The association that protects the archipelago

The association that protects the archipelago

For the first time, Åland has a management system for invasive alien species. In a new agreement with the Government of Åland, Archipelago Pares r.f. is tasked with combating raccoon dogs and American minks in the archipelago. The agreement covers the large nature reserves in the outer archipelago of 55,000 hectares, including thousands of islands, islets and skerries.

“Thanks to a few pilot years and the Paf funds, we can increase the intensity of our work on the islands and intensify the fight against raccoon dogs and American minks. They pose a major threat to biodiversity, particularly to ground-nesting seabirds,” says Lucas Wideman, chairman of the association.

The raccoon dog is listed on the EU’s list of invasive species, while the American mink has been defined as an invasive species in Finland. In practice, this means they must be controlled to prevent further damage to our ecosystems. Lucas Wideman describes them as an environmental problem rather than a wildlife management measure, as they threaten many rare protected species.

“This is the greatest risk of species extinction in the near future. We use a predator control team consisting of a handler and a specially trained dog that hunts mink and raccoon dogs. They travel from island to island, scouring the archipelago. A labour-intensive method that must take place between ice-out and the breeding season.”

Lucas Wideman, the chairman of Archipelago Pares, organises what is known as Ådsafari. Groups have the opportunity to visit the eider ducks and learn more about Archipelago Pares. This also helps keep the predators away.

The eider female, a symbolic value for the archipelago

The invasive predators, together with the growing eagle population, pose a major threat to species such as the eider duck, which has drastically declined in population over the past decades. The association’s central project Ådans Vänner (Friends of the eider female) aims to improve seabird management in the archipelago.

“Right from the very beginning, we looked a lot at the threats against the eider females. Predators and the depopulation of the archipelago are the major issues. The eider female relies one hundred per cent on its camouflage, which makes her an easy target during nesting period,” says Lucas Wideman.

The Båtskär island in the Åland archipelago has become a focal point for the association. A colony of around 220 resident eider females nest here each spring in the hope of survival. Throughout the entire breeding period, from late April to Midsummer, dedicated volunteers are present around the clock to monitor, inventory and protect the eider female and their young birds.

“It is naive to think that we can save the entire population around Åland. That is not the goal. However, we can develop methods for managing seabirds and protecting entire colonies, and we have succeeded in developing a good concept here,” says Lucas Wideman.

Archipelago Pares

The association Archipelago Pares (Latin for Friends of the Archipelago) was founded in 2017 by a group of friends who wanted to improve wildlife management in the Åland archipelago. Today, the organisation has almost 200 members. For more information please visit

The association Archipelago Pares is one of  our beneficiaries. See the whole list of Paf funds beneficiaries here.

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