Kristianstad, in Scania, Converts a Risk into a Major Opportunity

Kristianstad, a former bastion by the sea, threatened by weather conditions.
Approches UNESCO and creates Vattenriket that becomes a tourist magnet.
A nature walk in the footsteps of Carl von Linné.

Including pictures:
Weather Conditions Challenges Kristianstad

Kristianstad served originally, in 1617, as a protective bastion on a peninsula and this location has given the city specific problems in times of heavy weather conditions with risks of becoming flooded. Draining of land areas started in the 19th century and walls were built to keep the water off the city centre. Effective pumps have also been installed. As a result the lowest point in Sweden, 2,41 meters below sea level, can be found in Kristianstad. The present city hospital with neighboring area is situated on a former sea floor. Only in 2002 a critical situation emerged when the water level rose 2,15 meters above sea level and the protective wall at Hammarslund was close to collapsing. To save the situation 50.000 ton of rock was transported to the critical section over five days (source: The water flow in river Helge and the sea is now controlled with the help of Flood Watch that gives ten day prognoses to the authorities. If required a siren called "hesa Fredrik" (hoarse Frederic) will alert the citizens to any danger.

Converting a risk into an opportunity

This area so close to the sea not only carry risks but also possibilities and the option has been utilized by making an application to UNESCO in order to gain a Biosphere Reserve status for what now is called Vattenriket. The status, "designated to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and the nature", was granted only in 2006 and the present Naturum Visitor Center was opened as recently as 2010. Vattenriket has been a success from the beginning with more than 100.000 visitors in its first year. (Source:

The recent action plan has included e.g. protection of sandy grasslands, expansion of the knowledge of the ecosystems in river Helge and the lakes, development of ecotourism on land and sea as well as specific projects also e.g. concerning the eels and forest management. The development of the Visitor Centre as the gateway into Vattenriket has produced many activities like eagle and crane watching, water safaris, exhibitions, hiking routes, bird watching, fishing and other things. As we have learned while living here, typically for Sweden, many of the places are accessible for people with disabilities.

The Carl von Linné Walk

A visit into Kristianstad today gave me an opportunity to follow the footsteps of famous Carl von Linné where he walked some 250 years ago observing the surrounding nature. The six kilometer long route starts from the Visitor Centre and makes a full circle returning to the same spot. Along the route are remnants of an old fortress, Härlövsborg, from the days of King Karl XI who lay siege to Kristianstad during the Danish-Swedish war in 1675-1679 when the city was under Danish rule.

The following interesting spot is, Lillöhus, that was a medieval stronghold owned by the Tott family. It was also attacked and destroyed by Swedish troops in 1658 to be rediscovered only in the 1940's. Today it carries an exhibition of the medieval life in Lillöhus.

The Linné Walk is very well designed and easy to walk on. There are resting places along the route wher you can enjoy your picnic coffee while observing the surrounding nature. Towards the end of the Walk the route follows river Helge and reaches a small museum, Kanalhuset, before ending at the visitor centre.
Spring time will bring large amount of cranes to the area (mainly to Pulken). The regional news reported more than 2000 cranes landing in 2013 that were offered special feeding to protect the surrounding fields.


Kristianstad, with its city center nominated as the center of the year 2014 now have major tourist attraction to serve Northern Europe.

Kristianstad now also possess massive know-how in handling flood situations.