The IBA covers the plains situated along the final 35 km of the River Helgeån before it enters the Baltic Sea, and incorporates two lakes (Araslövsjön and Hammarsjön). The river meadows are interspersed with grazed areas, bushes, reedbeds (Phragmites) and wet woodlands. Intensively managed agricultural land surrounds the IBA.
The site is important for breeding species of wet grassland and other riverine habitats. Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Haliaeetus albicilla (wintering) and Crex crex (breeding).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Threats include the effects of reductions in grazing intensity and nutrient-rich agricultural run-off. Reedbeds and sedge-beds are expanding rapidly, encroaching into areas of open water. Drainage and the filling-in of wet areas are additional threats. Government, local authorities and NGOs are working together to secure the site's future, and nature tourism is being promoted. The maintenance of grazing and mowing is a conservation priority. Only 5% of the Ramsar Site was protected by 1997. Census work and ringing are undertaken at the Nedre Helgeåns field station.
National Low International HighIBA overlaps with two Nature Reserves (totalling 283 ha). IBA overlaps with Private Reserve (80 ha). 5,300 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Helgeån, 5,500 ha). IBA overlaps with eight Special Protection Areas (totalling 2,062 ha).