Sustainable use and conservation of natural and cultural resources

The subject of this project will be to explore the forest as a resource by studying northern Gotland (Filehajdar, Ojnare), recreational fishing by valuation and management of fishery resources, and harbours by looking closer at the fishing port of Herrvik and its cultural environment. They represent three geographically specific sustainability contexts, whose socio-economic, cultural, and natural complexity highlight the challenges for the sustainable utilisation of natural resources and in particular sustainable visits. Recreational fishing constitutes an important part of Gotland’s hospitality industry, and the resource base is highly influenced by fishing pressure and the activities of landowners, NGOs and authorities in relation to watercourses and restoration projects. Over the past decades, forest resources (timber, water, limestone, nature and outdoor life) have attracted considerable media attention both locally and internationally. Herrvik is a good example of a vibrant harbour environment where many different interests converge, including fish processing, historically and culturally valuable settlements, and tourism.


In the debate about Gotland as a destination, the heavy dependence of the hospitality industry on a set of specific and scarce natural and cultural resources is frequently mentioned. To understand the implication of sustainable visits or what they should be, a deeper understanding of different types of utilisation (use, tapping, consumption, exploitation) and long-term conservation of these resources is required. In practice, the relationship between utilisation and conservation is marred by conflicting interests and notions emanating from political decision-making processes, scientific analyses of environmental changes, or the local community and its culturally and socially coded forms of life. Sustainable management of the forest, the harbour and fish stocks places specific demands on landowners, government agencies and NGOs.

The three projects will contribute with specific knowledge on how the complex issue of resources is reflected in different activities and environments. The members of the research team are involved in research and teaching with strong links to the issue, and they pool competences ranging from ethnology, human geography, and cultural conservation to environmental sciences. In the phase for which we are now looking for funding, we intend to dedicate ourselves to work out the empirical, theoretical, and methodological details of the various resource-related research questions. This will be done primarily with the help of the analyses of documents (government reports, administrative plans, local media), interviews with stakeholders and scientific literature.

The forest

The special forest environments on Gotland have long been a setting for conflicts of interest around ecological values and experiences, forestry, freshwater and limestone resources. The forest will explore emotionally charged narratives and scientific analyses relating to provision, sustainability and nature both from an historical as well as a contemporary perspective. What values are held by the forest and its resources, especially viewed from the perspective of everyday life and that of visitors? How were the forest habitats on Gotland utilised and preserved in the past and how are they managed today? How are different types of sustainability expressed in the implementation of forest management? 

Researchers in charge: Tom Mels and Anders Häggström

Recreational fisheries

The Recreational fisheries project focuses on sustainability, governance and management of fisheries activities and the resource base (fish stocks and supporting ecosystems). The management and economic valuation of fish species associated with restoration activities and ecosystem services are crucial aspects for the possibility of Gotland in promoting the island as a destination for recreational fisheries. What values are represented by recreational fish stocks, especially in terms of cultural and other ecosystem services?  How is the stock of fish species utilised and preserved along Gotland coastal zones?  What different categories of users/fishers exist and how are they situated in terms of knowledge on and acceptance of future sustainable management and regulations? 

Researchers in charge: Patrik Rönnbäck and Tom Mels


Harbours will focus on Herrvik, which is included in the national interests of Sweden’s cultural heritage. The port has plans for a new plant that will process different fish species, such as ide. The area is also of current interest as a result of rural development along beachfronts contemplated in the new master plan, and it is close to the island of Östergarnsholm and its old lighthouse that is now a listed building.

  1. What values and development opportunities does the harbour of Herrvik have for different stakeholders (visitors, businesses and local community)?
  2. What do the planning and development of the activities in and around the local community of Herrvik and its cultural environment look like?
  3. How will sustainability emerge in the ongoing development of Herrvik, especially considering that the environment and its resources are subject to restrictions? 

Researchers in charge: Anna Karlström, Susanne Stenbacka and Ann-Marie Rosenqvist