas be taken into consideration. Otherwise, there is a risk that decisions will be made on the basis of insufficient information.
As one civil servant from the municipality of Karmøy recalls, “When civil servants are aware that 98% of the local government supports the road (as was the case back in 2010, ed.), they understate the negative impact of the road.”
Impact assessments are not necessarily neutral: they can be affected by the political environment. This presents a challenge to taking fully informed decisions. Several politicians have had a change of mind since 2011, and when the road was discussed by local government in 2019, only a small majority voted in favour of the road. The civil servant states that this is probably due to better knowledge of the impact that the road would have on biodiversity and natural values, as well as of the economic costs of building the road.
There is also disagreement among local citizens. Two Facebook groups have been established with a combined membership of 4,000 to 5,000 members suggesting that around one out of six local citizens have joined one of the groups and are either for or against the road. The debate is also present in the national and local newspapers, the latter publishing debate related to the road every week.
One of the mitigation tools presented is a wildlife crossing, which addresses both habitat fragmentation and the recreational area for outdoor activities. The wildlife crossing is required by the ministry as a “necessary mitigation measure to safeguard the diversity of nature, soil protection, outdoor life and landscape”.Own translation from: Sivilombudsmannen (2018/2019): Manglende vurdering av naturmangfoldloven i plansak: https://www.sivilombudsmannen.no/uttalelser/32600/
The wildlife crossing must be at least 500 metres long, and preferably longer to avoid a negative impact on the environment. This is particularly important in respect of the Eurasian eagle-owl and its hunting opportunities and the heather moorland. However, a wildlife crossing is expected to cost approximately 150 million NOK, which is assessed as being too expensive for the municipality. The entire road is estimated to cost approximately 650 million NOK.
After almost 10 years, the road has not yet been built. This has resulted from not only the protection of biodiversity, but also a lack of financing, as the money from congestion charges is insufficient to finance the road, especially given the added cost of the wildlife crossing.
In land-use planning, local governments face many, often conflicting, concerns. In Orkdal, the municipality chose to fill in the oxbow lake Furumokjela in the Orkla river estuary in order to construct a flat area where the company Norwegian Chicken (Norsk Kylling) could build a factory. The environmental county governor noted that this operation would cause deterioration of the water and contravene water regulations. However, as the majority of the county council voted in the factory’s favour due to the many jobs that would be created, Furumokjela was filled in with soil and gravel and is today the foundation beneath a chicken factory.
Municipalities strive for business development in order to create jobs, attract citizens and achieve tax revenues, which can ensure the delivery of high-quality welfare services. On the other hand, the extension of industrial areas can threaten biodiversity. In other words, industrial and environmental concerns are often in conflict, which was the case in the municipality of Orkdal.
Orkdal wished to offer the company Norwegian Chicken a plot of land where it could build a new factory, a factory that was promising in terms of the number of jobs it would create as well as from a climate perspective, as Norwegian Chicken planned to build “the most energy efficient factory” and that it would be “one of the greatest ventures in Norwegian food production”.Norsk Kylling (2018). Norsk Kylling bygger verdensledende næringsmiddelfabrikk i Orkdal Norwegian Chicken even claimed it would make the area more climate-friendlyLangøren, Ståle and Tønset, Marianne (2018). Adressa: Norsk Kylling har signert kontrakter verdt 700 millioner for bygging av ny fabrikk https://www.adressa.no/nyheter/okonomi/2018/09/20/Norsk-Kylling-har-signert-kontrakter-verdt-700-millioner-for-bygging-av-ny-fabrikk-17547895.ece through resource efficiency, use of renewable energy, and circular economy activities. The factory, to be finished in 2021, will also take part in the local cluster for the circular economy, Thams Industrial Cluster, and will be located in a large industrial area surrounding Furumokjela.
The plot that was offered by the municipality of Orkdal extended from the oxbow lake Furumokjela to the river Orkla. It required the filling in of Furumokjela with soil and gravel and meant that salmon and sea trout in the area had to find new habitats.
Furumokjela was one of the last remaining brackish oxbow lakes in Norway, and the last in the river basin district of Trøndelag due to the land-use activities over the last century. The environmental county governor of Trøndelag stated that the operation of filling in Furumokjela would contravene the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), which was implemented in the Norwegian Water Act in 2007 with the aim of protecting water bodies against deterioration. According to the environmental county governor of Trøndelag:
“The filling in of Furumokjela is a violation of § 4 of the Norwegian Water Regulation (according to which (ed.)) surface waters are to be protected against deterioration and to be improved and recovered so that, as a minimum, the water body attains a good ecological and good chemical condition. According to the regional river basin management plan, which includes Furumokjela, these measures should be reached by 2021. The filling in of Furumokjela makes it impossible to achieve these environmental measures."Naturvernforbundet I Orklaregionen (2017). Possible violation of the Water Framework Directive by the Norwegian government
The environmental county governor stated that the operation of filling in Furumokjela and building a factory contravened the water management plan. Moreover, the environmental goals for the water body would have a negative impact on the fulfillment of the UN goals on biodiversity (the so-called Aichi goalsUN’s goal of biological diversity that strives to protect and promote biodiversity and would contravene the Ramsar Convention on Conservation and Reasonable Use of Wetlands. The Ramsar Convention underscores the importance of management, fair use and cooperation in respect of wetlands. The environmental county governor stated that:
“The type of side stream (Furumokjela) that is planned to be removed maintains ecological functions and biological diversity. It also counteracts and reduces flooding and maintains natural rinsing of water."Naturvernforbundet I Orklaregionen (2017). Possible violation of the Water Framework Directive by the Norwegian government
Moreover, the agricultural county governor pointed out that the plan would lead to the significant loss of 140 acres of cultivated land. The administration of the county councils stated that the operation of filling in Furumokjela would contravene the Water Framework Directive. Despite these claims, the majority vote of the political assembly of the county council of Trøndelag (Fylkeskommune) approved the zoning plan and thereby the filling in of Furumokjela and the construction of the chicken factory. The reasoning behind this was the many jobs that the factory would create.
The aim of the WFD is to ensure high levels of quality and quantity of all inland and coastal water bodies. The WFD was implemented in the Norwegian Water Act in 2006.
Article 4(1) of the WFD sets out the water quality objectives, which are violated by the filling in of Furumokjela. However, 4(7) permits exemptions from these quality objectives if:
The political decision was taken despite the county civil servants’ professional assessment that the zoning plan contravened the Water Framework Directive, as not all possible, cost-efficient mitigation strategies were taken, the changes in the water body were not included in the river basin management plan and there were other feasible locations in the region.
An important argument supporting the choice of Furumokjela was the large land area needed for the factory. However, after the plan was finalised, Norwegian Chicken changed the factory from one floor to two floors and would hence need only half the land area. This was not known before the political decision was taken and would have prevented the loss of the brackish oxbow lake.
The local nature protection association took on the case and filed a complaint with the Efta Surveillance Agency (ESA), which monitors compliance with EU law. In ESA’s assessment, the filling in of Furumokjela did not contravene the WFD as the construction of the factory is of overriding public interest and no other feasible alternatives exist. However, the nature protection associations point out that the location in the municipality of Orkdal was not the only alternative in the region.
The river of Orkla springs from the Orkel lake and runs 182 km before it reaches the outlet in Orkanger, in Orkdal municipality. Since the 1960s, when the Orkla estuary was one the greatest in Northern Europe, an increasing part of the estuary has been occupied by industry. Now it was Furumokjela’s turn.
Both Orkla and Furumokjela are important habitats for several species of fish, birds and insects due to the high nutritional content of the water environment, and Orkla and Furumokjela have both been identified as national salmon conservation rivers. According to a decision of parliament, national salmon conservation rivers and river estuaries are to be conserved and protected against alterations in land use. River estuaries have a particular conservation status.
Moreover, Furumokjela was the only Orkla oxbow lake with brackish water, making it an important nursery area for sea trout. The number of sea trout has decreased dramatically in recent years and is considered a threatened species in the river Orkla, making it even more important to ensure habitats and breeding locations. Brackish water is therefore listed as an endangered habitat on the Norwegian red list, indicating the importance of preserving the river and its surroundings.
2014 – May: Orkdal presents its local plan, and the county governor advises against filling in Furumokjela. The County Governor’s environmental office further notes that the area is an important nature and wetland area and advises against the operation.
2017 – May: A consultation takes place and a consequence assessment of the plan is carried out.
2017 – December: Orkdal Municipality adopts the municipal zoning plan for Furumoen and then offers the company Norwegian Chicken a plot of land on which to build a new chicken factory.
2017 – December: Friends of the Earth Norway makes a complaint to Efta Surveillance Agency (ESA) that the location of the chicken factory could violate the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
2017 – December: ESA sends a letter to the Norwegian government requesting more information.
2018 – January: The nature organisation SABIMA makes an appeal against the zoning plan for Furumoen to the county governor.
2018 – February: The Norwegian government replies to ESA in support of the operation.
2018 – March: The County Governor of Trøndelag approves the permit for the removal of Furumokjela in from Orkla river.
2018 – March: Furumokjela is filled in and construction work begins.
2019 – October: ESA suggests closing the case.
An impact assessment can clarify the types of environmental impact and balance these against other societal concerns. The municipality of Orkdal carried out an impact assessment before the zoning plan was approved. In the impact assessment, the municipality acknowledged that Furumokjela was one of the few remaining brackish oxbow lakes, but found that the chicken factory and the jobs it would generate would create greater societal value
“The municipality has looked at the disadvantages and losses in respect of Furumokjela and its environmental value as one of very few remaining brackish oxbow lakes. However, the municipality has found that the benefits of facilitating many jobs in the municipality by facilitating Norsk Kylling in establishing activity at Furumoen are weightier than the environmental values that are lost."Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment (2019).
The municipality did not include the impact on fish species such as sea trout and salmon in the impact assessment, suggesting that the negative impact on these species was not part of the knowledge base presented to decision-makers. The municipality therefore did not take the national decision on the conservation of national salmon rivers into account, as salmon and trout were not included in the impact assessment.
The municipality looked into alternative locations, but the only other alternative included in the assessment, Mosøyan, was too costly as it would require infrastructure upgrades in terms of power, water, drainage and roads. The other alternatives were not included in the impact assessment. In the region of Trøndelag, two other options were discussed by the county council. One of these was considered not to conflict with the Water Framework Directive but was rejected in the final political decision because Norwegian Chicken needed approximately 50% more land than what was available at that plot. At that time, it was not known that Norwegian Chicken would build a two-storey factory and therefore needed only half the area they had first expressed a need for.
The impact assessment further recommended that the water environment of Furumokjela be established at a new location along the river Orkla. In the impact assessment, however, it was pointed out that it would be extremely difficult to move the habitat due to differences in water nutrients and water levels.
“Compensate for the loss of the side stream Furumokjela by establishing a similar environment in other places along the Orkla. The impact assessment (IA) recommends that this be looked into, but at the same time the IA concludes that it is very difficult to substitute such habitats due to differences in salt content and other differences."Naturvernforbundet I Orklaregionen (2017). Possible violation of the Water Framework Directive by the Norwegian government
Despite the loss of salmon habitats and breeding locations for sea trout, the chicken factory has been built upon the oxbow lake Furumokjela, thus employing many local citizens and contributing to local taxes. In this case, economic priorities were weighted more heavily than biodiversity and compliance with EEC regulations. Nature protection associations have found, however, that there are other land plots in the region that the factory could have been built upon while causing less harm to biodiversity.
In the municipalities of Ullensaker and Nes there is a peatland area that is home to more than 80 types of birds. It constitutes an important bird habitat. The peatland of Jødahl is – as is true of all other wetlands in Norway – declared as severely threatened. Thirteen of the bird species living there are on the red list as threatened species. When the municipality of Ullensaker gave permission to harvest peat, which would lead to CO2 emissions corresponding to 150 thousand cars every year and harm the rich biodiversity of the area, it resulted in strong local mobilisation against this permission.
The peatland of Jødahl is owned by private landholders, but the landowners have given the municipality of Ullensaker an allowance to manage the extraction of peat. In 2012, the municipality’s agricultural administration gave a permit to the Degernes Torvstrø Factory (DTF) to harvest peat without political involvement or a consequence assessment.
