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Protected areas 2015-12-31:

Protected areas 2015

Statistical news from Statistics Sweden and Swedish Environmental Protection Agency 2016-05-24 9.30

Protected nature in Sweden encompasses more than 5.4 million hectares. Of the total area of protected nature, 4.5 million hectares comprise land. This represents 11 percent of Sweden’s land surface. Including the protection type Natura 2000, protected nature comprises 13 percent. The growth in designated protected areas (marine and terrestrial) during 2015 was 31 000 hectares (Natura 2000 included).

Areas with protected status are unevenly distributed across the country because of the need for protection of large old-growth forest areas in the mountainous regions. As regards nature reserves, more than 3 million hectares or 81 percent of the nature reserve land area is found in the three northernmost counties. The protected areas in these counties are concentrated in the mountains or along the edge of the mountain chain.

Statutory protection of nature regulated by the Environmental Code as of 31 December 2015 is summarised below.

Overview of protected areas in Sweden 2015
Type of protectionNumberTotal area,
Land area,
Share (%)
of total
land area
National parks
29 739 450 631 325 1.5
Nature reserves
4 340 4 599 280 3 771 090 9.3
Nature conservation areas
91 108 826 73 104 0.2
Habitat protection areas in forest land
7 516 26 124 26 066 0.1
Habitat protection areas, other
101 246 243 0.0
Total 2015
12 077 5 472 564 4 500 533 11.0
Total 2014
11 746 5 442 793 4 479 549 11.0
Natura 2000
4 530 6 678 565 4 768 459 11.7
Natura 2000 areas not included in protection specified above
  1 899 244 730 647 1.8

The protection of specific biotopes is regulated in the Environmental Code Chapter 7, Section 11. More than 7 500 areas comprising 26 000 hectares of forest biotopes have been designated by the County Forestry Boards. The County Administrative Boards have designated other biotopes in 101 areas comprising 246 hectares.

In the Environmental Code Chapter 4, Section 6, rivers protected from hydroelectric power exploitation are noted. These comprise the four Swedish rivers Torneälven, Kalixälven, Piteälven and Vindelälven and a further 38 river basins with a total area of 153 000 km2. Moreover, ten river courses in seven rivers are protected.

The Nordic countries have large areas of protected nature per capita compared with other parts of Europe. On the other hand, if we consider protected nature as a share of total area, many other European countries have protected greater shares of their territories.

Map tool – Protected areas

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's website provides the opportunity to become acquainted with Sweden's protected areas by using the Protected Areas map tool. You can create your own maps of protected areas for a municipality, a county or for the entire country. You can also look for specific areas and make a sample based on different data about protected areas, for example the purpose or the year for establishment.

Naturvårdsverket – kartverktyget Skyddad natur


A more detailed report of this survey is published in a Statistical Report.

Statistical Database

More information is available in the Statistical Database

Feel free to use the facts from this statistical news but remember to state Source: Statistics Sweden.

Statistical agency

Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

106 48 Stockholm


Olle Höjer

+46 10 698 15 00


Statistics Sweden, Environmental accounts and Environment

Solna strandväg 86
171 54 Solna


Karin Hedeklint

+46 10 479 45 14