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The new wetlands are teeming with life

Since 2000, around 40 wetlands have been re-established or newly created on Holmen’s land. The projects, which were carried out in collaboration with the Swedish Wetlands Fund, have resulted in new wetlands in forests and on agricultural land.

– “Our core aims are cleaner water and richer flora and fauna,” says biologist Sanna Strömberg with regard to Holmen Skog’s wetlands programme.

The contemporary lack of wetlands is due in part to the lake draining projects carried out in the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century to create new farmland. At the same time, major land drainage projects were carried out to expand forest land. This has led to animals and plants associated with wetlands losing their habitats and in many cases becoming endangered species. “As a biologist, it’s fantastic to see plants and animals establishing themselves and enriching the newly created wetland environments. It’s particularly striking how quickly the birdlife takes hold,” says Sanna Strömberg, who works with environmental and nature conservation issues at Holmen Skog.


The restoration work that Holmen Skog has carried out has usually involved digging out and damming up previously drained swampland. Building systems to regulate water levels prevents overgrowth, allowing biologically favourable environments to be created. A rule of thumb for an ideal wetland is “50-50-50”, which means 50 per cent water, 50 per cent grasses and a water depth of max 50 cm.

Creating a new wetland requires considerably more excavation and landscaping work. This generally takes place on agricultural land and involves creating a shallow dam, where water supply and run-off can be regulated.

Successful project

Jönsbolssjön in Uppland is one of several successful projects. The lake was drained in a number of stages, most recently in the 1930s, to create 60 hectares of agricultural land. Today it is a wetland with a wealth of natural assets. The newly created wetland has become a breeding ground, a migratory stop-off and an overwintering spot for whooper swans, curlews and a host of other wetland birds. Almost immediately, around 140 bird species were spotted, including the marsh sandpiper, which sparked huge interest among ornithologists, because its usual habitat is the boreal forest and steppes of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

To attract visitors, Holmen Skog has built birdwatching towers and put up information signs about the most common wetland species to be found here. The area is regularly grazed by sheep to promote the flora and prevent overgrowth.

Resurgence of endangered species

The wetlands mainly attract waders, ducks and geese, but also a number of small birds, tempted by the abundance of insects and other feed. Keen ornithologists will note that several endangered species have made a comeback. Sanna’s example is the resurgent horned grebe, a species under threat that has now found suitable breeding grounds in the new wetlands.

“These shallow, fish-free wetlands appear to be a perfect match for the horned grebe. They rely on areas of water where competition for food is not too fierce and where the pike is not a threat to their young,” says Sanna.

As well as re-establishing biodiversity, the wetlands perform an important role as a natural water treatment plant, particularly on farmland. By slowing down the water flows into the lakes and sea, the wetlands act as biological water purifiers and nutrient traps, holding on to mineral nutrients and nitrogen in particuar. This helps to counter both eutrophication and dead zones.

Popular for recreation

Reinstatement of wetlands can also be said to have a social dimension, since they become popular destinations, particularly for birdwatchers, but also for other nature lovers. Although this is not the primary objective, Holmen Skog has selected a number of wetland areas where signing, birdwatching towers and other measures have been used to try to encourage visits. “Many of these areas are set in extremely beautiful surroundings. If they can provide the public with outdoor experiences and recreation, that’s a very good thing,” concludes Sanna Strömberg.


Biologist Sanna Strömberg at the reinstated wetland in Häradstorp outside Finspång. It has become a popular place for both birds and ornithologists, who have observed bird species such as the whooper swan, goldeneye, blackthroated diver, sea eagle and lapwing.



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The Holmen Group

Holmen is a forest industry group that manufactures printing paper, paperboard and sawn timber and runs forestry and energy production operations. The company’s extensive forest holdings and its high proportion of energy production are strategically important resources for its future growth.

Holmen AB

Tel: 08-666 21 00

E-post: info@holmen.com

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