The concession to harvest peat and the derived operation resulted in a conflict between the municipality on one side and several nature protection associations on the other side. The nature protection associations accused the municipality of destroying the rich biodiversity of the area and essential ecosystem services. In the concession, the factory is obliged to take actions to decrease the negative impact on biodiversity.Ulkensaker kommune, Landbruk (2013). GNR91/15 M.FL. – Innviliget søknad om konsesjon på leie av torvområde However, the nature associations, with the Norwegian Ontological Association (NOF) in the lead, did not find the described activities as being sufficient to conserve biodiversity and, in particular, to protect the critically threatened owl species Ortolan Bunting.Norsk Ornitologisk Forening, avd. Oslo og Akershus (2013). Sak 277: Forslag om vern av Flakstadmåsan, Ullensaker og Nes (for å hindre planer om industriell torvdrift)
The nature organisations organised a common front called “the Friends of Jødahl” to deter the DTF from extracting peat. The Friends of Jødahl consisted of the Norwegian Ornithological Society (NOF), Nature and Youth, Sabima (an NGO focusing on biodiversity loss) and the local political party Venstre. They saw the concession given to DTF as a threat to biodiversity, as the operation would damage habitats and expose threatened species. The Friends of Jødahl later included the Future in Our Hands, Waste Norway, Greenpeace and the Grandparents' Climate Action. The strength of the Friends of Jødahl was, according to the former local liberal politician from Venstre, Stein Vegar Leidal, the fact that the organisation had knowledge of both nature protection and the political process.
Stein Vegar Leidal was elected in 2014 and used his election to shed light on this particular case. One of the first things he did was to arrange a public meeting with nature protection associations and local and national politicians. At the time, he found it challenging to inform local political opponents of the environmental consequences of harvesting peat:
“It is all about consciousness. The concession was given by the agricultural office with no knowledge of the environmental damage. Likewise, the local politicians were not involved, nor were they aware of the harm being done to the ecosystem services and the climate.”
The Friends of Jødahl filed a complaint with the county governor and the Norwegian Environmental Protection Agency. They also communicated information about the case to the public.
There was also disagreement among the landowners. Some of them wanted to make a profit from the harvest activities, while others wanted to protect nature. The nearest neighbour to the part of the Jødahl marsh that was being drained was surprised by the large quantities of water that leaked onto their property. Some of the landowners said that they felt overlooked by the municipality on this matter and that they had not received enough information.Leidal, Stein Vegar (2014). Jødahlsmåsan – gratis ”månelanding”
Ten percent of Norway is covered in peatland. Due to its cold and humid climate and its large variation in geology and typography, Norway has some of the greatest variety in types of peatland in the world. In Europe, there are 50 types of peatland. Forty-seven of these can be found in Norway. There are two hundred different species of plants, including 75 red-listed plant species, growing in Norwegian peatlands. Furthermore, peatlands are sensitive environments because of their slow accumulation rate: the build-up of organic material often takes more than a thousand years.
Fifteen percent of Norway’s endangered species live on peatland. The top layer of peatland is home to many insect and spider specie. Also, many types of bacteria, algae and fungi can be found, which play an important role in the ecosystem. Elvestuen, Ola et al. (2014-2015). Representatforslag 78S Furthermore, peatlands are important for many different birds, such as kingfishers, ducks and sparrows. Migratory birds live, breed or winter in wetlands. Jødahl serves as a habitat for 80 species of birds, of which 13 species are threatened, including the ortolan bunting (“hortulan” in Norwegian) and the taiga bean goose (“sædgåsa”).
Jødahl is located next to the Grenimåsan nature reserve, and the Nature Diversity Act states that neighbouring nature areas are also subject to increased protection. However, no impact assessment was carried out before the concession was given. At that time, an impact assessment was required only if the area for peat harvest was larger than 1,500 acres.
Peatlands are a type of wetland which functions as a natural terrestrial carbon store. When peatland is damaged or drained, greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. Furthermore, peatlands provide ecosystem services such as cleaning the water, regulation of water flows and minimising the risk of flooding. Peatland therefore also functions as a form of natural climate adaption. The conflict sheds light on how peatland is a key carbon store and how the destruction or drainage of peatlands causes a high level of greenhouse gas emissions.
A calculation of the carbon footprint for harvesting peat, carried out by researchers at the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, showed that harvesting one acre of peat corresponds to what one car emits on average in a year. The operation in Jødahl would thus emit as much CO2 as 150,000 cars in just one year. The carbon emissions calculation attracted a great deal of attention and put the case for peatland on the agenda, both in the media and politically. It was noted ironically by Christian Steel from the nature organisation SABIMA that “the government does nothing to stop the destruction of peatland in Norway but uses billions to preserve peatland in the rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia."Stenberg, Inger Johanne (2014). NRK – bliver som å slippe CO2 fra 150.000 biler
The company behind DTF rejected the calculation. It acknowledged that the extraction of peat releases CO2, but that this takes place over a period of 50 years and not just one year as presented in the calculation. It argued that the extraction of peat has taken place for decades and that DTF’s operation was complying with current regulations.Huuse, Camilla Fredstad (2015). VG: Raser mot Felleskjøpets planlagte utgraving av Jødahlsmåsan Nevertheless, the critique has led DTF to change course and DTF has developed peat-free alternatives. DTF stopped its peat-harvesting activities in 2014. In 2019, DTF opened a new soil research factory for circular garden products supported by Innovation Norway.Felleskjøpet (2019). Resirkulerte råvarer bliver til torvfrie produkter
In 2014, the liberal party Venstre presented a proposition to parliament to carry out a mapping of peatland in Norway, including its ecosystem services and role in climate change.Elvestuen, Olva et al. (2014-2015). Representatforslag 78S Such mapping was carried out in 2018 and a policy brief was prepared that targeted policy-makers.Menon Economic (2018). Verdien av økosystemtjenester for våmark
Venstre further recommended a regulation to protect and restore peatland in Norway by carrying out a consequence assessment on all peat extractions.Elvestuen, Olva et al. (2014-2015). Representatforslag 78S The Storting decided in 2018 that an impact assessment should be prepared before peat is harvested from an area of 200 acres or more.Norwegian government (2018). Våtmark In 2019, parliament banned the cultivation of peatland, which is to be followed by an action plan to phase out peat in the autumn of 2020, but with an option for giving a dispensation.Norwegian government (2019). Stortinget letter standsning af ny dyrkning af moser
Locally, the peat-harvesting operation has created deep canyons, which have affected water levels. In September 2020, the city council is planning a mechanical restoration with the removal of vegetation and the filling in of the canyons. The final decision is awaited but has been postponed due to the corona virus.
2013 – March: DTF receives a permit from the municipality of Ullensaker for its operations and for the withdrawal of peat from the Norwegian peatlands of Jødahl and Flakstad.
2013 – June: Nature associations and the NOF, based in Oslo and Akershus, make a complaint about the permit to the County Governor in Oslo and Akershus.
2013: The organisation Friends of Jødahls is established.
2014 – March: The NOF makes a complaint to the county governor and requests that the permit be withdrawn on the grounds of biodiversity and specific habitats and of not having assessed the impact of carbon emissions.
2014 – October: The county governor’s agricultural department concludes that the permission is in line with the law on permits and that only the national government can change these terms.
2015 – March: The NOF makes an appeal against the county governor’s verdict to the Norwegian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
2015 – June: The Venstre political party presents a proposition to parliament to carry out a mapping of peatland.
2018: The Storting decides that an impact assessment is required for peat harvesting from areas of more than 200 acres.
Five municipalities used a holistic approach to one of the Gothenburg area’s largest connected green areas. Their efforts included the mapping of forests, areas of cultural significance and recreational activities in the landscape, as well as the development of a methodology to map ecosystem services and a seminar on the landscape perspective. The project was funded by the Swedish Local Nature Conservation Programme.
On the west coast of Sweden lies the Gothenburg Region, which consists of 13 municipalities. The Gothenburg Region is a municipal alliance that facilitates collaboration between municipalities and coordinates plans towards common goals and visions for the Gothenburg area. However, it does not function as a regional council. The area, which the affiliated municipalities cover, is the most populated area along the Swedish west coast. Urban and suburban areas, agricultural land, forests, coastline and other types of nature are all to be found in this region.
Along with increased urbanisation, the population has been steadily rising in the Gothenburg Region, putting more pressure on housing, infrastructure and natural resources. The city of Gothenburg represents the centre of activity in this development, a development which influences the entire region. Joanna Friberg, a regional planner in the Gothenburg Region, explains that there is a desire for more road connections between the smaller cities in the region to avert traffic from Gothenburg, but that new traffic links and wider roads would weaken connectivity in the landscape. Another challenge is the need for new housing in the region.
One of the focal points of the Gothenburg Region is spatial planning, and a structural plan was established in 2008Göteborgsregionen (2008). https://goteborgsregionen.se/download/18.2fe1b41a11c70e6248a80009340/1359469264495/Strukturbild%20gbgregionen.pdf to secure a common view on sustainable infrastructure development in the region. Through this plan, all municipalities agreed to take responsibility for the local parts of the regional plan. The structural plan defined several spatial planning elements, one of them being the region’s green wedges. In this context, a green wedge is defined as a “connected area of agricultural and forest land reaching deep into the city”. In order to preserve these widespread green areas, the municipalities in the region have agreed not to chip away at the green wedges with new infrastructure developments.
From 2013 to 2016, the Gothenburg Region ran a project focusing on natural and recreational values and ecosystem services in one of the city’s green wedges. The project aimed to contribute to several of Sweden’s national environmental objectives, including Sustainable Forests, A Good Built Environment and A Rich Diversity of Plant and Animal Life.Göteborgsregionen (2013). https://goteborgsregionen.se/download/18.1fe38c3613e18e73561503/1366287981359/Ans%C3%B6kan%20LONA-projekt%20Dels%C3%B6n-H%C3%A4rskogenkilen.pdf
This was a collaboration between five municipalities in the region and was partially funded by the Swedish Local Nature Conservation Programme (LONA). The LONA project focused on the green wedge called Delsjön-Härskogenkilen, which runs through the municipalities of Alingsås, Härryda, Partille, Lerum and Göteborg.
LONA is a grant made to municipalities by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency for initiatives that increase local engagement with nature conservation. LONA grants can be issued for an array of projects whose purpose is to promote recreation, the environment and public health. Grants are made to municipalities; however, local groups can initiate and implement projects through an agreement with the municipality. The programme builds upon a co-funding principle where the municipality contributes at least 50% of the project funding. Among other things, the LONA programme has contributed to the creation of many local nature reserves.
Since the LONA grant is issued only to municipalities, Gothenburg Municipality took the lead in the funding application whilst the actual implementation was carried out by the Gothenburg Region. Hannes Nilsson, who works in environmental management for the city of Gothenburg, explains that the LONA project provided an opportunity to work with the full picture of the green wedge, which is an advantage since “plants and animals do not care about municipal borders”.
Several different mapping projects were carried out as subprojects in the green wedge. One focused on forests and mapped old forests in the wedge, which is relevant in a biodiversity context. Additionally, forests were mapped that provide “forest feeling” to their visitors, which is relevant in a recreational context.Göteborgsregionen (2015). https://goteborgsregionen.se/download/18.44e5ab9314f8c8da340c9ce6/1441359623152/Rapport_Delsj%C3%B6n-H%C3%A4rskogen_Skog_2015_rev20150903.pdf “Forest feeling” is defined as sensory impressions that are different to those one would receive in a city: a sense of the forest being an entity and of the lack of disturbances such as noise and litter. An inventory of cultural values and areas important for the preservation of cultural history was also made.Göteborgsregionen (2015). https://goteborgsregionen.se/download/18.44e5ab9314f8c8da340c7b95/1441357458599/Kulturv%C3%A4rden%20Delsj%C3%B6n-%20H%C3%A4rskogen%20rapport_20150902.pdf Furthermore, a goal for the project was to increase knowledge about how to work from a landscape perspective. Hannes Nilsson explains that working with GIS data was a big part of the project, and that during the course of the project they had an opportunity to streamline data collection and handling processes in the contributing municipalities. This was valuable output from the project, since differences in data handling can often lead to difficulties when comparing results across municipal borders.
Evaluating the LONA project in Delsjön-Härskogenkilen, Hannes Nilsson states that in his view the project “didn’t have the impact that they had hoped for” in respect of its application in the municipalities. Ultimately, the municipalities are self-governing, which means that they may have a tendency to turn to local planning documents before consulting regional project materials. In terms of concrete effects, the methodology developed for ecosystem mapping has not yet been used in any of the municipalities, nor has the project served to catalyse the protection of particular areas with natural or cultural values in the green wedge. Karin Meyer, who was the project manager in Delsjön-Härskogen, underscores the fact that it was not the project’s ambition to increase protected areas in the wedge. However, Meyer thinks that the project has given the area an identity, and she also thinks that the ecosystem services are much more visible now. Nilsson agrees that the project has helped strengthen the structural plan set up by the Gothenburg Region and that it has contributed to the establishment of the “green wedge” concept. The project output also included recommendations for further work to be carried out in the green wedge, some of which have been picked up in succeeding projects, such as a new LONA project focusing on green infrastructure in the Gothenburg Region.
