The Kvarken World Natural Heritage Site Announcement
The Inauguration of the Kvarken World Heritage Site Celebrated with a People's Festival
Last year, on 16 July 2006, the Kvarken archipelago was included in the World Heritage Site list as a geologically valuable landscape formed by the ice age glaciers. Today saw the inauguration ceremony of the site and the launch of the people's festival in celebration of the event. The inauguration was performed by Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, the former President of Finland. He stated that inclusion in the World Heritage list is the highest international recognition that a nature area can receive.
The inauguration day started with a seminar with invited speakers representing Unesco, Finland, Sweden, the Kvarken region and the surrounding areas. Ms. Mechtild Rössler from Unesco reminded the audience that with the prestige of World Heritage status comes great responsibility. Minister of the Environment Paula Lehtomäki stated that protection of nature and the environment is a long-term task requiring great persistence. The Deputy County Governor Sten-Olov Altin from Sweden noted that Finland and Sweden now have a common World Natural Heritage site, as the Kvarken archipelago complements the High Coast in Sweden. Minister of Culture and Sport Stefan Wallin was very pleased to be able to take part in the inauguration ceremony, as he was Minister of the Environment when the status was received in 2006. Olav Jern, the Executive Director of the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia, emphasised the significance of the World Heritage site for regional development. The speeches can be read in their entirety on the inauguration ceremony website (address on the right of the page). The inauguration festivities included also the first public performance of the Kvarken World Heritage song by its writer Kari Laaksoharju and The Jam Quartet.
The official inauguration took place in the afternoon. President Martti Ahtisaari reminded the audience about the threats to the World Heritage sites around the world posed by war, terrorism, natural catastrophes and mass tourism. He was pleased to note that the common World Heritage of Sweden and Finland is in safe hands, and emphasised the importance of preserving and developing the area for the future. President Ahtisaari also unveiled the World Heritage commemorative stone. The stone bears a bronze plaque reading:
THE KVARKEN ARCHIPELAGO
WAS ADDED TO THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST ON THE 16TH OF JULY 2006. THIS NATURAL LANDSCAPE FORMED BY THE ICE AGE HAS OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUES TO BE PRESERVED AS A PART OF OUR COMMON NATURAL HERITAGE.
After the inauguration, the honorary guests had an opportunity to enjoy the World Heritage landscape from land, sea and air. The legacies of the ice age - the 'washboard' topography of the De Geer moraines and the lakes and forests formed by and adapted to the post-glacial land uplift - are best visible from the air.
But the festivities carried on on land as well. Svedjehamn in Björköby village is the main site of the festival with non-stop nature trails, archipelago cruises, food stalls and several different performances. The festival will culminate tonight with a World Heritage dance at Replot Bridge.
Minister Paula Lehtomäki's speech at the inauguration of the Kvarken World Natural Heritage site
For further information:
- Maria Hällund, 020 564 5294, Metsähallitus, email@example.com [maria hallund]
- Susanna Ollqvist, 020 564 5290, Metsähallitus, firstname.lastname@example.org [susanna ollqvist]
- Tiina Hietikko-Hautala, 0400 925 479, West Finland Regional Environment Centre, email@example.com [tiina hietikko-hautala]