Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Strengthening Capacity to Manage Ecosystems Sustainably for Human Well-Being

Ecosystem Management and Social-Ecological Resilience in Kristianstads Vattenrike and River Helgeå catchment


Kristianstads Vattenrike covers 110 ha of the Helgeå River catchment area and the coastal regions of Hano Bay within the municipality of Kristianstad.

Lead institutions

The Centre for Research on Natural Resources and the Environment (CNM) at the University of Stockholm in collaboration with the Ecomuseum Kristianstads Vattenrike (EKV). There are about 20 local steward associations involved in ecosystem restoration and management projects as well as private landowners and local firms.

Contact information

  • Dr. Carl Folke
    Director, Center for Research on Natural Resources and Environment (CNM)
    Professor, Department of Systems Ecology
    Stockholm University
    S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
    Tel: 46 8 153665
    Fax: 46 8 6747036 

Focal issues

The overall goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity to manage semi-urban ecosystems sustainably for the wellbeing of human populations. Important questions include: Which role does local ecological knowledge play in management and how is it related to scientific knowledge? How are the institutional and organizational structures of management embedded at different organizational levels, to what extent do they allow for social or collaborative learning and how is legal competence linked to ecological scales? What are the potentials for improved cooperation to increase adaptive capacity to respond to change and uncertainty?

Project outputs

A number of scientific papers are currently being completed and will be published in scientific journals, books and also in journals in Swedish. Popular articles and dissemination of information through CNM and the information organization Albaeco is planned.

Key features of the assessment

Kristianstads Vattenrike (KV) is a dynamic semi-urban area of high biological and cultural-historical values, generating essential ecosystem services in South-Eastern Sweden. The ecosystem services are related to cultivation and annual floods, and are managed by a large network of local steward associations. The area was designated to have international importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1974, and is currently being evaluated to become a Unesco Man and Biosphere (MAB) Reserve.

The area includes Sweden’s largest wet grassland landscape used for grazing and hay-making. Many of the unique values of the area are associated with these social-ecological systems, which depend on both the proliferation of grazing and hay-making, and the annual flooding of Helgeå River. Much of the area is agricultural land; the sandy and clay soils around Kristianstad have been and still are important for agricultural production and the area is one of the most productive in Sweden. Important habitats include large beech forests, wet forests, willow bushes and sandy grasslands with unique flora and fauna. The area also holds the largest groundwater reserve in northern Europe.

There are about 20 local steward associations involved in ecosystem restoration and management projects as well as private landowners and local firms. These projects are generally initiated and facilitated by Ecomuseum Kristianstads Vattenrike (EKV), a small, informal municipality administration. EKV emerged in 1989, when land values were declining due to abandoned cultivation. Now, EKV provides an arena for conflict resolution and collaborates with international associations, national, regional and local authorities, non-profit associations and landowners. EKV also develops policy, goals and projects for KV. Thus, our assessment addresses local ecosystem knowledge as well as cross-scale issues.

Timeframe, budget

Our assessment will be carried out during the period 2002-2005.