Friberg, Meyer and Nilsson agree that the LONA grant was a motivating factor in the execution of the Delsjön-Härskogen project, and that, in general, the LONA grant is motivating the Gothenburg Region municipalities to incorporate nature conservation in their work. Friberg explains that there is no clear political direction from the municipalities to work with nature conservation, and states that “if there weren’t a LONA grant, we (the Gothenburg region Ed.) would focus even more on infrastructure and city planning”. The fact that the Gothenburg Region has to find funding for its projects, and that LONA is one of the available funds, has been a significant motivation behind focusing on nature conservation.
1995: The Gothenburg Region was established in its current form by a merger of the former Gothenburg Region and Gothenburg’s suburban association.
2004–2006: The LONA programme is established by the Swedish government.
2008: A structural plan for the Gothenburg Region is established.
2013–2016: The LONA Delsjön-Härskogen project is executed.
Conflicting land interests are a well-known and constant challenge in the Swedish mountain region. In Vilhelmina Municipality this has been approached with dialogue and cooperative stakeholder partnerships. Stakeholders in Vilhelmina have adopted the use of several planning tools, including a comprehensive plan for the municipality developed in line with the national environmental goal of “a magnificent mountain landscape”. The case shows an example of how national environmental goals can be incorporated into municipal spatial planning and how collaborative efforts can enhance the consideration of natural and cultural values in planning processes.
Vilhelmina Municipality in Västerbotten County stretches from the Norwegian border into Swedish Lapland. Vilhelmina, one of Sweden’s fifteen “mountain municipalities”, is located in a mountain region with vast forest areas. Two Sámi villages are located in Vilhelmina, and the municipality itself is part of the Sami management area. The municipality has approximately 7,000 inhabitants and a population density of 0.8 inhabitants per square kilometre. Forestry, reindeer husbandry and tourism are important industries in the region, each industry representing different interests in land use.
Vilhelmina has a history of cooperative land use that has influenced forest and land management practices. Karl-Johan Ottosson, Municipal Chief Executive in Vilhelmina Municipality, has a positive view on collaboration in the municipality and stresses the importance of dialogue and communication. He states that the best way for stakeholders to cooperate is to:
“meet up, talk and come to an agreement. Going through the County Administrative Board with disagreements can, from our experience, create friction which runs through generations."K. Ottosson, Personal communication, 23 April 2020
Since 2004, different regional stakeholders have met through the Vilhelmina Model Forest (VMF) partnership. This is a platform on which landowners, the Sámi reindeer herding community, public authorities, researchers and other stakeholders can have an open dialogue about planning and the management of the land and forest. The Model Forest concept originated in Canada, where it was started as an incentive to gather stakeholders in a cooperative model for sustainable forest management.Vilhelmina Model Forest (2020). http://www.modelforest.se VMF became the first Model Forest in Europe when it joined the network in 2004.
VMF consists of a board with representatives drawn from local stakeholders and external experts as well as several working groups. Members contribute on a voluntary basis. So far the network has focused mainly on collaboration on themes such as the climate, reindeer husbandry, water and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for nature management.Vilhelmina Model Forest (2020). http://www.modelforest.se/images/sampledatatemanord2021-506.pdfbroschyrer/VMFbroschyr_SV_130903.pdf Both biodiversity and culture are considered in planning processes. Concrete projects that have been accomplished within the network include a river restoration project, a climate guide and preparatory work for a nature reserve. VMF has also brought several research projects to Vilhelmina and created the opportunity for temporary project employment in the municipality, which has contributed to the local public authorities’ knowledge of natural values. Ottosson states that these financial and professional contributions have been important to the activities of the network since Vilhelmina Municipality has not had sufficient funds to invest in the project. “Had it not been for these contributions, we never would have done it,” says Ottosson.
With climate change comes increased pressure on the resources in this boreal forest area. Climate change causes alterations in seasonal snow and ice patterns, which affect plant societies and the availability of food for reindeer.SMHI (2018). Large-scale stand rotation forestry methods constitute a challenge, as clear-cuts hinder reindeer from grazing. Forest road network expansion also confines roaming areas and, in combination with land-use alterations for infrastructure and energy production, the cumulative effect is challenges for the reindeer-herding Sámi villages. Although land use for reindeer husbandry and forestry is regulated by the Forestry Act and the Reindeer Husbandry Act, conflicts arise within the legal framework. To mitigate these challenges, a Northern Sámi village in Vilhelmina developed a reindeer management plan in 2000 in cooperation with the Swedish Forest Agency. GPS devices are used to track the reindeer herds’ movements in the landscape and map them in GIS. This tool provides a clear overview of the land used for pasture and transport, and the maps can be used in collaboration with other stakeholders in VMF when discussing land management and development plans. Since 2000, the reindeer management plan has become an important tool for Sámi reindeer herding communities nationally. In 2019, all Swedish Sámi villages but one had developed their own reindeer management plans.Sametinget (2020). https://www.samediggi.se/renbruksplan
GIS is also used in a more general sense to collect land-use data from different stakeholders in VMF.Vilhelmina Model Forest (2020). http://www.modelforest.se/images/sampledatatemanord2021-506.pdfbroschyrer/VMFbroschyr_SV_130903.pdf When different stakeholders provide data on important land areas, the foundation is built for planning and communication. However, the system has a shortcoming in that many of the maps lack high resolution, which can make them difficult to use in specific cases.Vilhelmina Kommun (2018). https://www.vilhelmina.se/media/2275/groen-oeversiktsplanvmina_lagakraft_190114.pdf
VMF is a good example of collaboration between public and private interests to secure open dialogue in management processes. Collaborative efforts with VMF are encouraged in the Länsstyrelsens Local Forestry Management PlanLänsstyrelsen (2019). https://www.skogsprogramvasterbotten.se/media/tgrmy4kz/skogsstrategi-for-vasterbottens-regionala-skogsprogram_remissversion-dec-2019.pdf and in Vilhelmina Municipality’s comprehensive plan.Vilhelmina Kommun (2018). https://www.vilhelmina.se/media/2275/groen-oeversiktsplanvmina_lagakraft_190114.pdf A comprehensive plan is a general plan for landscape planning and land use in a municipality.
Vilhelmina Municipality is also involved in a collaborative project with researchers from the University of Umeå and the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and financed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.Vilhelmina Kommun (2018). https://www.vilhelmina.se/media/2275/groen-oeversiktsplanvmina_lagakraft_190114.pdf The municipality was used as a testbed for innovative land-use planning in the Swedish mountain region. In this project, a comprehensive plan was developed for the municipality with a focus on incorporating the national environmental objective of “a magnificent mountain landscape”.The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (2018). https://www.naturvardsverket.se/Documents/publikationer6400/978-91-620-6811-0.pdf?pid=21967 This environmental objective focuses specifically on preserving the natural values of the mountain region, including large, coherent land areas, ecosystem services, habitats and species populations. Furthermore, the goal puts emphasis on the conservation of conditions for reindeer husbandry as well as on cultural and recreational values in the region.The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (2018). https://sverigesmiljomal.se/miljomalen/storslagen-fjallmiljo/preciseringar-av-storslagen-fjallmiljo/
The Vilhelmina comprehensive plan, which was developed in a participatory system involving municipality officials and politicians, researchers and local citizens, includes ecosystem services, consideration of natural resources and areas of special interest from a conservation point of view.The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (2018). https://www.naturvardsverket.se/Documents/publikationer6400/978-91-620-6811-0.pdf?pid=21967 It was developed using a landscape perspective for green infrastructure and Sámi cultural values, and consideration of reindeer husbandry is consistently integrated in the different sections of the plan. The plan was accepted by Vilhelmina Municipality in 2018. The development of a comprehensive plan is in line with national recommendations, as the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has recommended an “ambitious update of the comprehensive plan” as a measure for municipalities to achieve the “magnificent mountain landscape” objective.
2000: Reindeer management plan is developed by a Northern Sámi village in Vilhemina in cooperation with the Swedish Forestry Agency.
2004: Establishment of Vilhelmina Model Forest.
2018: A comprehensive plan incorporating environmental goals is developed for Vilhelmina Municipality.
Municipal Chief Executive Ottosson is proud of the Vilhelmina comprehensive plan, which he says is used primarily as a foundation for making zoning plans and is a good tool when balancing different land interests. Ottosson thinks that, although the plan has not changed the management approach towards future conflicts between forestry and Sámi land interests in the municipality, it has “provided a clear description of the management process that the municipality can fall back on”. He says that the municipality turns to the comprehensive plan in challenging situations. Despite the risk of the document gathering dust on the shelf, as planning documents often do, this has not yet been true of the comprehensive plan. An evaluation of the comprehensive plan is to be carried out by the municipality during every legislative period. Furthermore, the Västerbotten County Administrative Board is responsible for a regional evaluation of the status of the national environmental objectives and for publishing a yearly report building on national indicators. The latest report shows that the region is close to reaching the national objective of “a magnificent mountain landscape”.
As in the case of VMF, economic support was a necessity in the development of the comprehensive plan. The collaboration with researchers from SLU was also essential throughout the project. Moving forward, Ottosson thinks that the researchers will be able to support and consult with Vilhelmina Municipality regarding the use of the comprehensive plan.
Balancing cultural and natural values against exploitation interests in Vilhelmina and other Nordic mountain regions will continue to be a challenge for many years to come. In Vilhelmina, a collaborative approach between stakeholders has been successful in avoiding conflict and has been combined with planning tools that provide an overview of important values as well as geographical areas. The examples from Vilhelmina also show that it is difficult for the municipality to fund these policy instruments and that collaboration with external partners can be useful for increasing the competence of the municipality.
Lack of environmental consideration during the rapid development of outdoor recreational tourism has had negative consequences for the ecosystem of a Natura 2000 protected lake in Åre Municipality in Sweden. Building and development projects have resulted in increased sedimentation in the lake and a degradation of Åresjön as a habitat for protected species. The municipal planning documents did not include potential effects on the protected Åresjön to a satisfying degree, and Åre Municipality is now revising the planning documents and processes in an attempt to uncover the impact on biological values.
Åre is a municipality in Jämtland County. The municipality has 11,500 inhabitants year-round; however, the population increases during the winter season as it is one of Sweden’s most popular tourist destinations for winter sports. Forest and mountain dominate the nature in the area and make it ideal for skiing, snowboarding, hiking and cycling. The ski resort, located on Åreskutan mountain, attracts many visitors and provides an economic foundation for development on the mountain and in adjacent Åre village. The resort has expanded significantly over the last 50 years, including several large building projects, the establishment of new restaurants and the development of ski slopes. Today, Åre has around 35,000 beds for tourists.
The development of Åre as a recreational resort has raised environmental concerns. One of these concerns relates to the effects on ecosystems in Åresjön, a lake at the base of Åreskutan mountain. Åresjön and related upstream waterways are protected under Natura 2000 and serve as important habitats for salmonid fish, otter and benthic fauna specific to the area.European Commission (2019). Natura 2000 Data and maps: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/data/index_en.htm One of the disturbances arises from water being taken out of the lake and used for snow production. Water outtake decreases the water flow through the system, which can affect organisms living in the streams. However, the most severe impact on the lake’s natural state has probably been caused by sediment accumulating in the lake, largely as a result of building projects that have increased erosion of the mountainLänsstyrelsen Jämtlands län (2017). https://www.lansstyrelsen.se/download/18.4e0415ee166afb5932429422/1543418281225/Åreälven%20med%20biflöden%20SE0720286.pdf and led to soil running off into the lake. Increased sedimentation can affect local fauna as it can limit the oxygen availability at the bottom of the lake, decrease the survival rate of fish eggs and spawn and cause injury to sensitive fish organs.Karlsson, M., Kraufvelin, P., Östman, Ö. (2020). https://www.slu.se/globalassets/ew/org/inst/aqua/externwebb/sidan-publikationer/aqua-reports-xxxx_xx/aquarapporter/2020/grumling-ostman_aqua-report-2020-final.pdf Because of Åresjön's location upstream of waterfalls, the unique fish fauna of Åresjön and upstream waterways have previously been preserved in the system.Länsstyrelsen Jämtlands län (2017). https://www.lansstyrelsen.se/download/18.4e0415ee166afb5932429422/1543418281225/Åreälven%20med%20biflöden%20SE0720286.pdf Following the increase in sediment deposition rate in the habitat, there are indications that fish fauna have suffered. When Åre Municipality made an inventory of char fish in 2016, the results indicated that the population had decreased by 75% compared to ten years earlier.SVT (2017). https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/jamtland/ares-exploatering-skadar-unik-rodingstam-1
The Swedish water authorities are responsible for monitoring the environmental status of lakes and oceans in Sweden. The water authorities also issue ecological and chemical quality standardsfor all bodies of water; these must be adhered to as a matter of law and should be achieved within a certain timeframe.https://www.vattenmyndigheterna.se/vattenforvaltning/miljokvalitetsnormer-for-vatten.html There are two baseline rules: all bodies of water should achieve “good” quality, and the ecological value cannot decline. Åresjön is currently classified as having “unsatisfactory ecological status” and thereby does not fulfil the baseline rules. The lake should meet the requirement for “good ecological status” in 2021.VISS (2017). https://viss.lansstyrelsen.se/Waters.aspx?waterMSCD=WA25615428
The vast majority of the land in Åre valley is privately owned. This complicates planning processes. Rather than leading overall urban development, which would be the case if the land were municipally owned, the municipality must coordinate building and development processes. This has been indicated as a reason for the rapid expansion of tourist activities and the municipality’s lack of control over land use and building processes in the area affecting Åresjön.
