Northern Europe’s untamed and unique land – the great home of the Sami, charismatic wildlife species and natural treasures
Lapland – Sápmi – is a unique blend of untamed nature and cultural heritage. Here old-growth forests, mountains, glaciers, free-flowing rivers and extensive wetlands co-exist with the indigenous Sami community since millennia. There is no other place in continental Europe with such vast, uninhabited, road-less and original landscapes as Lapland. The composition of fauna and flora is still largely intact and the functioning of ecosystems unaltered. Here, the large-scale reindeer migration and largely intact river systems shape the ecology and the landscape as well as people’s lives. However, even under such pristine conditions, there are threats and needs to ensure that the uniqueness of the land remains and that some lost components are brought back.
With the snow-capped mountains, glaciers, unbroken taiga forest, vast wetlands and rich wildlife, Lapland is for good reasons sometimes referred to as “Europe’s Alaska”. The Rewilding Lapland area is located in northern Sweden and Norway. It stretches from the Atlantic fjords in the west over a range of mountains, vast taiga forests and marshlands, and connects with the northern part of the Baltic Sea via some of Europe’s most well preserved river systems – Råne, Kalix and Pite rivers. Within a core area of more than 3 million hectares, less than 1,000 people live permanently. Only four smaller roads lead into the area from the east, making Lapland Europe’s largest, non-fragmented nature area. Within this vast area, more than 15 Swedish Sami communities have their home, some of them stretching their traditional land use also into the Norwegian side.
Due to the high conservation and cultural values, a very significant part of Lapland has been protected. On the Swedish side there are four national parks (Muddus – 50,000 ha, Stora Sjöfallet – 127,800 ha, Sarek – 197,000 ha & Padjelanta – 198,400 ha), around 15 nature reserves, two “ekoparks”, and on the Norwegian side two national parks (Rugo – 17,000 ha & Junkerdal – 68,200 ha) with an additional mountain area of 103,500 ha proposed as a new national park. On the Swedish side, all of the protected areas are also designated as Natura 2000 sites, which also applies to the three rivers of Kalix, Råne and Pite. At the heart of the area, the 940,000 ha UNESCO Laponia World Heritage Area has been set aside to further enshrine the unique combination of natural and cultural values that have shaped this unique part of Europe.
For more information, read the Rewilding Lapland brochure: