Habitat Protection Sign.

All time low for creation of new protected areas

Nyhet | Statistik - 03 February 2022

During 2021 the Swedish Forest Agency formed 118 new habitat protection areas and 26 new nature conservation agreements, which is the lowest level since the Agency commenced work with these forms of conservation measures in the early 1990s.

Habitat protection areas and nature conservation agreements are the forms of protected forest that the Swedish Forest Agency has implemented since 1993. At the end of 2021 there were about 8,700 habitat protection areas containing 32,100 hectares of productive forest land formed by the Swedish Forest Agency. There were also 5,500 nature conservation agreements with 34,600 hectares of productive forest land.

Denied felling permits caused decrease

At the most, about 5,000 to 6,000 hectares were protected yearly during 2002 to 2005. Thereafter the yearly protection rate declined, but the 980 hectares that were protected during 2021 is the lowest notation since 1998. The annual average was around 2,300 hectares per year from 1993 to 2021.

The reason for the decrease during 2021 was that a large portion of the allotted grant needed to be used to compensate landowners for infringement due to denied felling permits of montane forests. Also, the Swedish Forest Agency did not have resources to handle the increase in grants that were added after June 2021.

Natural forests most common biotope

The agreements signed by the Swedish Forest Agency are linked to special biotopes. The most common biotope type for nature conservation agreements is natural or near-natural coniferous forests, almost 15,600 hectares of productive forest land, which is 45 percent of all productive forest land in nature conservation agreements. The most common biotope type in habitat protection areas is natural and near-natural old growth forests, 22,000 hectares that make up 68 per cent of the productive forest land area in habitat protection areas.

On average, the size of the nature conservation agreements was 8.9 ha in 2021 and the size of the habitat protection areas was on average 6.3 hectares. Over time, the tendency is for the areas to become fewer but slightly larger.

Increased compensation for habitat protection but lower for conservation agreements

In total, just over SEK 2.8 billion has been paid out for habitat protection areas and almost 535 million SEK for nature conservation agreements since 1993. In 2021 the average compensation per hectare was SEK 159,000 for habitat protection areas, which is the highest compensation level since the start. The compensation increases mostly because of rising property prices for forest land over time.

The average for nature conservation agreements in 2021 was SEK 27,500 per hectare which is the lowest compensation since 2010. Relatively few new agreements have been signed and therefore the average compensation is affected by single but large properties with low timber value.


A habitat protection area is a statutory way to protect small areas of great importance for flora and fauna. The reimbursement to the landowner corresponds to the decline in market value of the land plus 25 percent.

The nature conservation agreement is a civil and time-limited agreement. The compensation varies depending on how long the contract is valid. The time can vary from one to fifty years. For a 50-year agreement, the landowner receives 60 percent of the area's net conversion value in compensation.

The statistics show the Swedish Forest Agency's decision on habitat protection area until December 31, 2021, including non-legally enforceable decisions unless otherwise stated.

The statistics for nature conservation agreements include agreements signed by the Swedish Forest Agency, excluding areas included in “vitryggs-” and “ekoparks-“agreements. The statistics include agreements that were valid December 31 2021, some agreements expire and the statistics are therefore slightly underestimated for the conservation agreements during earlier years.

Habitat protection areas and nature conservation agreements are also formed by other government authorities and municipalities. The statistics presented here do therefore not give a complete picture of these instruments, only the formal protection signed by the Swedish Forest Agency. There are also other types of formally protected forest land, for example nature reserves. Complete statistics of all protected forest land is given by Statistics Sweden and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency later in the spring, in the publication Protected Nature.

For both forms of protection, no overlap analysis against other types of formal protection have been made.

The survey is part of Official Statistics of Sweden.

All results are published in our statistical database.


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