Åre Municipality has been criticised for not carrying out sufficient environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for several development projects. One example relates to 2011, when the County Administrative Board in Jämtland annulled the zoning plan for a planned building project for a complex of 95 apartments. The County Administrative Board is the Swedish governmental representative at the regional level, responsible for the regional implementation of national goals. In this case, the planned building site was situated in an area particularly exposed to erosion and the County Administrative Board therefore stated that an EIA should have been made at the beginning of the planning process. With the EIA missing, the zoning plan had to be withdrawn.https://www.ltz.se/artikel/are-far-baklaxa-for-fjallgardsplan-igen
In order to carry out a project that may have a significant impact on a Natura 2000 area, a permit must be issued by the County Administrative Board.https://www.lansstyrelsen.se/jamtland/natur-och-landsbygd/aktiviteter-och-ingrepp-i-naturen/tillstand-i-natura-2000-omrade.html The requirements for a permit are stated in the Swedish Environmental Code, chapter 7, § 28a. Despite the environmental impact on Åresjön and upstream waterways, environmental permits issued by the County Administrative Board have been lacking for development projects in Åre.SVT (2017). https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/jamtland/ares-exploatering-skadar-unik-rodingstam-1 In general, there has been a lack of permit applications, probably due both to the municipality and exploiting companies overlooking or failing to apply and to the County Administrative Board not sufficiently addressing activities that might have required a permit. This has been pointed out by the local branch of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, a group which has been sceptical of the municipality’s administration of development in the area.https://www.tidningenharjedalen.se/artikel/rodkulleprojektet-skapar-oro-for-aresjon It has also indicated that, according to it, the County Administrative Board has failed to require applications for environmental permits in cases where this was relevant.
Malin Sahlin, head of the Åre branch of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, has also criticised the municipality’s use of zoning plans. In order to assess their cumulative effects, there is need for an overview of all ongoing and planned projects. She concludes that the municipality has been too focused on single zoning plans. Tobias Asp, Production Manager at the Planning Department in Åre Municipality, also states that the lack of strategic land-use planning in Åre in the past was a problematic working method that may have contributed to the pollution of Åresjön:
“Historically, a lot of ‘postage stamp planning’ has been performed and one has lost sight of the whole. Very little strategic land-use planning has been done in the municipality. Now we are trying to have a more overarching plan.”
Representatives of Åre Municipality are aware of the criticism by stakeholders of the municipal planning and environmental status of the lake. According to Asp and the environmental manager for Åre Municipality, Daniel Fackel, the municipality has changed its approach to planning processes over the past few years. Whilst the previous approach focused on how to shape local nature according to urban development opportunities, the current approach focuses more on shaping development according to the existing conditions of nature. The municipality has also hired a biologist, who is involved in zoning plan work to safeguard natural values. Asp states that the baseline for current spatial planning is for the negative impact on the Natura 2000 area to be zero, but that has not been the case in spatial planning processes in the past.
In December 2017, to mitigate the negative environmental situation of Åresjön, the County Administrative Board in Jämtland issued an elaborate conservation plan for Natura 2000 Åresjön which addressed several of the environmental issues.Länsstyrelsen Jämtlands län (2017). https://www.lansstyrelsen.se/download/18.4e0415ee166afb5932429421/1543418280931/%C3%85re%C3%A4lven%20med%20bifl%C3%B6den%20SE0720286%20f%C3%B6rdjupad.pd In 2019, it issued a monitoring plan that included indicators to measure the status of the Natura 2000 area.https://www.lansstyrelsen.se/download/18.26f506e0167c605d56940852/1551274108572/%C3%85re%C3%A4lven%20med%20bifl%C3%B6den%20SE0720286%20(uppf%C3%B6ljningsplan).pdf The County Administrative Board is responsible for fulfilling the goals in the area.
Åre Municipality has received funding from the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management through the LOVA programme, a grant which supports local water management initiatives.Havs- och vattenmyndigheten (2020). https://www.havochvatten.se/hav/vagledning--lagar/anslag-och-bidrag/havs--och-vattenmiljoanslaget/lova.html The grant has been given for a project that aims to map pollution sources in Tegefjäll, a small village adjacent to Åre village and part of the ski resort. Measures will include the mapping of landslides, runoff and green areas, as well as proposals for mitigation efforts. Fackel says that the municipality hopes that the project results will spread in Åre Municipality.
Other mitigation actions have been attempted, and there are ongoing discussions in the municipality regarding potentially relevant initiatives. Fackel points towards the need for a run-off strategy to reduce cumulative stress on Åresjön. He says that this has been raised in the municipal development plan, but given the municipality’s limited resources, a strategy decision will depend on political priorities. In 2017, Åre Municipality, together with the County Administrative Board and local stakeholders, applied for economic support from EU LIFE for a restoration project at Åresjön which would include setting up sediment traps, clearing streams to increase mobility for fish, and creating a run-off strategy.Region Jämtland Härjedalen (2018). https://diariet.regionjh.se/diariet/files/1ae27949-e85f-4aca-b84a-832e5fccb461.pdf,Jämtlands tidning (2017). https://jamtlandstidning.se/huvudflode/vastra/are/2017/100-miljonersplanen-som-ska-radda-aresjon/ The LIFE project did not receive funding, however, and was never actualised. The municipality currently has no plans for restoration activities at the lake, nor is there ongoing work to put a run-off strategy in place. This indicates a need for political will and funding opportunities to induce action to improve the environmental status of Åresjön.
Despite the ongoing efforts, Malin Sahlin from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation thinks that there is a shortfall in initiatives to mitigate the situation in Åresjön, and that “there is a giant debt, primarily the municipality’s but also the County Administrative Board’s”. From her perspective, the municipality and County Administrative Board have turned a blind eye to the ecological status of the lake for many years, and it is now time for action. She says that a re-examination of the sedimentation status of Åresjön, a follow-up on the study of sedimentation carried out in 2005, should be prioritised as a first step. This is necessary in order to understand the ecological status of the lake and to provide background for political decision-making. She stresses that such an examination should be conducted by a consultant with experience in the field, since the municipality does not have the required competence. Moreover, Sahlin thinks that concrete measures, such as sediment traps in the outlets, should be considered.
In Åre, there is a clear conflict between national targets for biodiversity and local interests in developing the tourist resort. It is apparent that the planning and regulation framework in Åre Municipality has been inadequate to prevent polluting effects from urban development around the Natura 2000 area of Åresjön. While new land-use plans and mitigation efforts are in place and under development, it is yet to be seen whether these actions will be enough to achieve a good environmental status at Åresjön.
1880–1890s: The first development to accommodate tourists at Åre mountain.
2000: It is recommended that Åresjön be protected under Natura 2000.
2003: Åresjön is protected under Natura 2000.
2011: The Åre branch of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation starts to work systematically with Åresjön Natura 2000.
2017: Conservation plan for Åresjön issued by the County Administrative Board. An investigation on sedimentation is performed by Åre Municipality, funded by the LOVA programme. Åre Municipality, the County Administrative Board and other stakeholders apply for economic support for a restoration project in the river system connected to Åresjön.
2019: Monitoring plan to measure the environmental state of Åresjön is issued by the County Administrative Board.
In the capital of Copenhagen a nature-rich wetland can be found. This area, called Amager Fælled, is home to the greatest concentration of animal and plant life in Copenhagen. A decision in the 1990s to invest in a metro line, together with a vision of developing the district of Ørestad, opened the door to the construction of 2,000 new residences in the middle of the unique urban nature area of Amager Fælled. The project has been the subject of fierce debate and since 2017 it has led to both an unusual “de-preservation” law and plans for new preservation.
In the 1980s, the capital of Copenhagen faced great challenges in terms of unemployment, economic stagnation and high levels of debt. The capital city was largely considered unattractive as a place to live or work in. Its lacklustre reputation was widely discussed and the government established a board to advise on the future of the city.By & Havn (2020). Historien om Ørestad: https://byoghavn.dk/orestad/historie/ The vision of the future Copenhagen included a new metro line and development of the green district Ørestad, as reflected in both the Ørestad Act and the subsequent master plan of the Ørestad district.
Copenhagen has since developed into a prosperous capital and is today considered the ninth “most liveable city” in the world and the second in Europe.According to the Global Liveability Index (2019) based on stability, health, culture, environment, education and infrastructure Having gone from unattractive to popular, the Municipality of Copenhagen is now trying to ensure housing for 700,000 Copenhageners as well as newcomers. The population of the city has increased by 20% since 1995 and continues to grow. As such, 2,000 new homes are soon to be developed in the middle of Amager Fælled.
Amager Fælled is a 223-hectare urban nature area with meadows, marshes and lakes located in Copenhagen. Many plant species known to live only in areas with a high quality of nature can be found here, such as dropwort (Ffiliependula vulgaris), tormentil (Pontentilla erecta) and northern bedstraw (Galium boreale), as well as the very rare Brændeskærm (Selinum dubium). Amager Fælled is also home to rare species of butterflies, birds and amphibians.
In order to finance the new metro line, the Municipality of Copenhagen has sold plots of land in Ørestad. This “New Town Principle” means that the increase in price of land that the metro is expected to bring about will provide a return on the investment. It also means that the Municipality of Copenhagen has agreed to provide the development company By & Havn with land on which to build 2,500 new homes. In the 1995 master plan for the Ørestad district, the Strandengen area – a salt meadow at Amager Fælled that was not covered by preservation law – provided the best access to the metro line and was identified as a potential site for construction. For this reason, and in light of the need for housing, the Municipality of Copenhagen offered it to By & Havn in 2017.
Strandengen is more than 5,000 years old and consists of rare plant and animal species such as the northern crested newt (Triturus cristatus) and the moor frog (Rana arvalis). Hence, the construction of housing at Strandengen mobilised great resistance. The movement Friends of Amager Fælled (Amager Fælleds Venner) was founded to fight to preserve Amager Fælled as a pristine nature area. The Danish Nature Protection Association also took a clear stand in the dispute over Amager Fælled and opposed the future project.
There was great mobilisation against the construction of housing on Strandengen. Many Copenhageners who enjoyed having nature close by in the city participated in Facebook groups, 48,300 signed petitions against the construction work and almost 6,000 citizens participated in just the first of many demonstrations.
Just before the local election in 2017, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen stated that Strandengen would not be given to By & Havn and that another plot of land should be found for the project. Despite this statement, Amager Fælled, and urban nature more broadly, was subject to heavy debate throughout the election period, subsequently leading to the preservation of Strandengen.
After the election, the Municipality of Copenhagen – still with the same mayor at its front – examined other possible locations for the 2,500 residences. The municipality decided to give By & Havn another land plot at Amager Fælled, the preservation area Lærkesletten, on the grounds that Lærkesletten is an old landfill and does not possess the same natural qualities as Strandengen.
The Municipality of Copenhagen asked the Danish parliament to rescind the preservation of the area through a single special law which the parliament decided to adopt. The "de-preservation” of Lærkesletten allowed it to become a plot for housing. However, the Nature Protection Association found that this de-preservation contravened a key principle of the Nature Protection Act, namely the protection of nature against economic interests.
Nine nature protection associations and movements organised themselves as the Preservation Alliance (Fredningsalliancen), which objected to the de-preservation of Lærkesletten. The inferior quality of the nature at Lærkesletten is due to the fact that the area is covered in untreated clay soil, but experts say that, over time, the quality of nature at Lærkesletten will flourish and reach the same state as the rest of Amager Fælled. A further criticism of the preservation alliance was that a built Lærkesletten would create a “wall” in the landscape and thereby split a cohesive nature area.
By & Havn attempted to lessen the resistance by gathering together all the invested parties. They invited all key stakeholders to participate in a contact group. Likewise, they invited citizens to a public meeting where opinions were collected and included in the tender material for the architectural competition.
The winning team of architects is taking the nature into account by, for example, using wood that has been certified as sustainable to build Fælled Town (Fælledby) and by ensuring suitable habitats for the various species in the area. The vision is for biodiversity and the human community to be able to thrive together by conserving important wetlands and lowlands and likewise by designing Fælled Town such that it will create a close-knit community across ages and income groups. Construction of Fælled Town is expected to start in 2020.
