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Protected nature 2020

Major increase in protected marine area

Statistical news from Statistics Sweden and Swedish Environmental Protection Agency 2021-05-27 9.30

The largest increase in nature reserve area came from the two new reserves Skånska Kattegatt in northwest Skåne and Ottenby rev south of Öland’s southern tip, and the expanded reserve Svenska Högarna in the northeast section of the Stockholm archipelago. Taken together, these account for an increase of 130 000 hectares.

Fifteen percent of Sweden’s total land and inland water area is under formal protection, 97 percent of which is permanently protected under the Environmental Code. The permanent protection includes national parks, nature reserves, nature conservation areas, habitat protection areas, the National City Park, and Natura 2000. In 2020, the total area of formally protected nature increased by 97 000 hectares. Three-fourths of the new areas comprise marine water, mainly in the form of new and expanded nature reserves in the counties of Stockholm, Skåne, and Kalmar.

Formally protected nature 2020-12-31
 Total Land area and inland watersMarine water
Instruments for protectionArea in hectaresShareArea in hectaresShareArea in hectaresShare
Environmental Code, permanent formal protection
National parks
743 501 1.4% 697 561 1.6% 45 940 0.6%
Nature reserves
5 010 404 9.5% 4 315 194 9.6% 695 210 8.5%
Nature conservation areas
149 606 0.3% 123 268 0.3% 26 339 0.3%
Habitat protection areas in forest land
31 227 0.1% 31 224 0.1% 3 0.0%
Habitat protection areas, other
346 0.0% 300 0.0% 46 0.0%
National City Park
2 614 0.0% 1 820 0.0% 794 0.0%
Natura 2000
7 799 105 12.4% 5 793 268 12.9% 2 005 837 9.1%
Total permanent protection, without overlap
8 821 661 14.3% 6 522 173 14.6% 2 299 488 12.7%
Land Code, time-limited formal protection
Nature conservation agreements
172 037 0.3% 172 016 0.4% 21 0.0%
Intra-governmental agreements
Swedish Fortifications Agency
32 297 0.1% 32 241 0.1% 56 0.0%
All instruments, without overlap
9 002 917 14.6% 6 703 355 15.0% 2 299 562 12.8%

Source: The Swedish register on areas protected under the Environmental Code and Statistics Sweden

New statistics on municipally protected nature

This year’s theme for Statistics Sweden’s report on protected nature is “Municipally protected nature”. Under this theme, the report describes how much protected nature there is in each municipality, and how much protection has been established based on municipal decisions. In connection with this detailed description, Statistics Sweden created new variables for the official statistics on protected nature. This includes statistics on the deciding authority and administrator of protected nature, which from reference year 2020 will be reported with areas, by total and land area, number of areas, and regional reporting by county and municipality. A complete presentation of the statistics is available in Statistics Sweden’s interactive database:

Each municipality in Sweden contains some type of protected nature, in the form of a national park, nature reserve, nature conservation area, or habitat protection. In the municipalities of Salem and Vaxholm in Stockholm County, and Sorsele in Västerbotten County, more than half of the land area in the municipality is protected.

The map shows how protected nature is distributed among the municipalities in Sweden and, at the same time, gives a picture of the total size of each municipality. The darker colours indicate a higher proportion of protected nature and the lighter colours indicate a lower proportion. The higher proportions are prevalent in several of the subalpine municipalities, as well as several municipalities located in Stockholm County. In the rest of the country, high percentages of protected land are present in the municipalities of Trosa, Mörbylånga, Götene, and Lund. Among the 290 municipalities in Sweden, there was less than 0.5 percent protected land in 15 of them.

Proportion of protected land by municipality, 2020-12-31

Proportion of protected land by municipality, 2020-12-31

Top ten: Number of nature reserves and nature conservation areas, by municipality as the deciding authority. 2020-12-31
  Number of areas by deciding authority
CountyMunicipalityMunicipalityCounty Administrative Board
Örebro County
Örebro 19 36
Dalarna County
Gagnef 16 13
Dalarna County
Leksand 16 18
Stockholm County
Nacka 13 1
Stockholm County
Huddinge 11 1
Skåne County
Lomma 11 2
Stockholm County
Stockholm 10 0
Skåne County
Helsingborg 9 11
Stockholm County
Södertälje 9 17
Stockholm County
Botkyrka 8 6

Definitions and explanations

Statistics Sweden produces yearly statistics on protected nature in collaboration with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. A protected area refers to a geographically defined area that is permanently designated, regulated and administered to achieve specific aims and conservation goals. In Sweden, “protected area” is a collective term for protection under Chapter 7 of the Environmental Code and according to many of the nature conservation agreements under the Land Code.

Sweden’s national and official statistics on protected nature contain information on a selection of protected areas under Chapter 7 of the Environmental Code. Information is also presented on protected rivers, protected species, nature conservation agreements under the Land Code, Intra-governmental agreements, and forest land covered by land replacement. The data refers to areas that applied (that is, for which judgment was final) on 31 December 2020. Most of the data has been retrieved from the Swedish register on areas protected under the Environmental Code and the database on Sweden’s Natura 2000 areas.
Explanations concerning the table Formally protected nature 2020-12-31:

  • The proportion of protected area has been calculated using Sweden’s total area, as reported in Statistics Sweden’s official statistics on land and water areas (see, reference time 2021-01-01).
  • Changes in area compared with the previous year are to a small degree due to a change in method in Statistics Sweden’s calculation.
  • Nature reserves, Natura 2000, and nature conservation agreements include areas without restrictions, for example without regulations against forestry. The data refers to areas that applied (that is, for which judgment was final) on 31 December 2020.
  • Proportions and areas cannot be added up because some protection types overlap each other. Statistics adjusted for overlapping areas are marked with the text “without overlap”.
  • Natura 2000 within Sweden’s exclusive economic zone is included in the presentation of total area and marine areas in hectares. Areas within the exclusive economic zone are not included in the presentation of proportions, since that presentation only covers areas within Sweden’s territory. Natura 2000 within the exclusive economic zone covers about 1.3 million hectares.
  • Nature conservation agreements include the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s and the Swedish Forest Agency’s nature conservation agreements, the White-Backed Woodpecker Action Plan, and “ekoparker” (nature reserves). Several agreements do not have end date information available. Among the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s agreements, 143 agreements, comprising 2 355 hectares, have a remaining duration of less than 15 years.
  • Information on the number of areas related to intra-governmental agreements with the Swedish Fortifications Agency was retrieved from “Överenskommelse om skydd av särskilt värdefulla naturskogsområden, 5. Naturskogar Nv Reg. no. 310-167-10 No.


A more detailed report of this survey is published in the publication Protected Nature 2020 (pdf).

Next publishing will be

The next statistical news in this series will be published in 2022.

Statistical Database

More information is available in the Statistical Database

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Statistical agency

Statistics Sweden, Urban Management and Tourism

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Karin Hedeklint

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Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

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Birgitta Olsson

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