Protected nature

The County Administrative Board is usually responsible for managing protected nature, such as national reserves and national parks. You can read all about different types of protected nature here.

There are several ways to protect valuable nature. Under each protection type, you will get more information about where they are located, why they are valuable and how they are preserved. Usually, the County Administrative Board is responsible for managing and preserving protected nature.

Find maps of protected nature

In the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s Map Tool, you can find maps of areas of protected nature.

Protected nature Map Toolexternal link

Nature reserves

Nature reserves are created to preserve biological diversity, manage and preserve valuable nature environments or to meet the need for recreation areas.

National Parks

National Park is the strongest protection an area of valuable nature can be granted. It is only granted to the finest and most valuable areas in the Swedish landscape. The protection is needed for both nature’s own sake and for human sake. By protecting valuable nature from being destroyed, or from disappearing, we can preserve our common natural and cultural heritage.

Presentation of all national parks on Sweden's National Parks' web siteexternal link

About National Parks on the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s websiteexternal link

Natura 2000

The County Administrative Board has developed conservation plans for the nature areas included in Natura 2000. Among other things, the plans describe the value of the area and what may pose a threat to the area as well as the conservation objectives for the various species and habitats within the area. The conservation plan is revised as new knowledge is added, or if the conditions in the area change. In the conservation plan you can also find proposals for change, new Natura 2000 areas and current referrals.

All Natura 2000 areas can be found in the protected nature Map Toolexternal link

What does Natura 2000 mean to me as a landowner and user?

Natura 2000 does not entail a general stop to ongoing land use, or developments in society. Intrusions that affect the environment, in a Natura 2000 area, in a significant way require an approved permit. For example:

  • forestry measures in, or in connection with, a Natura 2000 area,
  • substantial changes to the management of a designated meadow, or
  • measures that may affect the water environment within an area.

It can be hard to assess whether a permit is needed or not. Therefore, if you are not sure, please consult with your County Administrative Board.

Some areas need management – others do not

All Natura 2000 areas are not preserved in the same way. Some need active management or restoration. Other areas need minor interventions or are left completely untouched. Therefore, every Natura 2000 area has a unique conservation plan, which describes both how to manage the area and what needs to be protected.

The need of interventions is determined by:

  • What needs to be protected
  • How sensitive the area is
  • What protection that already exists

Who is responsible for what?

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency coordinates the work with Natura 2000. The County Administrative Boards are responsible for management, protection and supervision. Also, the County Administrative Boards bring forward proposals for new Natura 2000 areas, which are supposed to be only the most valuable nature areas and the areas that will contribute to the network in the best ways. The County Administrative Boards consult with landowners and relevant authorities during the process. Thereafter, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency reviews the selection and proposes new areas to the Government. The Swedish Forest Agency is responsible for supervision of forestry measures while the municipalities are responsible for their own reserves. A special unit within the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsinspektören för hälsa och miljö, FIHM) is responsible for interventions relating to the military.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agencyexternal link

EU’s web page on Natura 2000external link

The Swedish Forest Agencyexternal link

Biotope protection

Biotope protection areas are smaller areas of land and water that provide habitats for endangered animal and plant species, or that are especially worth protecting. Within a biotope protection area no activities or interventions that may harm the natural setting are allowed.

Many small biotopes in farmlands are of high natural and cultural value. They provide habitats for many species and facilitate the spread of animals and plants to larger areas. Many of these species were common in the past, but now has an increasingly difficult time to survive due to rationalisation of agriculture. There are two different kinds of biotope protection:

  1. General biotope protection
  2. Biotope protection on a case-to-case basis

General biotope protection

The Government has decided on general protection for certain types of biotopes because they are especially valuable. This means that they have a permanent automatic protection and must not be harmed. These are examples of biotopes granted general protection:

  • Lines of trees
  • Springs with surrounding wetlands in agricultural areas
  • Stone piles in agricultural areas
  • Willow banks
  • Small watercourses and wetlands in agricultural areas
  • Stone fences in agricultural areas
  • Small stands of trees or bushes in the midst of a field

Agricultural areas here refers to areas that are used for fields, meadows or pastures. The County Administrative Board may grant an exemption if there is a specific reason to do so.

Biotope protection on a case-to-case basis

In addition to biotopes granted general protection, the County Administrative Board, the Swedish Forest Agency or the municipality may decide on a biotope protection for special areas on a case-to-case basis. Examples of areas that may be granted protection are small forest areas, fens, natural pastures or natural rapids. Biotope protection areas, which are created in this way, are always marked in the terrain.

Animal and plant protection areas

Animal and plant protection areas are used when the purpose of the protection is limited in time and space, for example, to protect a specific animal or plant species during a certain time of the year. This usually entails that no one is allowed to enter the area during the time period.

Above all, we use animal protection areas to try to protect breeding grounds for sensitive bird species.

Landscape protection

Before the concept ”national interest” existed, the landscape protection (landskapsbildskyddet) was introduced to facilitate an easier way, than to create nature reserves, to protect big areas of land from greater interventions or changes. To protect the visual experience value was the above all purpose. The provisions entail that a permit is required for interventions that may affect the visual appearance of the landscape negatively. The County Administrative Board issues the permits.