1992: The Ørestad Act is adopted by the Danish parliament. The idea is to develop the district of Ørestad and build the first metro line, financed by an increase in property values, which it is believed the metro line will bring about in Ørestad.
1994: An international competition is announced for the master plan for Ørestaden. A Finnish firm of architects wins (which later merges with the Danish company ARKKI). The idea is for buildings in the four areas to be tall and dense such that nature will still be protected between the buildings and Ørestad will remain a green district.
1995: The master plan for Ørestad district is adopted, including the potential creation of 2,500 new homes at Strandengen in Amager Fælled.
2016: The municipality begins the planning process for building upon Strandengen.
2016: A range of nature protection associations (e.g. the Danish Nature Protection Association and the Friends of Amager Fælled) object to the construction plans. Mobilisation occurs through Facebook groups, a petition (48,300 signatures) and demonstrations.
2017: The lord mayor, Frank Jensen, withdraws the planning for building upon Strandengen, stating that compensation must be found for By & Havn due to the loss of revenue.
2018: The municipality tries to find another plot for By & Havn.
2019: The preserved plot Lærkesletten (26,6 ha) at Amager Fælled is selected. The municipality asks the Danish Parliament for a special law cancelling the preservation of Lærkesletten.
2019: The Danish Parliament adopts the law cancelling the preservation of Lærkesletten.
2019: Lærkesletten is given to By & Havn and, in collaboration with Pension Denmark, an architectural competition is conducted. By & Havn brings together citizens and a contact group of key stakeholders at public meetings to gather all the opinions represented in the tender document.
2019: The Municipality of Copenhagen decides to preserve Strandengen.
When the plan for the new national park Kongernes Nordsjælland was being developed, farmers in the area were afraid that the national park would harm their businesses and were reluctant to support the plans. The five national park municipalities (Fredensborg, Gribskov, Halsnæs, Hillerød and Helsingør) embarked on a lengthy process of trying to find common ground with the farmers and other stakeholders and settle on a voluntary deal that everyone could agree on and benefit from. The national park opened in 2018. However, not all parties are happy with the solution.
After more than 10 years of planning and discussion, one of the Danish national parks, Kongernes Nordsjælland, was finally established in 2018, occupying 26,250 acres of land across northern Zealand. The process started in 2007, when the area was identified as an obvious candidate for a national park due to its nature values and cultural history. Its transformation into a national park was expected to begin in 2009. However, the process has faced numerous challenges.
The purpose of the law is to create and ensure greater coherent natural areas and landscapes of national and international importance as well as to preserve and enhance the quality and diversity of nature. The development of national parks in Denmark is a consequence of a critique from the OECD, which in 1999 expressed concerns over Denmark’s nature conservation.
From the beginning, the main challenge was defining the areas to include in the national park. As many of the local farmers did not wish for their land to be part of the national park, it was difficult to ensure coherency on the basis of only state-owned nature areas. The local farmers were not satisfied with how the municipalities and green organisations wished to create the national park, as they believed that no landowners should be forced to join. Furthermore, they were not satisfied with the planning of the national park, as they thought the process did not sufficiently involve the private landowners. Other landowners expressed concern over whether laws and regulations governing e.g. agriculture, construction and public access would be changed in respect of private property in the national park.
The original plan was for the national park to be made up of 39,000 acres of land, 19,000 of which were privately owned. Today, the vast majority of Kongernes Nordsjælland is on state-owned land. 60% of the national park has been designated as Natura 2000, indicating that the nature in this particular area is to be preserved. Four percent of the land is owned by the municipalities and 14%, or somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 acres, is privately owned – far less than the projected 19,000 acres. On average, local farmers own 10 acres each in the park, with most of this land serving as corridors between state-owned acreage. Almost 300 of the 330 landowners affected are involved in the national park today through voluntary agreements.
When Kongernes Nordsjælland national park was first being established, there was notable resistance against the project from landowners. However, due to intensive dialogue and the establishment of a steering group consisting of the municipalities, farmers organisations and landowners, many of the landowners were persuaded to join the national park, giving it a more coherent expression.
The steering group proceeded on the premise that landowners with agricultural land and forest areas should decide voluntarily whether to be part of the national park. Hence, close dialogue was initiated to help the landowners decide whether or not to include their land in the national park. The dialogue was conducted by the five municipalities. In practice, “kitchen table meetings” were held with each landowner or groups of neighbours, which created a balanced and personal dialogue with all landowners with agricultural land. In the course of the dialogue, it was made clear that participation was voluntary and that the same legislation would apply both inside and outside the national park. Furthermore, through the dialogue, the landowners could see the potential of being a part of the national park, as it might be advantageous for them to promote their products under a common Kongernes Nordsjælland brand. It would also be easier for the farmers to apply for funding for various projects if their properties were part of the national park.
Kongernes Nordsjælland is special in the sense that the national park includes only areas where landowners have personally agreed to help create the national park with the municipalities. This has been the prerequisite for achieving their support of the national park, although, on the other hand, it has both prolonged the process and made it more challenging.
In 2018, the national park was formally created and a board of directors was established representing the five municipalities, Danish nature conservation organisations and local landowners. Even though the national park was established to restore nature by “preserving, strengthening and developing the nature of the area, its diversity, continuity and dynamics”, as stated in the order for the national park, not all stakeholders are satisfied with the outcome of the process.
Large natural areas, or areas near natural areas, set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.
International Union for Conservation of Nature
According to the Danish Society for Nature Conservation, the national park will not make any difference to the state of nature because the nature in the park is not coherent. It emphasises the fact that the park area includes smaller towns and areas with holiday homes. Furthermore, intensive farming is practised nearby. As the organisation wrote in the middle of the process in 2015: “Nature must have first priority in a national park. The national parks should, with their rich nature, form the cornerstones of a nationwide green network.” The Danish Society for Nature Conservation would like to see the legislation changed to ensure specific requirements to ensure the restoration of nature in national parks. This would require greater interconnection between park areas, and critics believe that Kongernes Nordsjælland should have observed the definition of national park used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as is done in the neighbouring countries of Norway and Sweden. Kongernes Nordsjælland diverges from the common perception of a national park insofar as, in addition to wild nature, it includes farmland, small towns, etc.
Another critic of the national park is biologist Michael Stoltze, who has published a book on Danish national parks. His take on Kongernes Nordsjælland national park is that it “is not coherent and resembles a sprinkling of chopped parsley across the landscape”. Rasmus Ejrnæs, a senior scientist in bioscience at Aarhus University, is also critical of the state of Danish national parks, especially the underlying legislation. “The law does not in fact require any more protection of nature in the national parks than in other areas (…) It's fair that you don't care about the partridge or the hare or the biodiversity crisis that I see we're in right now, but don't pretend to do something about it when that is not what happens,” he says.
Despite the criticism, the Danish government does not believe that the national park’s composition of different types of areas will be a problem for nature or biodiversity. National parks are still a rather new concept in Denmark. How they can best be used while allowing nature to develop sustainably is still being explored by both the authorities and committed local forces.
2002: The Danish government chooses seven pilot areas for national parks in Denmark.
2003: Initiation of pilots for national parks, including Kongernes Nordsjælland.
2005: First public meeting regarding the content and geographical scope of the national park.
2008: Kongernes Nordsjælland is designated as a future national park by the Danish Ministry of the Environment.
2008: The five municipalities agree on a process for the future establishment of the national park.
2009: Nordsjælland’s Farmers Organisation, with more than 250 members, informs the Danish Minister of the Environment that its members do not want their fields to be part of the new national park. As a result, the establishment of the national park is postponed.
2012: The political parties behind the Danish National Park Act agree to continue the work of establishing the Kongernes Nordsjælland national park.
2013: The first meeting of the steering group is held. The steering group consists of the five municipalities, Nordsjælland’s Farmers Organisation, Sjællandske Family Farms and Kongernes Nordsjælland’s Nature and Landowner Guild.
2014: 62 of the 330 affected landowners have now agreed to be part of the national park.
2014: The steering group makes a proposal to the Minister of the Environment on the geographical scope of the national park.
2016: The Minister of the Environment initiates the draft for an Act for the national park.
2017: The Minister of the Environment sends the proposal for the Kongernes Nordsjælland national park for a public hearing.
2017: Final decision to create the Kongernes Nordsjælland national park.
2018: The national park is formally established by its own act and is officially initiated with the participation of approximately 300 landowners.
Tange Lake, an artificial lake in Denmark, has been at the centre of a 20-year dispute involving local residents, politicians and NGOs. The parties have had difficulty finding consensus given their many different opinions and interests, and the situation has not been made any easier insofar as their positions have often been based on very different values and priorities.
Tange Lake is Denmark's largest artificial lake.Approximately 13 kilometres long and 1 kilometre wide It is owned by Gudenaacentralen and is located in Central Jutland Region, between the cities of Ans and Bjerringbro. Tange Lake was built as a hydroelectric lake by damming Denmark’s largest stream, Gudenåen, and creating a hydroelectric powerplant, Tangeværket, in 1921. The damming flooded 13 kilometres of Gudenåen, and the vegetation and buildings surrounding the river were removed in the process. Through the adoption of the Hydropower Exploitation Act of Gudenåen, a concession was granted by the Danish state to use the water from Gudenåen to produce hydropower for a period of 80 years, commencing the day the water works opened for operation.
Today, the local residents cherish Tange Lake and use it for various recreational purposes. Each year, between 5,000 and 7,000 canoers, kayakers and tourists stay overnight by the lake, outside of Ans, and many others take daytrips to the lake during the spring and summer seasons. Anglers come to fish for both pike and walleye, and ornithologists use the reed forests for waterfowl sightings. The local schools and institutions gather for educational activities, and local residents and outdoor enthusiasts use the surrounding areas for running, cycling, cross training and more. The powerplant, Tangeværket, and the related energy museum have been protected since 2006. Many regards Tangeværket and Tange Lake as Danish cultural heritage showcasing the development of industry and energy production in Denmark.
Gudenaacentralen is a cooperative owned by the energy supplier Eniig and Viborg Municipality. Gudenaacentralen runs Tangeværket, which produces hydropower at Tange Lake. The annual production of the plant corresponds to the power consumption of approximately 3,000 homes. Tange Lake, as well as part of the nature area, belongs to Gudenaacentralen but allows public access. (https://gudenaacentralen.dk)
The popularity of the lake amongst the locals cannot be doubted. However, for 20 years the lake’s very existence has been challenged, and it has been on the verge of removal time and time again. The reason for this lies more than 10 metres below the water’s surface, where the remains of the original stream, Gudenåen, can still be found. Prior to the formation of Tange Lake, there was a very unique natural area here as Gudenåen had a fall of 10 metres on this very stretch. This made for an exceptionally fast-flowing stream, which served as the main spawning grounds of, among others, the famous Gudenå salmon, and on the stream’s banks rich bird life and other types of wildlife could be found. When Tange Lake was formed, it created a barrier that prevented the natural wildlife from roaming freely in and around the water. In connection with the construction of the hydroplant, a set of so-called fishing stairs were established, which were intended to ensure the free passage of fish beyond the paddocks. However, the stairs had little effect due to its low water flow (20 l/s versus the 21,000 l/s of Gudenåen). The fish could no longer access the areas where they spawned and grew, and as a result the Gudenå salmon became extinct a few decades later.
In addition to the large number of fish species, including salmon and sea trout, that have problems climbing the current fish staircase, the condition of the lake is also problematic. Studies show higher mortality rates for the descending smolt, for example, when they have to travel through the lake on their way to the sea.Dieperink (1992), Koed (2006) A large quantity of smolt is eaten by pike, and the more time the smolt spend in the lake, the higher their mortality is. In addition, the lake has a negative impact on the aquatic environment. The large supply of nutrients from Gudenåen each summer results in a large bloom of algae in the lake. This increased amount of organic matter added to Gudenåen lowers oxygen levels at certain periods. This, in combination with the increased water temperature in the summer, has a negative effect on aquatic nature and, for example, the salmonid population.Ulnits (1997)
Over the years, opposition to the lake has grown. Stakeholders such as the Danish Nature Conservation Association, the Danish Anglers' Association and nature enthusiasts from all over the country have advocated for the emptying of the lake and the restoration of Gudenåen. The opposition finds some of its most important viewpoints expressed in the EU Water Framework Directive, which is implemented in the Danish Environmental Protection Act. The directive requires continuity in a water system, which is not the case in Gudenåen today, largely due to the presence of Tangeværket and Tange Lake.
The EU Water Framework Directive, adopted in 2000, regulates water bodies such as rivers, lakes and groundwater bodies. By 2028, all water bodies in the EU must be in good ecological condition.
The EU Water Framework Directive aims to:
The dream of bringing this particular stretch of Gudenåen back to its former state to ensure the survival of indigenous fish and wildlife throughout the stream and the desire to protect what is regarded by many locals as an important natural and cultural area have sparked a feud. This conflict is ongoing, dividing politicians, local residents and other stakeholders into two groups: those who are for and those who are against Tange Lake.
