Pioneer in focus: Vaxholm, Sweden - Tourism, Boaters and the Baltic Sea

Vaxholm Municipality in Sweden participated in the Baltic Sea City Accelerator. We take a deep dive to learn about the city, its Blue Vision and their work in the Accelerator programme. This article was originally published in our Baltic Sea City Accelerator magazine.

 

The Capital of the Archipelago

Located in the inner Stockholm archipelago Vaxholm is also referred to as the “Capital of the Archipelago.” The municipality has a smaller population compared to neighboring or similar coastal municipalities in Sweden, with approximately 50 percent of the land area composed of a national reserve, Bogesundslandet, where outdoor recreational activities are possible throughout the year.  

The extensive coastline and proximity to water makes Vaxholm an attractive municipality in which to live and visit. Vaxholm aims to preserve - and in some cases restore - its beaches, wetlands, and natural environment in general, not only for ecological reasons but also because of the many recreational and outdoor activities which provide valuable economic stimuli for the municipality.  

The Municipality of Vaxholm is faced with the challenges of expansion - the region around Stockholm is rapidly growing - while also preserving the environment and cultural attractions of a historic island community. Given its location, Vaxholm also acts as both a gateway and a destination for a growing number of residents and tourists from Stockholm keen to enjoy the archipelago. This has led to an increase in private boats and public ferry traffic, which also impacts the archipelago environment and the Baltic Sea’s ecosystem, particularly during the summer months, when the local population nearly triples.

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Vaxholm dives into its Blue Plan thanks to the BSCA!  

Vaxholm has for a long time recognised the importance of clean waters in and around the municipality and cooperates with neighboring municipalities on environmental protection efforts.

It’s important to make people understand that they can make a difference. Many environmental projects are successful thanks to engaged individuals
— Mia Sklenar, former Municipal Ecologists

As a pioneering participant in the Baltic Sea City Accelerator programme, Vaxholm has refined its strategies and action plans to work for a cleaner Baltic Sea. Through the programme, Vaxholm has  researched more extensively into certain aspects of its blue plan in order to develop a Local Baltic Sea Action Plan that focuses on the status of nutrient loads in their municipality, while identifying initiatives it can undertake. The vision driving this plan is one of Vaxholm as a community where the full benefits of water, its qualities, and the surrounding habitat are realized. The plan supports their goal of sustainable growth as the population increases, while also supporting a continuously growing tourism industry.  In order to reach good ecological status, Vaxholm must reduce their phosphorus output by 1 222 kg/year and their nitrogen by 49 776 kg/year.  The plan focuses on:

  • Best solution for wastewater treatment

  • Sustainable solutions for individual sewers

  • Restoration of wetlands, including water treatment

  • Location and requirements for boat pumping stations

     

Investing in wetland restoration to capture nutrients and recreational value

Eriksömaren is a wetland restoration project on the main island of Vaxholm. The wetland will function as a nutrient trap and stormwater filter, limiting water pollution that currently runs directly into an inland bay of the Baltic Sea. Today, Eriksömaren has a small “water mirror” which will be restored to create an area that not only serves to improve water quality but also to increase cultural and aesthetic value. Further, its location is alongside both a road and popular walking path that is used to travel from municipal and private residences to boating, camping and beach destinations; the efforts and results of this restoration project will be communicated to all who pass by. The restoration is scheduled to be completed in 2018 using funding the municipality has received from LOVA and LONA (federal contributions from the Swedish government).

 

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