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Continued use of ecosystems: Challenges for fishing and farming communities

Although there have been great changes in the lives and livelihoods of people in the Baltic Sea archipelago during the last century, the lives of local inhabitants are still strongly linked to the local nature, culture, and history. Customary use of local ecosystems provides resources for the household, but it is also an important carrier of local identity, culture, and way of life. Fishing, hunting, and harvesting of berries, mushrooms, etc., function as cultural and intergenerational glue for the local community context even today. This paper reflects upon the cultural and social importance of the small scale and informal economy in the Swedish Baltic Sea archipelago for sustainability living local communities, some of the present challenges to its continuation, and the potentials for positive change. It is based on participatory research on customary use of biodiversity and local and traditional knowledge in the Kalix Archipelago in the northern Bothnian Bay and in the Sankt Anna Archipelago in the Baltic Sea proper.

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