On 8 January 2001, the Gudenåen concession came to an end and made it necessary for the Danish government to reconsider the law. At the same time, the government was encouraged by parliament to carry out the restoration of Gudenåen according to a set of guidelines:
However, when the future of Tange Lake was being determined, it was decided instead to base the final decision on a solution that could win local support. The government chose to extend the concession until an agreement had been reached locally within the four Gudenå municipalities: Favrskov, Randers, Silkeborg and Viborg.
This naturally sparked debate among politicians and citizens, a debate which has since grown stronger and harsher. As a result, many personal and political discussions – online and in printed media – and conflicts have occurred. One side treasures the lake, which they regard as a valuable nature area regardless of its origin. As Mette Nielsen, a parliamentary candidate and city councillor in Viborg Municipality, states: “Tange Lake has for many years been the subject of numerous debates. Let me therefore express my position clearly: Tange Lake is a gem in our municipality, which we must preserve in its current form."https://www.midtjyllandsavis.dk/artikel/2b09ce81-d58b-48ea-94b9-d03788fe9a0d/ The other side believes that the lake disrupts the nature and biodiversity in the area.
In 2015, the four Gudenå municipalities established a collaboration to find a common solution to the future course of Gudenåen at Tange Lake. The chairman of the Danish Sport Fishermen's Association, Verner W. Hansen, said: “We look forward to being involved in the future process. We would very much like to contribute constructively to the development of a good solution that will meet both nature considerations and the various local interests.” However, the four municipalities could not reach an agreement.
In July 2018, the Association for the Preservation of Tange Lake suggested a compromise entailing a 2 to 2.5 kilometre stretch that would lead part of the stream around the water work. The solution was intended to ensure that the fish could avoid passing through the lake, while allowing Tangeværket to continue producing hydropower. “I have never been as confident as I am now. I believe we can see an end to the dispute over Tange Lake with this proposal,” said chairman Jarl Gorridsen when the proposal was presented. Even though the Danish Society for Nature Conservation was still in favour of a complete removal of the lake, it was willing to support the compromise. It was also supported by the local groups in Viborg and Silkeborg that favoured the conservation of the lake.
However, other stakeholders, such as the Association for the Removal of Tange Lake, were still not on board and dismissed the idea as being ignorant and as having no real value for nature and biodiversity.http://www.befri-gudenaaen.dk/Hvorfor-handler-politikere.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2afTc3vttMmnghfWTkqbNEbCRyytgkDdhj55VFiD_xG4mRnim7vkSMgOc. Although the new proposal inspired new dialogue meetings between the municipalities, initiated by Viborg Municipality, again no solution could be reached. Later that year, Viborg Municipality gave up in the belief that the parties could not come to an agreement on the matter. The municipality's climate and environment committee decided to forward the case to the state with a plea for the politicians in the Danish government to make a decision as soon as possible: “We have been stuck for far too many years, and we must now acknowledge that this is a case where the parties have difficulty coming to an agreement. It now calls for action from the state, because in the end it will be its decision,”https://www.tvmidtvest.dk/viborg/nu-ma-staten-tage-over-kommuner-opgiver-blive-enige-om-tange-so argued the committee chairman, Stine Damborg Hust.
The solution is now up to the Danish government. The Minister of the Environment, Lea Wermelin, is more than aware of the delicate situation: “We must all try to listen to each other […] We all want to take good care of our nature, but we also want to take care of the recreational value that this area holds. […] It is, of course, a challenge,” she said when she visited the lake in August 2020.https://www.tvmidtvest.dk/viborg/tange-soe-fik-besoeg-af-minister-nu-skal-den-gordiske-knude-loeses It is expected that by the end of 2020, Wermelin and a working committee will present a proposal on how the EU Water Framework Directive should be implemented in relation to Tange Lake and Gudenåen, which will – most likely – be the final chapter in the 20-year battle of Tange Lake
1918: The development of Tange Lake begins. The expensive coal prices during the First World War had taught Danes the importance of having alternative sources of energy.
1921: The development of Tange Lake and Tangeværket, one of Northern Europe's largest constructions, employing more than 400 workers, is completed and Tangeværket is put into operation. A concession is granted by the Danish state to use the water from Gudenåen to produce hydropower for a period of 80 years.
2001: The concession of Gudenåen expires, but the Danish state chooses to extend the concession.
2003: A decision is to be made on the future of the lake as the concession expires once again. A report is prepared suggesting eight projects for the passage of fauna and the restoration of Gudenåen by Tange Lake, as well as offering a detailed socio-economic analysis. As the deadline for the final decision is approaching, the working group under the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Food presents its reports, which highlight a specific sustainable solution. However, there is still great disagreement between the various interest groups, and in the local community in particular there is a desire to maintain the status quo. Furthermore, funds for the restoration project have not yet been found. In December 2002, parliament decides to extend the concession for another five years.
2006: The water work, Tangeværket, is protected. The protection covers the hydropower plant, the main dam, the secondary dams and the inlet channel between Tange Lake and Tangeværket.
2007: The Danish Nature Conservation Association (Dansk Naturfredningsforening) agrees that the best solution is to close Tangeværket and completely drain Tange Lake of water to restore Gudenåen in its natural location. The Conservative Party agrees on the solution for Tangeværket and suggests that it be closed and that Gudenåen bypasses Tange Lake or that the lake be completely removed. However, the closure of Tangeværket is never realised and the two proposed solutions are still being discussed today.
2008: The Gudenåen concession is once again extended
2013: The Gudenåen concession is repealed. Following the repeal, the operation of Tangeværket is to be regulated by Gudenaacentralen in accordance with current environmental legislation. Viborg Municipality becomes the watercourse authority for Tangeværket and grants a new concession to Gudenaacentralen with no expiry date.
2018: In July, the Association for the Preservation of Tange Lake suggests a compromise entailing a stretch 2 to 2.5 kilometres long that will lead part of the stream around the water work. However, the various interest groups do not reach an agreement and Viborg Municipality decides to forward the case to the state with a plea for the politicians to make a decision.
2020: The new Water Plan Period (2021–2028) is underway. The Minister of the Environment, Lea Wermelin, visits Tange Lake in August to engage in dialogue with the different stakeholders before she and a committee decide, by December 2020, on how Tange Lake will implement the EU Water Framework Directive while taking account of the stakeholders’ varying opinions and wishes.
Three cities in the capital region of Finland have mapped the ecosystem services in the urban area with a specific focus on pollination. The project aimed to address the conflict between development in cities and conservation of green areas that are important for pollination and biodiversity. By mapping ecosystem services and biodiversity, the cities can take these into account in their urban planning. This shows a positive example of how municipalities in urban areas can take consideration of natural values that are under development pressure.
The cities in the Finnish capital region have chosen infill development as a strategy to accommodate the rising number of inhabitants in the urban area. Infill development refers to the type of development that is carried out in between existing buildings and infrastructure, which densifies the city rather than claiming new land. In Helsinki city, the development goal states that 30% of all construction should be infill construction.https://hel.fi/helsinki/en/housing/construction/construction-urban/infill/ In many respects, this is beneficial – for example, in terms of transport and climate efficiency – since the new development builds on existing infrastructure. Infill development does, however, present challenges, especially regarding the preservation of green areas in cities, since these spaces are often taken over for new buildings and infrastructure.Maes, J. et al. (2019). Enhancing Resilience of Urban Ecosystems through Green Infrastructure (EnRoute). How to preserve biodiverse cities under the pressure on infill development? Infill development also risks contributing to further fragmentation of habitats when ecological connections are disturbed by construction.
In Finland, 11% of all well-known species can be found in built environments, and 4.7% of all endangered species have the built environment as their habitat.https://www.biodiversity.fi/en/habitats/urban-areas/ Because of the habitat diversity in urban areas, biodiversity can be greater in cities than in the suburbs or countryside. Many of the threatened species that settle in urban habitats are first colonisers of ruderal habitats, such as wasteland or construction land, which means that they are dependent on human disturbances. Gardens and parks also serve as important urban habitats, especially for insects.
In order to allow for denser housing development in urban areas while still preserving green areas that are important for their natural, cultural and recreational values, a framework needs to be put in place to evaluate which areas are worth safeguarding. This is especially relevant from a biodiversity standpoint, as can be seen in Finland’s national policy. All municipalities are required to follow the national land-use guidelines from 2017 which state that they should “promote the preservation of areas and ecological connectivities that are valuable for biodiversity”.https://www.ymparisto.fi/en-US/Living_environment_and_planning/Land_use_planning_system/National_land_use_guidelines Moreover, one of the actions indicated to preserve urban biodiversity in Finland’s biodiversity action plan is “encourag(ing) municipalities to evaluate unbuilt areas —significant in terms of biodiversity in urban and built up environments — and the threats they face, and to develop methods of measuring changes in them”.https://www.biodiversity.fi/actionplan/action-by-category/habitats-and-natural-resources/urban-areas/knowledge-on-urban-biodiversity
Representatives from three municipalities – Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa – with the support of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), participated in a city lab in an EU-funded project through the EnRoute programme.EnRoute stands for Enhancing Resilience of Urban Ecosystems through Green Infrastructure. It was a two-year project of the European Commission in partnership with 20 European cities. The cities in the metropolitan area had each established a plan for green infrastructure and to some extent they had mapped the ecosystem services in their cities. However, the three municipalities wanted access to indicators that were comparable across the cities and they decided to create an overall view of the entire Helsinki metropolitan area.https://oppla.eu/casestudy/19226
The Helsinki Region City Lab used Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services as a guideline for identifying a set of indicators.https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/knowledge/ecosystem_assessmenttemanord2021-506.pdf102.pdf Indicators were chosen based on data availability, relevance and comparability. The three municipalities agreed that the main goal of the project was to investigate pollination as an ecosystem service in the metropolitan area, and to research whether pollination potential maps can be used as a tool for the preservation of green areas when planning development projects. Additionally, six other indicators, which are relevant in the context of infill development, were chosen for mapping by SYKE.
By assessing the suitability of land types for pollinators, a map of the areas potentially attractive to pollinators, or a “pollination potential map”, in the Helsinki region could be drawn. The suitability of land was assessed on the basis of nesting and foraging opportunities for wild pollinators and took consideration of the type and amount of vegetation. The results showed that areas where significant management effort has been expended, typically cemeteries or gardens, were suitable habitats and could be recognised as pollination hot spots. At the other end of the scale, areas with little management also proved to be pollination hot spots.
Pollination potential maps can provide an overview of areas that are important for pollination. Pollination is essential for crop production and it is a cornerstone of our food system. Pollination is also an ecosystem service that is in decline in urban areas across the globe, largely due to habitat loss. Since pollination is largely performed by wild pollinators, a pollination potential map can co-function as a biodiversity indicator, as it can also show the important areas for wild pollinator species and the species that support them. Although, to properly describe biodiversity, a collection of field data that describes the number and distribution of species is needed.
Laura Muukka, senior architect in Vantaa Municipality, says that the work with ecosystem services is ongoing in the municipality; however, there has not been any work focusing specifically on pollination. Vantaa Municipality has published its findings from mapping ecosystem services, but at that stage the pollination data was not yet available and therefore it was not included in the municipality’s report. Muukka thinks that the pollination mapping has had an indirect effect in terms of learning and inspiration among those who work in land-use planning for the municipality. She cannot, however, describe any concrete effects on policy-making or spatial planning in Vantaa Municipality.
In Helsinki City, there has been further work on pollination. Helsinki Municipality has started an initiative in which they allow beekeeping in public areas. The initiative allows private citizens to apply for a permit and follow the city’s official instructions for small-scale beekeeping.https://www.uuttahelsinkia.fi/en/news/2020-05-26/small-scale-beekeeping-allowed-public-areas-helsinki This is a way to support the ecosystem service of pollination while promoting and spreading knowledge about it among the public. Beekeeping can, however, have a negative effect on wild pollinator species and thereby impact biodiversity. This illustrates the different considerations that municipalities must balance in their spatial planning when incorporating a focus on ecosystem services and biodiversity, as these can both support and counteract each other.
2017–2019: Mapping of ecosystem services in the Helsinki capital region
2018: An ecosystem service survey is published in Vantaa municipality
2020: Helsinki allows small-scale beekeeping in urban areas
In Kolari municipality, a mining project supported by the municipality meets strong resistance among local tourism companies, citizens and tourists. The protesters are concerned that mining activities will hamper outdoor recreational activities. This case highlights how a municipality weighs two industries that can generate local revenue while having significantly different levels of impact on natural resources and land use.
Kolari is a municipality located in Finnish Lapland, close to the Swedish border. The nature there is dominated by pristine nature areas, mainly forest and mountain. The municipality borders Finland’s third-largest and most-visited national park, the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. Ylläs ski resort, located in the municipality, is also well established as a tourist destination. The main tourism activities in the area are hiking, skiing and cycling.
