A large archipelago encompassing many hundreds (perhaps thousands) of islands at the boundary of the Bothnian Sea and the Bay of Bothnia. The smaller islands are treeless and rocky, the middle-sized ones hold deciduous trees, whilst the largest support mixed and coniferous forests, numerous fladas, lagoons, island lakes, and pools. The site includes extensive areas of open water, which are mainly shallow, stony and biologically productive. Fishing is extensive in many parts of the area and recreational developments are increasing.
Probably the most important area for island-breeding birds in Finland. The area supports the largest staging populations of many species in the country. An important bottleneck site for migrating Buteo lagopus (1,000-5,000 birds per season).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
A bird observatory has been maintained on Valassaaret island for many years; the main activity is observations of migration, especially in spring. Part of the area is a candidate SAC.
National Low International Partial14,860 ha of IBA covered by Private Protection Area (Valassaaret, 14,860 ha). 17,700 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Valassaaret and Björkögrunden, 17,700 ha). 128, 162 ha of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (Merenkurkun saaristo).
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Merenkurkku archipelago. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 03/04/2020.