Water Kingdom is an enhanced nature reserve adjacent to the city centre. The visitor centre offers educational tools and is a driver for local tourism.
The city of Kristianstad is built upon, and surrounded by, wetlands. The city was founded in the 17th century and when it grow, in the 19th century many wetlands were drained.
The work with the water kingdom started 30 years ago whit a few people that started to understand the value of the wetlands. The objective was to change the view of the municipality and city from “water sick” to “water-rich”. The restoration of the wetlands begun including accessibility for the public and efforts to include educational elements in the process.
The successful work led to the Water kingdom being recognised by UNESCO in 2005 as a biosphere reserve. Biosphere reserves are model areas for sustainable development with highly valued cultural and biological landscapes. Five years later, a large visitor center was built in the middle of the wetlands, only 500 meters from the central train station. It gives both local citizens and tourists the opportunity to visit, learn more about, and enjoy the area for free.
The focus of the work is Man and Biosphere, a concept where the interaction between land, water, city and citizens are of great importance.
The water kingdom is today of great value to anyone visiting. It has made Kristianstad city proud to be the face of a water-rich area and is now an important part of the municipal profile. It is a source of tourism, education, recreation and biodiversity.
An investment of 10 million euros was needed to build the visitor center. Currently around ten people work within this field at the municipality.
Evidence of success
A total of at least 150 hectares of wetlands have been reconstructed.
The visitor centre has had more than 950 000 visitors since opening.
The visitor centre is top-ranked on TripAdvisor for nature activities in Scania
The investment made by the municipality for the visitor centre has already been repaid through the increased tourism in the city.
Both new and old species have found their way back to the area and/or the number has stabilized, including Cranes, wild otters, catfish
One of the main difficulties was to ensure the funding for the building of the visitor center. It was a large investment for the municipality and getting it agreed by all politicians, parties, boards and the council was a challenge.
Potential for learning or transfer
The Water Kingdom shows the importance of changing the attitude to the surrounding environment when working to maintain and amplify ecosystems and ecosystem services. With fun and educational elements, it has created a great opportunity for tourism and contributed to the water-rich profile of the region.
The water kingdom is also good example of the importance of enthusiasts in the work. They are the ones with vision and drive, and without them, none of the current work with the water kingdom would have occurred.
The concept of man and biosphere is of great interest across Sweden and for UL2L partners. Even without the same resources, the concept of the interaction between land, water and city, as well as people, can be used successfully in other contexts.
UL2L partners had the chance to visit and hear about the work and gain inspiration. Already mentioned in previous workshops and lectures, the partners and stakeholders got information and prepared questions in advance.