We believe that without nature, we’d be nothing. That’s why we’ve set up the Arctic Fox Initiative. Honouring our namesake (Fjällräven is arctic fox in Swedish), we aim to support projects that help conserve nature or enable more people to spend time enjoying it.
Save the arctic fox with Stockholm University

In Scandinavia, Fjällräven's namesake (Fjällräven means arctic fox in Swedish) is threatened by climate change and has been on the brink of extinction for the last 100 years. Stockholm University is carrying out research and supplementary feeding and, together with help from Fjällräven, it is trying to give the Scandinavian arctic fox a brighter future.

  • Prevent the extinction of the Scandinavian arctic fox
  • Provide supplementary food
  • Study and monitor arctic fox populations
  • Support a research position at Stockholm University

The problem

At the start of the twentieth century, arctic foxes were hunted to the brink of extinction in Scandinavia. Their pelts were popular trading goods and the foxes were easy prey since they used the same dens, year after year. In 1928 they were classified as a protected species in Sweden, but the population has not been able to recover on its own. Additionally, they now face a threat that overshadows everything else: climate change. The ecosystem in the mountain tundra is changing. Lemmings and other rodents that are the main food source for Scandinavian arctic foxes, have a lower survival rate when there is an absence of snow to insulate their dens during the winter. Mild and varied winter weather includes rain that freezes, leaving a layer of ice over the terrain so rodents can’t get to their food. This can be a catastrophe for lemmings, and the predators who in turn prey upon them. Another consequence of climate change is that red foxes are now found further north than ever before, where they are taking over the arctic fox's territory. Today there are only about 300 adult arctic foxes alive in Sweden, Norway and Finland.

"Around the change of the millennium it was looking really bad. There were a total of just 50 arctic foxes in Sweden, Norway and Finland."

Anders Angerbjörn Professor, Stockholm University

The project

The Save the Arctic Fox project was created to help Professor Anders Angerbjörn at Stockholm University – who has been studying arctic foxes for 30 years.  He is trying to save the arctic fox population from extinction and instead begin to thrive. This is being done partly through supplementary feeding, but also with the continuous inventory of environmental data and data on the births and deaths of arctic foxes to evaluate the effects of the conservation efforts. Fjällräven contributes by co-financing a full time research position at the Zoology Department at Stockholm University in the studies of the ecology of the arctic fox. Fjällräven also supplies field equipment such as tents, heavy-duty field clothing for both summer and winter, backpacks and Primus stoves.

The goal is to help the arctic fox population grow to the point it can survive self-sufficiently, even though the ecosystem is increasingly dysfunctional due to climate change. Please read more here and here.

Results so far

Around the change of the millennium, there were only 50 arctic foxes in Sweden, Norway and Finland combined. Today there are about 200 in Sweden alone, largely owing to conservation efforts that are constantly being evaluated using scientific methods. But the populations vary from year to year depending on food supplies. And in Scandinavia, food primarily consists of lemmings. Lemmings are rodents that reproduce in four-year cycles. During a good lemming year, the arctic foxes are able to feast and gain strength. A year without lemmings means that most cubs that are born will starve to death. And only about half of the adult foxes survive. The number of arctic foxes for 2018 will be updated as soon as new data is compiled.

Find the latest data here. And follow the instagram account fjallravenprojektet (in english). 

Rasmus Erlandsson has been involved in the Save the Arctic Fox project since 2008, first as a field worker and later as a doctoral student. He’s studied how variation in the number of lemmings affects the arctic fox. For example, how many fox cubs are born, their chances of survival and how the quality of a den site affects litter size and the number of foxes that live together. Rasmus also developed a method to investigate landscapes in great detail in order to assess where the best hunting grounds for a fox looking for lemmings would be.

Research on arctic foxes here in Scandinavia doesn’t just benefit local populations. The scientific results are published in international journals, so they can help inform broader conservation efforts around the world. Therefore, trying to save the arctic fox could help save other threatened species as well.