The Association of Danish Small Islands
Sammenslutningen af Danske Småøer
Background and membership
- The Association of Danish Small Islands (Sammenslutningen af Danske Småøer) is an organization founded in 1974 by and democratically run by the islanders themselves.
- The Danish association organizes 27 small islands with all-year-populations from 10 to 937 inhabitants. All together these islands represent a population of 5.284 inhabitants (year 2006).
- The islands have not got any local authority, but are parts of larger municipalities.
- The main task is to preserve and develop the societies of the small islands as places for all-year-residents. To be the voice of the islanders in the political landscape.
- Criteria for being a member in the association is that the island has not got any bridge or other permanent connection to the mainland; that the island is not a independent local authority, such as a municipality and lastly that the islands have between 20 and 1200 all-year residents. Exemption can be made from the last criteria.
Islands in our organisation
The islands in the association are scattered all over Denmark, they are as follows (number of residents, year 2006, in paranthesis):
Agersø (247), Anholt (167), Askø (67), Avernakø (110), Baagø (34), Barsø (26), Birkholm (10), Bjørnø (39), Drejø (69), Egholm (48), Endelave (177), Fejø (619), Femø (144), Fur (912), Hjarnø (103), Hjortø (13), Lyø (130), Mandø (56, Nekselø (26), Omø (187), Orø (937), Sejerø (403), Skarø (36), Strynø (218), Tunø (115), Venø (211), Aarø (180)
Political structure in the organisation
- The Association of Danish Small Islands is run by a board with 8 members. Chairman and deputy chairman are elected for a two-year period at our yearly general meeting and the last six seats on the board rotate between the 27 islands.
- Each island selects one representative who participates in the annual meeting for representatives and the annual general meeting. The island representatives are important contact-persons between island and organisation and the 27 representatives are the highest authority in our organisation.
Structure of administration
- The association has got a secretariat which is situated on the island of Strynø. The secretariat has got two staff members, a leader of the secretariat (full time) and an assistant (part time).
Present projects and special activities in the Association of Danish Small Islands
- Having a LEADER+ coordinator which works to fullfill our aims with our LEADER+-strategies. Funded by national money and the LEADER+ program.
- Having an educational project which organizes small courses and networking seminars for islanders. Administered from our secretariat and funded by national money.
- We are also a partner in the Interreg IIIC-project “Inter island exchange project” together with other European islands organizations. And together with these European island organisations we have founded the European Small Island Federation (ESIN).
Funding of the organisation
- To run our organisation we get a yearly support from the Danish government at 1 mio. dkr. (about 130.000 EUR) which is our most important source of funding.
- We also get smaller amounts of money from other sources such as 60.000 dkr. (about 8.000 EUR) from the resident-organisations at the 27 small islands.
Funding for projects at the islands
- Fund administered by The Danish Forest and Nature Agency. 4,2 mio. dkr. (about 560.000 EUR) a year can be used for projects of cultural or job-creating character.
- Other national sources of funding which can be used by rural areas in general and therefore also by small islands.
- Our 27 islands are also included in EU-programs such as Objective 2 and LEADER+.
Ferry services and other kinds of transport
- Ferry services are financially supported by the national goverment, county and local muncipal with one third from each.
- Most of the ferries are owned and run by the municipals, sometimes in cooperation with the counties. Only very few are owned and run by private companies.
- Islanders have a seat on some of the Boards which have responsibility for ferries but not on all of them. In some of the ferry-boards islanders have a seat, in others not.
- Travelling is free for islanders but we have to pay for goods, cars, etc.
- One island has a regular airservice run by a private firm.
- Only a few of the islands have got public buses.
- Most of the piers and roads on islands are the responsiblity of the municipal. Although some of the islands have privately owned harbours. A few of the smallest islands do not have public roads.
- In general, satisfactory phone services at all islands.
- Possibility for ISDN-connection at most islands, at 17 of the islands possibilities for ADSL-connection. At the islands south of Funen is an islander establishing a wireless broadband-access.
- Many of the houses in the islands are used as summerhouses. There is national legislation which limits this but it is possible to get an exemption from this legislation. In Denmark it is not legal for foreign citizens to buy summerhouses.
- The Danish islands have not quite yet the same symptoms as some other countries; that house-prices at the islands increase rapidly. You can get a good house for 500.000 – 800.000 dkr. (65.000 – 110.000 Euro).
- It is often more difficult to get loans for buying houses on the islands than on the mainland.
- In some of our islands new houses are being built, some for sale and some for rent.
- It is our impression that there is a small but increasing interest to be an islander. We are working to strengthen these tendencies.
- Traditional employment such as farming, fishing (only at some islands) and crafts are still important in the islands, but do not employ many people and have not done so for the last 30 – 40 years.
- Many islanders travels to jobs on the mainland (depends of course of distance from mainland).
- Some islanders have jobs in local shops or in the services available at the island, such as school, church, ferry, nursing, etc.
- Tourism is increasing and in summertime many islanders are a part of this sector. Tourism is very important for the economic life of the islands.
- Increasing interest in distance-working based on IT.
Delivery of public service
- The municipal is responsible for roads, waste depositing, education until highschool level and for public health-service.
Access to health & education
- 7 islands have got a resident doctor
- 9 islands have got a resident nurse, some with more competence than others
- 14 of the islands have not got either resident doctor or nurse.
- Most of the islands have got elderly services, in some of the islands serviced by resident personel, other serviced from the mainland.
- Almost every island has the possibility to require helicopter in cases of serious emergency
- The ferry can be called in cases of emergency where the helicopter is not needed.
- Most of the islands have got voluntary fire services
- 11 of our islands have still got schools. Most of them only offer teaching for children in the age of 6 to 11 years. Older children have then to go to the mainland. Few islands have teaching for older children.