Plans to resume mining activity in the Hannukainen mine in Kolari Municipality have been underway for over a decade. The previous iron open-pit mine is to expand to encompass additional mining for gold and copper and there will be a significant enlargement of the mine area. The mine is expected to generate between 300 and 500 new job opportunities in the municipality, jobs that will last for around two decades. Hannukainen Mining Oy, the company behind the mine expansion, states that it wishes to create “the world’s most environmentally friendly mine”.https://www.hannukainenmining.fi/en/frontpage/#environment It will do this by minimising noise levels, dust, vibration and lighting as well as by reducing harmful substances in the industrial water. The planned mining area is in Hannukainen, close to Ylläs village, an important hub for tourism activity in Kolari Municipality.
The job opportunities and financial revenues presented by the mine are clear incentives for the municipality to allow for its establishment. Kolari Municipality is in the process of developing land-use plans for the mining area. This is a requirement for the mine as municipalities must permit for mining development by including the mine in land-use planning.
While many locals are positive about the reestablishment of the Hannukainen Mine, the development has also met with resistance among local citizens, business owners and owners of holiday homes in Kolari. Several local groups have organised protests against the mine, such as Pro Ylläs, Ylläksen Ystävät Yyry Ry (Friends of Ylläs) and Kansalaisten Kaivosvaltuuskunta (Citizens’ Mining Delegation). The groups have forwarded several arguments as to why the mine should not be reopened, including environmental concerns for waterways and vegetation, disturbance to the reindeer husbandry industry, and noise and dust pollution. A specific concern relates to the impact on an adjacent river system that is protected under Natura 2000, as the mining company plans to release processed wastewater into this river system. These waterways are important for recreational and professionalhttps://arcticreview.no/index.php/arctic/article/view/1068 salmon fishing. This has been recognised by Hannukainen Mining Oy, which took part in a panel discussion on the topic and altered its water treatment plan.https://www.hannukainenmining.fi/en/constructive-discussion-about-water-treatment/ However, the overarching concern is the impact on the nature tourism industry. Tourism is one of the most important sources of income in the Kolari area, representing 50% of total revenue in the municipality, and it has been expanding over the past twenty years. Local citizens and visitors alike worry that an open-pit mine will damage the area’s scenic values and take away from the experience of being in pristine nature when participating in outdoor activities, and that this will have an impact on Kolari’s reputation as a nature tourism destination. These concerns are well known to the mine developers, and in the environmental impact assessment for the Hannukainen mine it is stated that “the project limits continued recreational use of and tourism in the area to some extent but does not split up recreational or cultural entities”. https://www.ymparisto.fi/fi-FI/Asiointi_luvat_ja_ymparistovaikutusten_arviointi/Ymparistovaikutusten_arviointi/YVAhankkeet/Hannukaisen_rautakaivoshanke_Kolari/Hannukaisen_rautakaivoshanke_ymparistova(24263)
Finnish mineral policy consists of the Minerals Strategyhttp://projects.gtk.fi/minerals_strategy/index.html of 2010 and the Mining Act of 2011.https://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2011/en20110621?search%5Btype%5D=pika&search%5Bpika%5D=Mining%20act Mining activities are regulated by the Mining Act and an array of other laws that influence the process. The Mining Act obliges the applicant to acquire a mining permit from the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes). Tukes is not allowed to grant a permit if the mining activity will have a substantial negative impact on the environment, public safety or living and industrial conditions of the local area. This is pertinent if the impact cannot be mitigated through regulations in the permit. Before mining activities can be initiated, environmental impact assessments are required in order to acquire environmental permits. Additionally, mining exploitation requires municipal land-use plans that accommodate the mine. The Finnish Mining Act states that mining permit holders are responsible for ensuring that the mining does not cause significant harm to or infringement of public or private interests.http://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/162136/TEM_2020_18.pdf?sequence=4&isAllowed=y
There are several national policy instruments that protect outdoor recreation and nature tourism. Finland has an action plan for developing the recreational use of nature and nature tourism, which was adopted in 2003.https://ym.fi/en/national-biodiversity-policy Other strategies also take consideration of recreational activities. For example, one of the objectives of the National Forest Strategy of 2015 relates to recreational activities in forests, which is relevant to Kolari Municipality, where forest is a common nature type. The objective states that “the recreational use and health-promoting impacts of forests will increase, and forests will be accessible to all”.https://mmm.fi/en/nfs
The relationship between mining permit holders and the recreation and tourism industry is regulated by these policy tools. Finland also has a tourism strategy, launched in 2019, which relates to land-use planning in particular.
Action number 37. The consequences for the businesses are assessed when drafting legislation, and in the assessment it is considered that there are tourism companies of different sizes, and that they should be treated equally, also in relation to the stakeholders in the sharing and platform economy.
Action number 39. Statutory and other land-use planning that is conducted at different levels is developed so that the needs of the tourism industry will be considered (e.g. business coordination and streamlining of processes) and will influence the comprehensive reform of the Land Use and Building Act.
Kolari Municipality has included objectives for both the mining and the tourism industries in the municipal land-use strategy. For instance, one of the goals is to develop the tourism industry by making it more versatile and to promote tourism year round. Moreover, it states that mining should be executed sustainably and with consideration for the local society and environment and that it should be a valuable industry in the municipality. Finally, a third goal states that different industries should cooperate to create a versatile industrial climate without conflict.https://www.kolari.fi/media/liitetiedostot/kaava-asiat/hannukainen_delgeneralplan_planebeskrivning_forslag_20-02-2018_se.pdf These goals signal that Kolari Municipality prefers for the two industries to coexist. In 2017, Kolari Municipality appointed an investigation by a third-party consulting company to research the financial effects of a mine on the tourist industry.https://www.kolari.fi/fi/ajankohtaista/uutiset/tiedote-aluetalousarvio-ennustaa-kolarille-kahta-hyvin-erilaista-kasvun-mahdollisuutta.html The results showed that a re-opening of the mine in Hannukainen would have a negative impact on the tourism industry. However, it would generate more jobs and economic revenue for the municipality overall than if the mine was not re-opened.
In April 2020, the Administrative Court of Northern Finland annulled the mining permit given to Hannukainen Mining Oy. According to the court, the background to its decision was that the permit was not clearly motivated by Tukes, and that the measures taken to protect public and private interests were not sufficient.Annulled mining permit: https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11288833 The permit is now back on Tukes’ table for reconsideration.
It is not possible to foresee the full effects that an active mine in Hannukainen would have on the tourism industry and outdoor recreation, although several user surveys have been performed which indicate concerns about negative consequences for tourists and tourism companies.https://www.ymparisto.fi/fi-FI/Asiointi_luvat_ja_ymparistovaikutusten_arviointi/Ymparistovaikutusten_arviointi/YVAhankkeet/Hannukaisen_rautakaivoshanke_Kolari/Gruvprojektet_i_Hannukainen_Miljokonsekv(26262) It is therefore difficult to determine whether the municipality’s handling of policy will be successful in promoting a balance between the mine and the nature tourism industry, and whether the mining company has taken sufficient precautions to mitigate the disturbance of recreational values.
1978–1990: Rautaruukki operates an iron mine in Kolari.
2005: Northland Resources Inc. plans to reopen the Hannukainen mine and mine for iron, gold and copper.
2010: Kolari municipal council decides to include the Hannukainen mine in the zoning plan.
2011: Finland gets a new mining law.
2013: An environmental impact assessment is performed.
2014: Northland Mines Ltd. declares bankruptcy.
2015: Hannukainnen Mining Ltd acquire rights to the mine and applies for a mining permit.
2017: A mining permit is granted to Hannukainnen Mining Ltd.
2018: A zoning plan proposal for the mine is put forward by the municipality.
September 2019: An anti-mine petition with 51,000 signatures is handed over to the Kolari municipal council.
April 2020: The Administrative Court of Northern Finland annuls the mining permit granted by the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes.
Viurusuo is a peat mire of 360 hectares located near the town of Outokumpu in eastern Finland. For 18 years (from 1995 to 2013) it was the focal point of a legal conflict between a local conservation movement that wanted to protect the peat mire and the peat mining company Vapo Ltd., which applied for an environmental permit for peat extraction at the Viurusuo mire in 1995. The conflict ended in 2013 when the Finnish state purchased the land from the peat mining company in order to protect its natural values.
Finland has the highest proportion of wetland of any country in terms of land area. Peatlands cover about a third of the total land area of the country. Part of Finnish peatland is used for peat extraction. More than 90% of the extracted peat is used to produce energy, accounting for 5% to 7% of the national annual energy production in Finland.Ratamäki et al. (2019) Finland has never had a separate act on peat, mires or peat extraction, even though removal of peat can have a negative effect on biodiversity and nature values, especially when done on a larger scale. In the broader context of climate change, peatlands also play an important role as large natural carbon sinks. Sound management of mires and peatlands is perhaps the best way for Finland to contribute to climate change mitigation.Kaakinen & Salminen (2006)
In recent decades there have been local conflicts between peat mining companies and local nature conservation actors. One of the longest-running conflicts is the case of Viurusuo. It began in 1995, when the peat mining company Vapo Ltd. applied for an environmental permit for peat extraction. This was in line with the 1978 decision of the Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture stating in the regional plan that the area was to be used for peat mining despite the high biodiversity values identified in the area.http://tool-besafe.pensoft.net/index.php/2015/02/03/conflict-on-the-many-uses-of-peatlands/
Since 1994, all projects that exceed 150 hectares must be assessed under the Finnish Environmental Impact Assessment Act, which has raised the status of biodiversity conservation in relation to peat extraction. Pölönen & Halinen (2014) Since 2014, this has been mandatory for all peat extraction areas, no matter the size of the area. In the case of Viurusuo, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was conducted on 360 hectares of land owned by Vapo Ltd. in the preparation stage of the project. The results from the EIA must be considered when granting environmental permits for projects. It is always the developer of the project, in this case Vapo Ltd., who is responsible for conducting the EIA. The procedure is, however, supervised and controlled by the authorities, such as the ministries for economic development, transport and the environment.https://www.ymparisto.fi/en-US/Forms_permits_and_environmental_impact_assessment/Environmental_impact_assessment
In 1998, the local residents were informed of the Viurusuo project for the first time. It was introduced by the municipality as a positive development for the region and the town of Outokumpu that offered economic benefits and local employment. However, the local residents and nature conservation associations soon opposed it. Their main concern was the potential negative impact on nature and biodiversity, as well as the loss of recreational services. In 2000, when Vapo Ltd. was granted a water permit for draining ponds in Viurusuo by the Water Right Court of Eastern Finland, ten individual parties appealed against the decision to the Administrative Court of Vaasa, which processes appeals related to Finnish environmental permits. The court concluded that the impact assessment for the draining of the ponds was insufficientThe Administrative Court of Vaasa (2003) and returned the case to the Environmental Permit Office of Eastern Finland.
In the meantime, the environmental permit procedure was changed with the renewal of the Finnish Environmental Protection Act of 2000. This meant that not only should impact on water be taken into consideration, but also impact on natural status as a whole. Due to this legislative change, Vapo Ltd. was not granted an environmental permit.
Vapo Ltd. appealed against the decision in 2003, but the original decision was affirmed based on the Finnish Water Act. Vapo Ltd. appealed once again to the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland in 2005, which in 2006 overruled earlier court decisions by the Court of Vaasa and returned the case to the Environmental Permit Office of Eastern Finland.The Supreme Administrative Court of Finland (2006) In 2007, Vapo Ltd. was granted a permit in which 47 of the hectares surrounding the ponds in Viurusuo were removed from the original peat extraction area. As a consequence, the local conservation movement made 11 appeals, but the local resistance and its arguments did not carry enough weight with the legislative authorities.
An important turning point in the conflict came when a local retired biology teacher mentioned that she had heard what sounded like a moor frog croaking in the peat mire. The regional branch of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) confirmed that the frog species was indeed the moor frog, which is strictly protected by the EU Habitats Directive as an Annex IV species. Furthermore, the regional branch of FANC identified several springs and streams in the area that could potentially be polluted by the peat extraction.
In 2011, the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland overruled the decisions of the Administrative Court of Vaasa and the Environmental Permit Office of Eastern Finland, referring to Viurusuo as a reproduction and resting place for the moor frog. Degradation of the natural habitats of protected species is prohibited under the Finnish Nature Conservation Act. As a result, the issue once again returned to the Environmental Permit Office of Eastern Finland.
