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Swedish farms gain UNESCO heritage status

Swedish farms gain UNESCO heritage status

Published: 01 Jul 2012 17:41 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Jul 2012 17:41 GMT+02:00

Seven farms in the region of Hälsingland in northern Sweden have been named as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, bringing a successful end to a long-running saga for the picturesque farmsteads.

The "Hälsingegårdar" can now take their place alongside the Statue of Liberty and the Egyptian pyramids after support from Colombia, South Africa, Switzerland, Japan, Estonia and Senegal, among others.

"The World Heritage Site declaration means that the heritage of the Hälsingland farmhouses can be preserved for all time," said Barbro Holmberg, governor of the county of Gavleborg in a statement.

UNESCO's decision is second time lucky for the "Hälsingegårdar" following a decision in 2009 to refer the application back to the Swedish government for a re-drafting.

The new draft highlighted the uniqueness of the grand 19th century houses - and that farmers in the region built larger and more numerous rooms for parties than farmers in the rest of the world.

The timber houses' often elaborate interior decorative paintings were also a crucial part of the application.

The seven farms in question are Kristofers in Stene, Gästgivars in Vallsta, Jon-Lars and Pallars in Långhed, Fågelsjö Gammelgård, Bommars in Letsbo and Erik-Anders in Asta.

The farms have little in common architecturally except their size and that they are made of wood. The sprawling farms were typically built in stages according to the needs of the farmer.

The Hälsingland farms are often linked to other buildings such as mills or water works, and many are open for guests, at least during the summer months.

The farms now take their place alongside the existing fourteen official UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sweden. These include Birka and Drottningholm Palace near Stockholm, as well as the High Coast and the Laponian area in the far north.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:13 July 1, 2012 by dizzymoe33
It is good that they are preserving these farms/buildings for the future.
06:55 July 2, 2012 by skogsbo
it sounds more like a poisoned chalice to me. Tourist income for 1 or 2 months per year, hands completely tied in terms of planning and farm evolution forever. The article even mentions that the farms were added to according to demand, no though they will be forbidden to change anything, build anything new etc.. Which make it even harder to compete in the modern world and keep with EU regulations etc.. they will find it even harder now. That's the problem with our generation, over the centuries buildings, village, towns have evolved, now we want to freeze them in time at a specific age. I don't suggest turning with world in all modern super structures, but places like these farms need to evolve 'sympathetically' for the sake of the individuals who have to live there, otherwise it just becomes a living museum. Rant over.
09:29 July 2, 2012 by Frobobbles
Uh oh now Al Qaida will tear the farms down!
15:03 July 2, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
@ Skogsbo I think "competing in the modern world" (as far as such farms are concerned) could well involve knocking down these lovely old buildings and creating the boring monoculture we see so much of nowadays.

I've visited Erik-Anders several times. The volunteers there attempt to recreate a taste of old Sweden - I'm sure they will now be thrilled by the UNESCO recognition they have got. As one of UNESCO's aims is to 'provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger', this is also quite an 'insurance policy'.

Just hope that a visit to these sites will not now become more 'regimented' than it has been in the past - would hate them to become like the UK's National Trust
21:45 July 2, 2012 by skogsbo
If they get the funding to make them viable via UNESCO then all well and good, but what about the rest,Sweden has literally thousands of small farms, whose hands are tied by their local councils as far as future developments go, I know because I have one. We can't erect any new buildings within about 100m of the house or barn, or even break soil to erect say a new garage of green house, we can't build anything slightly near the house or barns, because all the land is protected under nature2000 and more. So before you know it, you can't modify your exisiting premises to comply with modern EU animal welfare regs, but you have to keep animal to graze the environmentally critical meadows, see the catch22. Somewhere in the middle you need to make money to live of and fund the farce. We need to modify the ancient sewage outlet, which of course cross the critical land within 100m of the house. We had to Lännstyrelsen 3000kr to come out and tell us what we already knew about where we weren't allowed to put the pipe. It still not resolved yet. Once you get past the fluffy venues and smiley volunteers, conservation laws don't always have the outcome they were desgined for. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for conservation, that why we have this place, but you have to be able to live and make it work too, otherwise 100s of farms around Sweden will just be left to rot, along with the 1000s that already smothered by the forest, that no one ever sees.
08:42 July 5, 2012 by Tamm O'Shanter
#2 & 5

Anyone would sympathize with the problems people face, trying to make small farms economically viable.

However, I always thought a UNESCO 'World Heritage Site' listing would provide for such sites to be preserved and conserved (if anything) - rather than to become 'economically viable'

Very difficult when there is a 'pyramid-shaped' structure, in which only the farms/sites at the top of the pyramid get this UNESCO listing
13:29 July 6, 2012 by Åskar
This is not about the farms as farms but the farm buildings.
11:33 July 7, 2012 by Maggie Malay
.....and its also more about UNESCO - rather than the EU
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