The High Coast has been designated a World Heritage Site.
The High Coast (Höga Kusten) — The Ångermanland coast is the highest and steepest coast along the entire Baltic. Here the sea literally meets the mountains, but this was not always the case. During the last ice age the ice sheet of this area was maybe 3 kilometers thick and the earth´s crust was compressed. After it had melted away, the land was gently raised from the sea, and this isostatic uplift is still in progress on today. This is the main reason why the High Coast has been designated a World Heritage Site.
The UNESCO decision to place Sweden's 'Höga Kusten' on the World Heritage List was based on a complex global comparative analysis, on biological assets, the extraordinary natural phenomena of the landscape, the marine environment, the High Coast's culture-historical value and the regional government's intention to eco-label the area.
In June 1998 the Swedish Government decided to nominate the High Coast in the county of Västernorrland for inclusion on the World Heritage List. At the World Heritage Committee meeting in Marrakech in December 1999 the committee decided to defer the nomination. The grounds were that the area's unique characteristics were not described in sufficient detail.
In April 2000 additional reports and information was sent to Unesco. The new material had been jointly produced by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Västernorrland County Administrative Board, the Central Board of National Antiquities and the Geological Survey of Sweden.
In the Committee's decision an analysis of the High Coast's characteristics as an area of land uplift in comparison with other similar areas of the world and a comparison with the Quark area was requested. A brief summary of the global comparative study conducted showed
- The High Coast has the highest isostatic land uplift in the world after the latest glaciation. The relative land uplift is 285 metres above the present sea level. A comparison with all land uplift areas in the world after the latest glaciation shows that the only comparable area is at Hudson Bay in Canada where the equivalent uplift is 272 metres. The other areas with isostatic land uplift reach substantially lower levels. Furthermore, within many of these areas the isostatic land uplift can be difficult to distinguish from tectonic uplift.
- Due to the undulating terrain the distance between the highest shoreline in the High Coast and its present shoreline is only approximately 2 km whereas at Hudson Bay the distance is roughly 50 km. The land uplift's geological and biological impact is therefore exceptionally evident and concentrated in the High Coast while they are scattered and diffuse at Hudson Bay. The rate of land uplift in the High Coast is presently 8 mm per annum.
- The High Coast is the finest site for the study and understanding of the important processes that formed the glaciated and land uplift areas of the earth's surface and which have decisive significance in the explanation of:
- the distribution of various vegetation types above and below the highest shoreline
- the current division of cultivated land and forestland in the countryside. The High Coast is situated in a climatic area that permits a considerably wider spectrum of these conditions than Hudson Bay that is located in a permafrost region.
- The long-standing scientific studies of the High Coast mean that it is, to a greater extent than Hudson Bay, an area of global significance with respect to the interpretation of the geological as well as biological and culture-historical effects of the great inland ice sheets and land uplift.
The High Coast is located on the north eastern coast of Sweden, between Härnösand, Kramfors and Örn-