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Biological diversity

Aside from airports, Swedavia also owns adjacent land. The division between land used for airport purposes and surrounding land varies from one airport to another.

It is generally known that the hayfields and pastureland in agricultural areas are valuable from an environmental resources perspective. However, only in recent years have other man-made environments, such as airports, been shown to have an abundance of plant and animal species.

Some new environments in the landscape, such as airports, railway station areas and power line access roads, are reminiscent of old agricultural landscapes. At an airport, 50 to 100 metres of grassland usually border each side of the take-off and landing runways. The grass is cut several times during the summer so that the height does not exceed 10–20 centimetres. Surfaces must also be free of obstacles for aircraft approaching the airport. The felling of trees creates scrubland where many butterfly species, for instance, thrive.

In 2010, an inventory of biological diversity at the airports and adjacent lands was begun. This included an inventory around Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Malmö Airport, where a number of areas of national, regional and local interest were identified.

The work inventorying environmental resources then continued with the land at Göteborg Landvetter Airport and the grass areas around the runway systems of Stockholm Arlanda, Bromma Stockholm Airport, Visby Airport, Åre Östersund Airport and Kiruna Airport. The natural inventories carried out will be worked into each airport’s development plan to ensure that consideration is given to areas with great biological diversity. For instance, at Visby Airport a total of 311 different species of plants and animals were found, with 20 of these on the European Red List of Threatened Species.

The natural meadowland and pasture near Stockholm Arlanda Airport has a rich variety of flora species and teeming insect life. One of the pastures with the greatest biodiversity in the county of Stockholm is located east of Lejden, on a gently undulating moraine hillscape with older firs, oaks, birches and junipers. It turns out that a number of species on the Red List of Swedish Species benefit from how the airport area is cared for and managed and from how surrounding natural land is cared for managed in partnership with local leaseholders. Photo: Michael Sanz.