The Foundation was founded in 1959 when the future of the Stockholm archipelago seemed bleak. The population had been halved in the preceding 20 years. Schools and shops in the archipelago were closing down. Young people were moving to the mainland to find work. The resident of the islands were becoming older.
The county administrative board carried out a major inquiry, as did also the county council. For the first time, the government was persuaded to allocate regional development funds to a sparsely populated area in a county with an urban centre. The Archipelago Foundation can be seen as one of the first initiatives designed to bring new life to the archipelago. Three of the most important players in the county were present at the founding meeting in 1959: the county administrative board, the county council, and the city of Stockholm. All of the archipelago municipalities soon became active members of the Foundation, and subsequently all municipalities in the county.
Leisure areas and employment
The task of the Foundation was to reverse the negative trend. Outdoor leisure activities and recreation had started to attract attention, but the founding players agreed that the Foundation was not only to satisfy the recreational needs of people from the city and boat owners, but also the needs of the archipelago population for employment opportunities. The archipelago in this way acquired a totally new job title – the rangers!
Today, over 50 years later, the Archipelago Foundation owns approximately 12% of the archipelago, and manages more. The Foundation is the largest employer in the archipelago, with over 60 employees. Most of these work as rangers and conservation officers. In addition, hundreds of people work in the leased facilities in the Foundation´s nature reserves, in such activities as hotels, hostels, inns, tourist cabins and guest harbours. All of the acquisitions of the Foundation have been carried out mainly to ensure that land is available for continued agriculture and conservation. At the same time, however, wide-ranging outdoor leisure activities have acquired land for wandering, while boat owners have acquired natural harbours and miles of beaches.
Renewal in 1998
A major renewal took place in 1998 when the Archipelago Foundation was restructured following a decision from Stockholm city to donate all of its lands in the archipelago to the Foundation. The amount of land owned was doubled overnight, and the Foundation acquired a large number of tourist facilities. These included the islands of Grinda, Finnhamn, Lidö, Rånö, Nåttarö and the Gålö peninsula.
Mats Hulth and Bosse Ringholm, who had been involved in the transfer, said in association with the founding of the new foundation on 1 January 1998: “The new Archipelago Foundation will form the basis for more long-term work for a living archipelago. The natural world will be conserved and those living in the archipelago will have new opportunities for making a living, fully in the spirit of ecotourism, while the new Archipelago Foundation will give everybody the chance to continue to explore the most beautiful archipelago in the world.”