The battle could surely have continued further. However, in September 2009, Vapo Ltd. decided that it no longer wanted to pursue the environmental permit for peat extraction in the area and withdrew its application. Three years later, the Viurusuo mire was sold by Vapo Ltd. to the state of Finland in a deal described by Tomi Yli-Kyyny, CEO of Vapo Ltd., as “acceptable in the common interest, even though the price only covers a fraction of the mire’s value as an energy source”. The reasons for the acquisition were explained in a joint news release that emphasised how the peat extraction project had been against the public interest, put biodiversity at risk and would have destroyed landscape, habitats, and pristine nature that are home to endangered species.
In the end, Viurusuo was protected and saved from peat extraction. However, this was not ensured through a court decision, as the legal process could have gone on had Vapo Ltd. chosen to continue the battle. When the Finnish state bought Viurusuo, it became an example of how public interest is not always protected through legal norms and thus also requires the implementation of political decisions.
1995: The peat mining company Vapo Ltd. buys a peatland area in Outokumpu and applies for an environmental permit for peat extraction at Viurusuo.
2000: Vapo Ltd. receives an environmental permit for peat extraction from the Water Rights Court of Eastern Finland.
2001: The Court of Vasa overrules the environmental permit and remits it to the Environmental Permit Office of Eastern Finland.
2003: The Environmental Permit Office of Eastern Finland rejects the permit.
2005: Vapo Ltd. appeals against the decision, but the Administrative Court of Vaasaa rejects the appeal.
2006: Vapo Ltd. appeals again and the case goes to the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland, which overrules the earlier court decisions and returns the case to the Environmental Permit Office of Eastern Finland.
2007: An environmental permit is granted to Vapo Ltd. by the Environmental Permit Office of Eastern Finland, as the licensing agency found that peat extraction in Viurusuo does not affect the surrounding ponds
2009: A moor frog is found in the mire. The moor frog is protected under the EU Habitats Directive.
2011: The Administrative Court of Finland overrules the decision and returns the case to the Environmental Permit Office of Eastern Finland.
2012: Vapo Ltd. withdraws its application and starts negotiating the sale of the Viurusuo mire with Metsähallitus, the state-owned Finnish Park and Forest Service.
2013: The Finnish Park and Forest Service buys the peatland area from Vapo Ltd.
How commercial, environmental and social concerns are balanced in land-use planning is coloured by historical and contemporary politics. Historical, as many of our buildings are remains from the past. Contemporary, as many municipalities use local plans as development strategies indicating the direction in which the municipality is going. As land-use planning is steeped in competing political priorities, conflicts over the way in which a society should develop are very likely to emerge, particularly when many different interests are at stake.
Conflicts can also emerge between levels of governance, particularly when regulations or policies can be interpreted in different ways and thereby deviate, or when municipalities are left with broad and conflicting guidelines.
The cases display examples of different conflict levels, but it is a small sample from which general conclusions cannot be drawn. The cases do, however, provide an insight into the trends and phenomena regarding land-use conflict and how it is handled, an insight which overlaps country borders.
Across the Nordic countries, nature planning is regulated by land-use acts and a range of environmental and cultural policies and strategies.
The overall land-use authority varies from one Nordic country to the next. In Denmark and Sweden, the Ministry of Business and Growth is the supreme authority. In Finland it is the Ministry of Environment, and in Norway it is the Ministry of Local Affairs and Modernisation.
Across the Nordic countries, land-use and buildings acts state a range of, often conflicting, priorities, leaving the actual prioritisation to the regional and local land-use authorities. Land-use plans are increasingly being framed as strategic tools for developing desired societies; land-use planning is thus politicised and depends on the composition of the local government.
In Denmark, Finland and Norway, the national authorities are responsible for formulating guidelines for local and regional land-use planning. In Sweden, no such guidelines exist.
In Norway, the municipalities are asked to allow the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) guide local land-use planning. The SDGs assume that economic growth, social welfare and environmental care can be achieved. However, several of the SDGs are in many circumstances conflicting. This is best understood through the example of windmills, which have been subject to heavy debate in Norway. On the one hand, windmills contribute to sustainable energy (SDG7) and combat climate change (SDG 13). On the other hand, windmills contain scarce metalsSuch as dyprosium and nyodym. Norges Geologiske Undersøkelse (2016). Vindkraft krever masseprouksjon av metaller (contributing negatively to SDG12 on sustainable production and consumption) and can damage habitatsNRK (2019). Ingen hadde regnet ud hvor mye urørt natur vindkraften vil ta (negatively affecting SDG15, life on land).
The Danish land-use guidelines for the municipalities set out four priorities, including business development, environment, cultural values and planned national infrastructure. However, the guidelines do not state which of these priorities are more important, nor how they should be balanced in practice.
Recommendation 1. Targeting the national level: guide the municipalities in balancing different societal concerns.
Address possible conflicts and how these should be tackled.
Several of the cases show how conflicts have arisen due to different local views on the interpretation of national guidelines and strategies. By giving the regional and municipal levels clear guidance on how to prioritise, some of these conflicts might be avoided.
The mapping of national policies on land use in the Nordic countries indicates that national objectives and regulations gravitate more towards natural and recreational values than cultural values. This trend is consistent with the number of conflicts over biodiversity, outdoor recreation and cultural values respectively, where cultural values seem to be least represented as a reason for land-use conflict.
A cultural matter which historically has seemed to cause conflict in spatial planning across the Nordics is consideration of the rights and culture of the indigenous Sámi culture. The Sámi people live in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Today Sámi culture is well protected. In Sweden, the Reindeer Husbandry Act specifies the right of the Sámi people to conduct reindeer husbandry. In Finland, one of the biodiversity preservation efforts is the preparation of a guide to environmental administration in regions that are the home of Sámis.
Environmental legislation is a key tool for protecting nature areas through land-use planning. When such planning is decided by law, municipalities have little opportunity to circumvent it. However, gaps in legislation can permit circumvention. An example is the case of the rich oxbow lake Furumokjela in Norway, where an opening in the Water Framework Directive (Article 4(7)) allowed an exemption from protecting the water body. This was because all cost-efficient mitigation strategies were taken, the changes were included in the river basin management plan, other societal priorities were assessed as more important and no feasible alternatives existed. However, the assessment that no alternative locations were present later proved not to be the case. This example indicates the need for a certain qualification of information. Such a qualification of information can be ensured by strictly guiding which parameters an assessment should include and/or by way of a process guide for how such an assessment is to be carried out.
Recommendation 2. Targeting the national level: prepare guidelines on how an assessment of alternative locations is to be carried out.
There should be thorough dialogue with the actor requesting the plot of land before the plot is given to ensure that the actual needs are mapped. This should follow a sufficient assessment of where it is possible for the company to be located.
Several cases exemplify how financial support from the state level has effectively motivated the conservation of species, habitats or cultural- and recreational values at the local level. This shows how economic policy tools can be successfully used between levels of governance to promote national goals. In Sweden, the Local Conservation Programme (LONA) makes grants for municipal initiatives to conserve nature. In the Göteborg region, this grant was a motivation behind the consideration given to natural and cultural values in spatial planning.
Recommendation 3. Targeting the national level: create economic incentives to ensure the conservation of species, habitats and cultural and recreational values.
Such economic incentives can be made available through a fund, whereby municipalities can apply for funding to develop a tool or to pilot initiatives. An economic disincentive is also possible, by requiring ecological compensation for the degradation of an important aspect of nature. In some cases this may also serve as an economic incentive to find an alternative location.
There are also a few examples of incentives initiated at the national level for the municipalities to promote biodiversity. The environmental regulations create a framework for limiting harm to nature, but the active promotion of biodiversity is voluntary.
Several of the cases show a conflict between economic and environmental interests. Attracting a new business to a municipality, re-opening a mine or supporting tourism can contribute to growth, job creation and tax revenues. Nature, however, cannot be valued in strictly economic terms. This valuation – or lack thereof – does not support nature protection. While at the national level it does not matter which municipality a given company is located in, it is of great consequence to the municipalities.
In Denmark, the regions do not have a say in land-use planning, but in Norway, Finland and Sweden they do to varying degrees. In Sweden the regions can choose to develop regional plans, but they are voluntary and more of a strategic tool for regional development. Regional plans are required only for the counties of Stockholm and Skåne. In Norway, the regional authorities (Fylkeskommer) develop a regional plan as guidance for the municipalities in the region, but it is not mandatory for the municipalities to follow it. In Finland, the regions play a more important role by developing regional land-use plans, with the exception of urban regions, which the national level is responsible for together with the urban municipalities.
Another point illustrated by the cases is that collaboration between neighbouring municipalities can contribute to counteracting infill development and loss of biodiversity, recreational and cultural values in close proximity to urban areas. This is accomplished in Sweden and Finland by mapping the ecosystem services in larger coherent green areas across municipalities. In this process, merging data from several municipalities can constitute both a challenge and an opportunity, as data material and handling processes often differ in quality between municipalities. While differing data can be a hurdle to collaboration in some municipalities, it can also serve as motivation to streamline data and build a foundation for future regional collaboration.
Recommendation 4. Targeting the regional level: the regional level can support inter-municipal cooperation in larger coherent green areas by mapping ecosystem services
The regions should be aware of competition between municipalities and avoid this by removing disincentives for cooperation and focus instead on knowledge exchange.
The case of Gothenburg shows how the region can facilitate collaboration between municipalities and coordinate plans for common goals and visions. In this example, five municipalities joined forces to map forests, areas of cultural significance and recreational activities in the landscape, as well as to develop a methodology for mapping ecosystem services.
Across the Nordic countries, the municipalities play a key role in land-use planning and thereby in nature planning.
One example of a conflict trend is the use of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). Despite the fact that EIAs are a well-defined and widely used policy tool in all the Nordic countries, the cases illustrate several examples of their misuse or underuse, which has had negative consequences for natural values. This trend is mainly apparent on the local level, in connection with zoning plans for different types of development projects that directly or indirectly affect biodiversity. In Åre, in Sweden, the lack of erosion and run-off strategies when planning for mountain regions led to local challenges. In Karmøy, in Norway, the lack of consideration for threatened bird species led to a weak basis for decision-making.
Recommendation 5. Targeting the local level: municipalities should ensure that Environmental Impact Assessments include all affected areas.
This can be ensured by asking independent experts to verify the EIAs, by preparing an EIA guide that describes which areas need to be included for different nature areas and, lastly, by educating local civil servants in how to carry out EIAs.
Knowledge of biodiversity and natural-and cultural values within the municipalities is important, as this is the basis for decision-making that takes account of biodiversity. Biodiversity maps are useful tools for preserving natural values. Pollination data can be added to these biodiversity maps to provide new perspectives on an area’s ecosystem services. Pollination maps are finer-scaled than many other urban maps. Therefore, they can provide a different view and take areas into account that may otherwise be overlooked.
Recommendation 6. Targeting the local level: develop or use already established biodiversity maps before initiating construction work
These can be supplemented with pollination data to improve the understanding of an area’s ecosystem services. Such biodiversity maps can further improve the quality of EIAs.
There is, furthermore, a need to translate ecosystem services for a local planning context. While many local planners are aware of the concepts of ecosystem and ecosystem services, it is not clear how these can be applied to promote biodiversity locally. Larger municipalities often have the capacity to hire expert knowledge, capacity which is lacking in smaller municipalities.
The cases demonstrate that threats to recreational values are more likely to stir up local resistance, while threats to natural values tend to create resistance at both the local and national levels. Collaborative planning processes, where local stakeholders are invited, can be implemented as a tool for easing these conflicts. The cases do, however, show that each case is individual, and that the outcomes of collaborative processes can differ in effectiveness and success. It is therefore essential to consider individual conditions for each case before implementing cooperative efforts.
Recommendation 7. Targeting the local level: apply collaborative processes to engage stakeholders and thereby ease potential conflicts.
Let stakeholders express their concerns and suggest potential solutions. Facilitate dialogue between stakeholders with conflicting opinions. Dialogue and consensus early on in the planning process can contribute to an easing of potential conflict. It can also be an advantage to consider cultural and historical interests.
In the case of Kongernes Nordsjælland national park, the five national park municipalities held several meetings with farmers and stakeholders to ensure common ground in the upcoming national park. Even though not all of the stakeholders were satisfied with the final outcome, the intensive dialogue and the establishment of a steering group consisting of the municipalities, farmers organisations and landowners helped ease the resistance to the project.
Increasing levels of support for nature preservation among the population can create an incentive among local politicians to promote biodiversity. However, this incentive is often limited if other societal priorities are given more weight.
Providing support through knowledge transfer, such as by state officials or researchers consulting in planning processes, is another example of support from the national to the local level.
Recommendation 8. Targeting all levels:
support knowledge-sharing between public authorities and knowledge institutions to inform land-use planning.
Conflicts across governance levels can occur as a result of lack of knowledge or insight.
The facilitation of dialogue across governance levels can address the challenges that municipalities face and can inform the national level of how they are to formulate regulations and guidelines on land-use planning. Cases from Sweden and Finland demonstrate how this can be used as an instrument to incorporate national goals into local spatial planning.
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