The Vindel River

The unregulated Vindel River is one of the four national rivers of Sweden. It runs from the alpine area, in the mountains of Vindelfjällen, by the border of Norway, all the way down to the coast through the entire municipality of Sorsele, covering over 8000 square kilometres. The river is the southernmost unregulated alpine river in Sweden, and has as such a unique character. The river has calm stretches of waters, large river lakes as well as wild rapids jumping with joy. The many villages along the river tells the story that the Vindel River has been important. Many of the villages in the  Vindel River valley are engaged in their community, and as a visitor here, you could for example take part in one of the happenings and festivals arranged by the villages.

During the 1960’s, there were plans to regulate the Vindel River. This led to a large protest, rallying artists, researchers and politicians from all over Sweden. In the early 70’s it was decided that the Vindel River was safe from regulation.

The river valley of Vindel River is a candidate for the UNESCO Man and the biosphere program. A biosphere reserve is an area with valuable cultural and biological resources, and serves as a model for ecosystem management and sustainable development.

The culture

The Vindel River valley represents a unique melting together of Sami and settler culture, affecting everything from food traditions to art and buildings. There is a living cultural heritage in the reindeer herding as well as the open farmlands. Along parts of the Vindelälven river valley, there’s cattle roaming free on the riverbanks. This is a way to keep the landscape open and a way to keep history alive, as well as keeping the biological diversity. The frozen river is still used by the Sami for moving reindeers, one of the longest unbroken cattle migrations – moving herds of cattle for long distances – known today.

The Vindel River has had a tremendous importance to the people living in its valley, and there are tracks from humans dating back 10 000 years. The Vindel River, as well as the other rivers in the municipality of Sorsele, has been a life nerve to the people living in the area: a source of food, occupation and recreation. Here you can find the Sami summer settlements, stone age hunting pits – holes in the ground used for hunting moose – and the settler timber houses – a witness to the work done to live in and by the surrounding nature. There are plenty of historical relics along the river valley, relics of for example hunting and farming, forestry and reindeer herding. Many of these are restored and kept for future generations.

The nature

The Vindel River is the southernmost alpine river in Sweden that’s still unregulated. This gives it a unique character, with a coastal flora – plants you’d normally only find along the coast of Sweden – almost all the way to the Vindelfjällen mountains, and vice versa.he river, being unregulated, has natural floods and low waters, and with it comes a rich biodiversity and zones where different plants grows relative to the water. Because of this, the river valley has a special vegetation, a very rich fauna and unique biological resources – some of them unique to the area, such as the large brown Ammarnäs trout – and threatened species such as the freshwater pearl mussels, wild salmon and otter. Because of this, the river valley enjoys several different kinds of protection of nature as well and cultural history. The Vindel River valley enjoys the same protection as other wetlands such as the Great Barrier Reef or Everglades. The river is also surrounded by a unique nature, such as in the Vindelfjällen mountains.

The community is working with the preservation, restoration and sustainable development of the natural resources in the river valley. Within tourism, this means that business, such as fishing, is done in a way that respects the biological resources.