River Helge å Model Forest

In a nutshell

The initiative to create a Model Forest in Helgeån basin was taken by the economic forest owner’s association Södra, Biosphere Reserve Vattenriket and the Swedish Forest Agency. Inspired by Vilhelmina Model Forest (established in Sweden since 2014), these stakeholders saw an opportunity to handle the main issues they were facing with increased brownification of the water bodies and flooding in the region, and their connection with the land use.

The overall goal of the River Helge å Model Forest is to create a neutral forum for participation and collaboration between all the different landscape stakeholders, ensure dialogue to address common issues and promote research and practice for new knowledge.


Helge å is Scania’s largest watercourse. Scania, also known as Skåne, is the southernmost province of Sweden. River Helge å Model Forest includes municipalities in northeastern Skåne and southern parts of the province Kronoberg with a shift from open agricultural landscapes to dense forests with extensive peatlands. The area is rich in lakes and streams and extends in the north from the middle of Southern Sweden to the Baltic Sea in the southeast. The river basin consists of 55% forest, 15% arable land, 7% pastures and 19% other land. The total timber volume is estimated to be 44 million cubic meters. Coniferous trees such as spruce and pine dominate the area today while the deciduous forests are dominated by birch species but where the hardwood trees beech and oak play a crucial role for the biodiversity within the river basin.

The population in the area is less dense than in the surrounding landscape.  Small companies dominate the private business sector except for the multinational company IKEA in Älmhult.

Self-employment is very important in the region, the manufacturing sector being the most prolific one, especially the food industry. Forestry within the area is characterized by many small forest properties (around 40 hectares), with few large estates and public owned forests. The agricultural sector is relatively large compared to the national average. The tourist industry is in strong growth, the Biosphere Reserve Vattenriket having played a large role in that.


River Helge å Model Forest is a non-profit organization. The Swedish Forest Agency is playing an important role in its creation.

A coordinator ensures the completion of the projects and the respect of model forest’s principles and attributes, while the mission and prioritized actions are convened by a steering committee. A working committee is on the way to divided into smaller thematic working groups, performs the activities and ensure the objectives are met.

Partners are representatives from community organizations, Helgeån Water Council, the Biosphere Reserve Vattenriket, the forestry sector, universities and schools, non-profit organizations and private landowners. The common denominator is an interest to review our woodland and water use with a sustainable perspective.


Strategic goals:

  • Building a resilient social network;
  • Having clean water;
  • Experiencing sustainable land use;
  • Communicating River Helge å Model Forest efforts with the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Key actions in place to reach these goals:

  • Collaboration with universities in the key issues;
  • Broaden the partnership and network;
  • Finding financing to fulfill the goals in the strategic plan.

Key impacts:

  • Obtaining resources for local initiatives;
  • New knowledge about the brownification processes;
  • River Helge å Model Forest being used by the forest agency as an example of landscape scale collaboration.

Learn more about River Helge å Model Forest

News article: TV: Samarbete utmed Helge å (in Swedish)




Southern region

Area (ha):


Regional affiliation:

Northern Europe and Russia

Year joined IMFN:


Number of inhabitants:


Contact information

Email: Jan Lanner, Jan.lanner@skogsstyrelsen.se

Website: http://helgeamodelforest.se/about-2/

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