River Bräkneån is one of two major rivers in Blekinge County with a catchment area of about 458 square kilometers. Major lakes within the catchment area are located in the north within Kronoberg County. Although the river largely flows through lake-rich landscapes, the main stream has only direct contact with one lake. The river valley is of national interest for Swedish nature conservation. Approximately 30% of Bräkneån River is located within the continental region, while 70% is located within the boreal region. Bräkneån Natura 2000 area stretches from the Baltic Sea up to the Kronoberg County border in the north. The Natura 2000 area includes only the water and no riparian or protection zones are included.
Along the river there are several rapids, with the longest and strongest rapids, just south of the county border. Further down stream Bräkneån River has long, unbroken deep-water routes as well as an extended fully developed meandering part. For a long time the water has been utilized in various ways by man. However, regulated stretches have never been long, and on a large scale, the river’s natural course has been retained over time. Along the river are several older dams and some dams still in use were fish passages have been built. The river has also been cleared of larger stones for timber floating.
Bräkneån River valley is characterized by a very marked topography. In the north, the river runs through an almost unbroken deep rift valley. Sometimes the rift widens and vast meadows cover the broad valley. North of the municipality of Bräkne-Hoby the catchment area consists mainly of coniferous forest, which south of Bräkne-Hoby changes into mainly farmland. Naturally, even the river changes character, from an oligotrophic to a eutrophic watercourse. Water vegetation often consists of narrow belts of vegetation close to the shore, which are dominated by one or a few plant species such as the water horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile), common reed (Phragmites australis), water clover (Menyanthes trifoliata) and rush (Schoenoplectus lacustris). Typical species of the oligotrophic part are for example royal fern (Osmunda regalis), great spearwort (Ranunculus lingua), alternate water-milfoil (Myriophyllum alterniflorum), and willow moss (Fontnalis sp.). Claspingleaf pondweed (Potamogeton perfoliatus), waterweed (Elodea canadensis) and cowbane (Cicuta virosa) are examples of typical species of the eutrophic part.
The river holds several migratory fish species such as brown trout (Salmo trutta), eel (Anguilla anguilla), Whitefish (Coregonus sp.) and Minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus). The red-listed, threatened species, otter (Lutra lutra) and agile frog (Rana dalmatina) have been observed, as well as the moss Dichelyma capillaceum. Even bird life is rich, among others, dipper (Cinclus cinclus), kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) and gray wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) are found along the river.
Main purpose of the Natura 2000 area is to contribute to maintain favourable conservation status at bio-geographic level for the species Freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera), The Thick shelled river mussel (Unio crassus) and 1355 Otter (Lutra lutra), and for the habitat type Rivers with floating leaf vegetation or aquatic mosses. The area will also help to maintain favourable conservation status at biogeographic level of the moss species Dichelyma capillaceum. The lower section of the Bräkneån River holds one of two reproducing populations of Unio crassus in Blekinge County. The population constitutes a high conservation value since it occurs in a mixed population together with freshwater pearl mussel, which is regarded as fairly unique . However, several obstacles prevent the mussel from re-colonizing upper parts of the river system. Therefore, the UC4LIFE-related actions will focus p rimnarly on improving connetcivity, water and habitat quality by site specific restoration measures.
Read more(?): River Bräkneån-conservation plan (written in Swedish)