LIFE Project Cover Photo

Restoration of Boreal Nordic Rivers

Reference: LIFE15 NAT/SE/000892 | Acronym: ReBorN LIFE



The economies of the counties Västerbotten and Norrbotten are linked to their forests. However, the activities of the forest products industry can have negative impacts on protected species, habitats and biodiversity.

The rivers targeted by this project have been heavily influenced by measures taken to facilitate large-scale timber floating during the 19th and 20th centuries. Extensive efforts were made to narrow and channel all watercourses, blocking side channels, and removing boulders and tree trunks from the main channel. Drainage ditches were linked to the rivers and while such ditches are no longer dug, most of the old ditches remain and have long-lasting effects on both forests and watercourses. The current forestry practices may be detrimental to the rivers of the forest landscape. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the riparian forest, which is very efficient in preventing particles and nutrients from flushing out into streams, is often cut down or severely damaged. Clear-cutting along streams leads to an increase of solar exposure and rising water temperature. The ecological status of many of the stretches of river targeted by this project is no better than ‘moderate’.

By restoring rivers to a more natural state, this project will contribute to the implementation of the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive.


The ReBorN LIFE project has two main objectives:

  • To improve the conservation status of habitats and species of Community interest, as defined in the Habitats Directive; and
  • To enhance previously modified bodies of water with the aim of achieving good ecological status, in accordance with the Water Framework Directive.
  • The habitats concerned are Fennoscandian natural rivers and watercourses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation – two habitat types whose conservation status was assessed as ‘inadequate’ in the boreal region of Sweden in both 2007 and 2013. Project actions will take place in six river systems of the boreal region, all of which are Natura 2000 network sites. The target species are the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and European otter (Lutra lutra).

    Specific objectives include:

  • Restoring previously cleared stretches of river by moving large boulders from the surrounding forest into the river, and opening previously blocked side channels by removing boulders and stone walls;
  • Restoring spawning grounds using gravel sediment (approximately one spawning site every 100 metres of river); and
  • Informing foresters and other stakeholders of conservation best practice regarding riparian buffer zones, creek crossings and forest roads, as well as about relatively easy methods to protect watercourses from damage when performing cutting and soil treatment.

    Expected results: The project expects to reverse the effects of previous alterations for timber floating, restoring some 202 km of the target rivers and creating 2 300 spawning grounds for salmon and trout. Specific impacts in the restored areas will include:

  • More heterogenous river channel geometry and increased hydraulic roughness;
  • A decreased risk of downstream flooding (lower peak discharge and increased floodplain connectivity);
  • A 10% increase in juvenile salmon densities (five-year average) at the end of the project and at least a 30% increase by five years after the project;
  • At least 50% of 30 monitored spawning grounds should show signs of salmon or trout spawning by the end of the project;
  • A 10% increase in glochidial infection rates among trout in the project area (indicative of an increase in the freshwater pearl mussel population);
  • A 20% increase in the range of the European otter in the project areas (linked to the increase in salmon and trout);
  • An increase in revenue through the sale of more salmon and trout fishing licences; and
  • At least 450 foresters will be aware of forestry best practice methods for the protection of rivers and the plugging of old ditches.


    Reference: LIFE15 NAT/SE/000892
    Acronym: ReBorN LIFE
    Start Date: 07/07/2016
    End Date: 31/03/2022
    Total Eligible Budget: 13,052,875 €
    EU Contribution: 7,829,810 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: County Administrative Board of Vsterbotten
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: Storgatan 71 B, 90186, Ume, Sverige
    Contact Person: Johanna HAGGLUND
    Email: Send Email
    Website: Visit Website

    LIFE Project Map



    • Freshwater


    • freshwater ecosystem
    • river
    • forestry
    • restoration measure
    • flood control


    • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)
    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)


    • 3210 - Fennoscandian natural rivers
    • 3260 - Water courses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation


    • Lutra lutra
    • Salmo salar
    • Margaritifera margaritifera


    Type Code Name
    SCI SE0810433 Lögdeälven
    SCI SE0820430 Torne och Kalix älvsystem
    SCI SE0820431 Råneälven
    SCI SE0820432 Byskeälven
    SCI SE0820433 Åbyälven
    SCI SE0820434 Piteälven


    Name Type
    County Administrative Board of Vsterbotten Coordinator
    Swedish Forest Agency, Sweden Participant
    Municipality of Nordmaling, Sweden Participant
    County Administrative Board of Norrbotten, Sweden Participant
    Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, Sweden Participant
    Municipality of Gällivare, Sweden Participant