Cooperation with Sweden
The Lapland Regional Environment Centre collaborates constantly with the Swedish counterparts as a part of ordinary everyday work. The cooperation covers i.e. environmental monitoring and project activities. The Centre has responsibility in Finland for the practical work needed for implementing the Water Framework Directive in the transboundary area of the River Torne.
The Environment Centre is well represented in the Finnish-Swedish Frontier Rivers Commission, which is a separate permit authority in the border area. The collaboration between the Lapland Regional Environment Centre and the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten in Sweden has resulted in, for example, the TRIWA web service in the internet.
The watercourse area of the River Torne (Tornionjoki)
The watercourse area of the River Torne is extensive in European terms. It measures 40,157 square kilometers in area and the area percentage of lakes is 4.6. The watercourse in comprised of two main rivers, the River Torne, whose source is located in Swedish territory, and the River Muonio, which flows along the border between Finland and Sweden. The distance from the northern point of the Lake Kilpisjärvi along the River Muonio and the River Torne to the sea is approximately 520 kilometres, the length of the whole Finnish-Swedish border being 565 km added with 32 km in the Bothnian Bay sea area.
The River Torne is one of the big river systems of the northern regions, known as the North Calotte area. The average discharge of the river is usually over 350 cubic metres per second. Anyhow, the discharge fluctuates not only from year to year but also from season to season very strongly; floods can rise as high as almost 3,000 cubic metres per second in May and June. The main channel of the River Torne is one of the last remaining free-floating big rivers in Europe, which is protected against construction. It provides the most important habitat area for the smolt production of Baltic salmon and sea trout.
Long traditional roots for communication
Traditionally, the cultural environment around the River Torne is characterized by agriculture, reindeer farming and fishing. There are only approximately 85,000 inhabitants in the watercourse area. One major population centre is situated in the upper reaches of the river in iron-mining town in Kiruna and the other is the twin town Tornio-Haparanda in the river mouth. The communication across the border has very strong traditional bonds of cooperation: Finnish is still spoken today along both sides of the river. There are historical reasons for this. Finland belonged to the Kingdom of Sweden until 1809 when, following a war between Sweden and Russia, it was annexed to Russia as an autonomous grand duchy. The border was drawn along the River Torne, in the middle of the river valley, which was a culturally and linguistically homogenous area.
Top of the page