Södviks sjömarker (shoreline wetlands)
Unique coastal meadows
Some of the county’s most beautiful and most valuable coastal meadows, created by millennia of grazing, are located along the shores of Södvik bay in north eastern Öland. The area is a bird habitat of international class.
The area’s character
The coastline between Södvik and Östra Vässby differs markedly from the rest of the island’s shores. The coast here is shallow and has more little inlets than usual. Out in the bay there are many small islands and shallows. What is today dry land was, for a long time, below sea-level. The extremely flat shores mean that the coastal meadows are unusually wide and varied. The wetlands have been shaped by humans who have let their cows and sheep graze here. The area currently consists of four nature reserves: Södvik, Hjälmstad, Marsjö and Östra Vässby.
Valuable bird habitats
Södvik is a classic place for birds and annually attracts large crowds of birdwatchers. Many migratory birds rest here, especially during the autumn. These include red knot, little stint, grey plover and Brent goose. Examples of wading birds that breed in the area are dunlin, northern lapwing, common ringed plover and common redshank. The coastal wetlands also provide habitats for pied avocets and black-tailed godwits. When the avocet returned to Öland in the 1940s, it was at Södvik that it began to breed, although the number of breeding pairs has declined in recent years.
The foreshore area is the home of plants such as strawberry clover, silverweed, seaside centaury and sea-milkwort. The slightly elevated grazing areas are preferred by bird’s-eye primrose, blue moor grass, breckland thyme and mountain clover. The endemic species Baltic sea wormwood grows in the parts of the shoreline meadows that sometimes dry out. Slender hare’s-ear, common glasswort and annual sea-blite are other plants that feature in the area.
Traces of human settlement from bygone times
Ancient sites such as old enclosures and burial sites are found mainly in the western parts of the area, which were the first to rise out of the sea. The coastal wetlands were particularly rich in terms of providing wood and good grazing as well as fish and wild animals.
Size: Östra Vässby 222 ha (549 acres), Marsjö 140 ha (346 acres), Hjälmstad 35 ha (86 acres), Södvik 79 ha (195 acres).
Years of creation: 2000 and 2001
Purpose: To preserve the grazing tradition and the habitats suitable for the flora and fauna of the coastal wetlands. The area is part of Natura 2000, the EU’s ecological network of protected areas.
Turn off route 136 on northern Öland at Södvik. Take a small road in a south easterly direction for about 2 km until you reach the car park and information at Södvik bay.
GPS coordinates to the parking lot WGS 84 decimal (lat, long): 57.04359 , 16.90890
Map: Naturcentrum AB, Stenungsund
Download: the County administrative boards brochure over (in Swedish only) (670 kB): Södviks Sjömarker
Download: the entire brochure (in Swedish only) ( (19 MB): Utflyktsguide Öland
© Lantmäteriverket, Ur Geografiska Sverigedata, översiktskartan Dnr. 106-2004/188”
Source: County Administrative Board, Kalmar