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 Tool External 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, Sweden's National Parks External link.

National Parks, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency External 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 Tool External 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.

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 (landskapsbildsskydd) 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, bowlers or alike, may be protected as natural landmarks. Natural landmarks are either singular objects or a land area less than one hectare in size. There are certain larger areas too, some of tens of hectares, which are affected by decisions made before 1965.

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 years 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. 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.

Ramsar sites, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency External link.

National interests in nature conservation

National interests are 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 seas, lakes and watercourses. Within a shore protection area of at least 100 meters, construction of new buildings is not allowed.

Usually, the protected areas stretch 100 meters from the shoreline, both onto land and into water. The County Administrative Board can adjust the shore protection area by either increasing or decreasing it.

If you want to construct or change anything within the shore protection area, you need to apply for dispensation. You apply with the municipality in most cases.

What applies to a shore protection area?

Within a shore protection area you are not permitted:

  1. To construct new buildings
  2. 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.
  3. To dig out, or carry out other preparatory work, for buildings, facilities or devices as referred to in 1 or 2.
  4. 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, from storage to a guest house, for example
  • claim a spot for garden furniture, construct barbecue areas or patios outside the property/lot
  • construct piers or wooden decks
  • lay, for example, a lawn or plant garden plants outside the property/lot
  • excavate or fill in for constructuin.

The difference between a lot and a property

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. The Right to Public Access applies outside the lot or property.

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 here External link.

This is how a water protection area is established

Water protection areas are usually formed by sending an application to the County Administrative Board or the municipality, which after processing decides to form the water protection area. It is possible to establish a water protection area for a water resource that may be used as a water source in the future.