If the number of endangered plant and animal species is used as a measure, the Archipelago Sea is the internationally most valuable area in Finland. The small-scaled archipelago consists of 41 000 islands and islets which contains a high number of different nature types and they constitute a highly interesting geology.
Most of the islands in the outer archipelago are treeless, but in the inner part there is forest. Groups of smaller and bigger islands which are surrounded by large bays are typical for the area.
The 3rd Salpausselkä ridge runs through the southern part of the area, which can be seen through a number of sandy islands. In the other parts the geology consists mostly of bed-rock.
Flora and fauna
The salinity is only 0,6 %. Rather few species have adapted to this brackish environment, but the high number of individuals witnesses a lively marine life. The fish species represent both saline and fresh water species.
On some islands the vegetation is highly flourishing because of the calcareous soil. On these islands there are also many rare plants (e.g. Elder-flowered orchid, Throatwort and Bloody Crane?s bill). The vegetation in the area has been studied and monitored since the 1920s.
Typical bird species include Common Eider, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Arctic Tern, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Barred Warbler and Rock Pipit. The White-tailed Eagle is nowadays the most visible bird of prey. The Archipelago Sea is also an internationally valuable area for migratory birds.
Razorbill. Photo: William Velmala.
Of marine mammals there are a few thousand Grey Seals and less than 200 Ringed Seals.’
Traditional livelihoods, small-scaled farming and fishing, have affected the landscape for centuries. The permanent population has decreased notably during the last decades which has lead to a strong decrease in the number of grazing animals. This has caused many grazing island to become overgrown.
The Archipelago National Park restores and conserves these biologically and culturally valuable traditional rural landscapes. Also the biosphere reserve has been running a few projects related to traditional landscapes during the last years. The goal has also been to combine local entrepreneurship and landscape management.