Nets, nature and national parks

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Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Invitation to Bohuslän by Evert Taube

Like blue-grey swell the Bohus mountains roll in desolate majesty against the rim of the Sea. But between its ancient bare hills is fertile land and ancient pastures. Here penetrates the Skagerrak with blue wedges and strong currents flow clear as crystal. And birch and willow stand lush and ash and oak by the barn and stables.

Come, Rönnerdahl to Ängön now in spring! now eider, shelduck and gulls nest. Come out to the beauty of desolate beaches, with sloe and hawthorn, bent deeply by storm, with old wrecks moulded green, but whose broken hulls carry the form of the wave. Where between the sea and land, on moving sand, on waving seaweed, you can walk alone, and live in the furthest times of the past and in your family's future also.

There may no longer be cod to fish in the Koster Sea but Evert Taube would be pleased to see that local people are working together to protect and enhance this area through the creation of a new national park. As a result, both locals and visitors can continue to enjoy much of the nature Taube described so poetically in his invitation to Bohuslän, and can ensure that the rich biodiversity in and around the park is conserved for the next one hundred years and beyond.

Evert Taube, one of Sweden's most famous folk-musicians and authors, was born and lived for much of his life on the west coast of Sweden. In his Invitation to Bohuslän, he captures the calm, beauty, history and rich nature that attracts many people to this area. The sheltered location, rocky coast, large and small islands, rolling hills and fertile valleys of Bohuslän province on the border with Norway have been occupied for thousands of years by farmers and fishermen.

It is now one of Sweden's main tourist destinations. It is also the site of Sweden's first marine national park. The creation of this park, the Kosterhavet (Koster Sea) National Park, has been a long time in the making. Initial proposals for a marine reserve in 1979 and for a marine national park in 1989 were not pursued following opposition from local people including fishermen. Both of these proposals had been introduced top-down from the national authorities in Stockholm, and although they contained laudable conservation goals, they were drafted with little consultation with local people and without much consideration of the wider social and economic consequences of creating a marine park in the area.

The Koster Sea, its islands and surrounding coastal area have been researched for decades and protected as part of various national and European schemes since 1985. The area attracts around 100 000 visitors each year, mainly from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.

The Koster Islands lie in the Skagerrak on the border between Norway and Sweden.

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