To main content

Protected nature 2019

Formally protected areas account for 15 percent

Statistical news from Statistics Sweden and Swedish Environmental Protection Agency 2020-05-27 9.30

Formally protected areas account for 14.9 percent of Sweden’s total land area and inland waters. Almost all of the protected areas, 97 percent, are permanently protected under the Environmental Code. Permanent protection covers national parks, nature reserves, nature conservation areas, habitat protection areas, the National City Park, and Natura 2000. Formal protection applies to 12 percent of Sweden’s marine areas, virtually all with permanent protection under the Environmental Code.

The time-limited protection consists of nature conservation agreements between landowners and government agencies. Taken together with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s agreements with the Swedish Fortifications Agency, this amounts to 0.5 percent of Sweden’s total land area and inland waters.

Formal protected areas 31 December 2019
  Land area and inland watersMarine water
Type of protectionNumber of areasArea in hectaresShareArea in hectaresShare
Environmental Code, permanent formal protection
National parks
30 697 257 1.6% 45 981 0 .6%
Nature reserves
5 111 4 286 351 9.6% 563 920 6 .9%
Nature conservation areas
89 122 122 0.3% 26 344 0 .3%
Habitat protection areas in forest land
8 332 30 940 0.1% 3 0 .0%
Habitat protection areas, other
118 290 0.0% 46 0 .0%
National City Park
1 1 820 0.0% 794 0 .0%
Natura 2000
4 539 5 790 922 12.9% 2 003 646 9 .1%
Total permanent protection, without overlap
18 220 6 498 101 14.5% 2 227 547 11 .9%
Land Code, time-limited formal protection
Nature conservation agreements
18 194 171 193 0.4% 21 0 .0%
Intra-governmental agreements
Swedish Fortifications Agency
56 32 229 0.1% 56 0 .0%
All instruments, without overlap
  6 678 589 14.9% 2 227 621 11 .9%

New protected forest land and low mountain forests

In 2019, permanent formal protected areas increased by almost 35 000 hectares, mainly in the form of new nature reserves. Forest land and low mountain forests account for 56 percent of the new areas. Open wetlands accounted for 21 percent and marine water accounted for 12 percent.

New protected areas, 2019, by type of nature, shares in percent

Chart: New protected areas, 2019, by type of nature, shares in percent

The largest new nature reserve in 2019 was Skarvsjömyrarna wetlands, located between the localities of Storuman and Vilhelmina in Västerbotten County. It spans over 6 000 hectares and 95 percent of the reserve consists of land area.

The largest increase in protected land area was in Älvkarleby municipality, in Uppsala County. The increase of one percentage point means the municipality has four percent protected land area. This was the result of the establishment of two new nature reserves in the municipality: Komossen and Mararna, covering roughly 100 hectare each.

Protected areas account for 14 percent of marine environments

One of the targets in the global 2030 Agenda pertains to the protection of areas in marine environments. Under the global target, at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas are to be conserved by 2020. Statistics for 2019 show that 14 percent of Sweden’s total marine area, including the exclusive economic zone, consists of protected marine environments. The protection covers 11 percent of Sweden’s marine area in Swedish territory. Sweden thereby more than meets the global target.

The proportion of protected marine area varies in different parts of Sweden. In the Skagerrak and Kattegat, 32 percent of the marine area is protected, in the Baltic Sea 16 percent is protected, while in the Gulf of Bothnia the corresponding figure is 5 percent. Skåne County is the county with the highest proportion of protected marine area, 42 percent. The exclusive economic zone is not included in the calculations by county.

Protection of marine environments, by marine area, 31 December 2019
Regional marine areaArea, protected
marine area,
in hectares
Proportion of
total marine
Skagerrak and Kattegat
438 400 32%
Baltic Sea
1 445 000 16%
Gulf of Bothnia
269 600 5%
2 153 000 14%

Hectares are rounded to the nearest 100. This means quantities cannot be summed up to a total.

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 in the Environmental Code and according to many of the nature conservation agreements under the Land Code.

The statistics contain information on protected nature in accordance with the Environmental Code, and on protected rivers, the National City Park, Natura 2000, 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 2019.

The proportion of protected area has been calculated based on Sweden’s total area, as reported in Statistics Sweden’s official statistics on land and water areas, available at:, reference time 2020-01-01.

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 calculation only covers areas within Sweden’s territory. Natura 2000 within the exclusive economic zone comprises around 1 261 000 hectares.

The forms of protection nature reserves, Natura 2000 and nature conservation agreements include areas without restrictions, for example without regulations against forestry.

Proportions and areas cannot be added up because some protection types overlap. Statistics adjusted for overlapping areas are marked with the text “without overlap”.

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, 140 agreements, comprising 2 330 hectares, have a remaining duration of less than 15 years.

Information about 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.” (only available in Swedish).

Statistics Sweden’s statistics on protection of marine environments includes:

  1. national parks, nature reserves, nature conservation areas and other habitat protection areas in marine environment, with aims and regulations linked to the marine environment.

  2. Natura 2000 areas with designated marine habitats 1110-1180, 1610-1630, 1650 and 8330.


A more detailed report of this survey is published in the Statistical Report Protected Nature 2019 (pdf).


Next publishing will be

The next statistical news in this series will be published in 2021.

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

Statistics Sweden, Environmental accounts and Environment

Box 24 300
104 51 Stockholm


Karin Hedeklint

+46 10 479 45 14


Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

106 48 Stockholm


Birgitta Olsson

+46 10 698 10 00