Årsta, Sweden

SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 15: Life on land

Årstaskogen is a more than 150-year-old forest covering 57 acres in the Årsta area just south of Södermalm in central Stockholm with particular ecological significance to the city, hosting many endangered animal species and plants.

In June 2017, the City of Stockholm Development Administration (Exploateringskontoret) approved a report suggesting an altered border of the Årsta Forest Nature Reserve. Simultaneously, the City of Stockholm was planning the construction of 800–1000 apartments in the area outside these altered borders. This was the starting point for the protest network Bevara Årstaskogen (”Preserve Årsta Forest”, BÅ).

BÅ uses petitions, crowdfunding, traditional and social media exhibitions of the issue, and dialogue with high-level decision-makers in order to gain the attention and influence needed to preserve the nature reserve. For example, students of Stockholm University published a thesis on the subject. In January 2018, the City of Stockholm announced its decision to make Årsta forest an official nature reserve, which was not deemed sufficient by BÅ and other critics. A petition in June 2018 gathered 13 834 signatures according to the website. The Centre Party of Stockholm’s (then) political opposition announced the preservation of Årstaskogen as an election issue before the September 2018 local elections in the City of Stockholm, in which the party grew three- fold.

The main issue concerns the construction of apartments in what is considered a precious green area in south-central Stockholm; these apartments are also estimated to have high rental prices. Thus, local social and ecological values are perceived by BÅ to be under threat from an inconsiderate public administration. Instead, the initiative recommends making the nature reserve more accessible, e.g. by laying down pathways and putting upsigns, as well as generally prioritising building more affordable rental apartments instead of launching expensive construction projects on previously untouched land.

Related SDGs
  • 11.4 Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage
  • 15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
  • 15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
  • 15.5 Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species
  • 15.9 By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts
Further reading

Bevara Årstaskogen 

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Project: Stockholm Co-creation