Natural landmarks

Distinguished objects, such as trees, bowlders or alike, may be protected as natural landmarks. Natural landmarks are either singular objects or has a land area less than one hectare in size.

Nature conservation agreements

Nature conservation agreements are voluntary contracts between the County Administrative Board and landowners. The landowner can decide the term of the contract, although 50 year is the maximum, and the aim is to preserve and develop the areas biological values in the long term. The Swedish Forest Agency may also sign nature conservation agreements with landowners.

Nature conservation agreements may be used for different environments, such as forests, fresh water and marine environments, farmlands and wetlands. Nature conservation agreements can also be used to protect endangered species.

A nature conservation agreement is a flexible protection tool that aims to increase participation and commitment. The main priority, in working with nature conservation agreements, shall be to preserve biological diversity, but cultural environmental values and recreational values are important as well.

The basis for the nature conservation agreement is the Land Code (7 chapter, 3 §). An agreement entails that the landowner refrains from certain use of an area to preserve biological values.

There is a possibility for flexibility in the use of nature conservation agreements in terms of, among other things, objective and time. Both longer and shorter terms may occur, depending on the landowner’s and authority’s wishes, but the maximum term for an agreement is 50 years. The agreement may be viewed as a complementary tool to other existing protection tools.

Nature conservation agreements should be used to create a platform for the authority and landowner to work together to develop and preserve an area’s natural values in the long term.

The compensation for a nature conservation agreement in a forest area is calculated using the areas timber value, minus felling costs (the so called ”rotnetto”) and the term of the agreement (1,2 percent of the “rotnetto” per year).

This means, for example, that you will receive about 60 percent of the “rotnetto” in compensation for a 50-year agreement. In addition, you will receive a one-time payment of 8000 SEK when you sign the agreement. There is also an opportunity to sign a management agreement for measures that need to be taken to meet the protection objectives.

Ramsar sites

Valuable wetlands are protected in accordance with The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The aim is to preserve the special biological values in shallow vegetation-rich areas.

The convention includes a sustainable use and conservation of wetlands, lakes, watercourses and shallow ocean areas. The natural wetlands and water environments in the world are very valuable and serve many functions for the benefit of man.

About Ramsar sites on the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's websiteexternal link

National interests in nature conservation

National interests is a tool in urban planning for how different areas shall be preserved or used. An area of national interest as a nature conservation area, recreation area or cultural environment is granted a protection against measures that may significantly harm the natural or cultural environment.

Shore protection

The shore protection applies to areas near lakes and watercourses. Within a shore protection area of at least 100 meters, construction of new buildings is not allowed.

See where shore protection applies

The shore protection map shows where the shore protection applies, as well as where the shore protection does not apply. Under the Environmental Code, the general shore protection extends to 100 meters from the shoreline, out in the water and into land. But, the protection may have been extended or reduced.

Shore protection background and purposes

The shore protection was introduced in Sweden in the 1950’s, to ensure a free and mobile outdoor life for future generations. It was then noticed that the public access to shores and beaches was hampered in many places, due to increased construction.

The shore protection originally aimed at keeping shore areas available to public recreation and outdoor life. You could say that the shore protection is an extension of the Right to Public Access (Allemansrätten). Since, an additional purpose has been added to the shore protection, and the shore protection today also serves as a protection for animals and plants.

The shores and beaches, which are finite resources, are attractive in many different ways and are vulnerable to exploitation. The fact that Swedish shores and beaches to a great extent are open to the public is unique, in comparison to the situation in many other European countries.

The difference between a lot and a property

A lot is not the same thing as a property, and it does not have to coincide with the property line. The lot marks an area where the landowner may claim a private zone/garden and where the public has no right to abide. Usually, the lot is the area closest to the residence. Around other facilities you may only claim a private area (“hemfridszon”) in exceptional cases. The Right to Public Access applies outside the lot.

Within a shore protection area you are not permitted:

  • To construct new buildings
  • To make changes to buildings or change the use of buildings, or add facilities or devices, if it will hamper public access to areas where people otherwise would have been permitted to visit freely (this applies to both changes of the outside, such as extensions or add-ons as well as changes to the inside).
  • To dig out, or carry out other preparatory work, for buildings, facilities or devices as referred to in 1 or 2.
  • To take measures that significantly changes the life conditions for animal or plant species.

Examples of prohibited measures are to:

  • construct new buildings or extensions
  • change the use of buildings
  • claim a spot for garden furniture, construct barbecue areas or patios
  • construct piers or wooden decks
  • cut the grass, or remove other vegetation, fertilize or use pesticides
  • plant garden plants
  • dispose garden waste, such as grass clippings, branches and leaves.

Water protection area

A land or water area may be declared a water protection area in order to protect a ground water or surface water supply that is being used, or is presumed to be used, as a water source. Find water protection areas on the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's website

Find water protection areas hereexternal link

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