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During 2022 the Swedish Forest Agency formed protected areas including 1,200 hectares of productive forest land. That is a marginal increase from the previous years record low newly formed protected areas.
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 2022 there were about 8,800 habitat protection areas containing 32,900 hectares of productive forest land formed by the Swedish Forest Agency. There were also 5,500 nature conservation agreements with 35,800 hectares of productive forest land.
At the most, about 5,000 to 6,000 hectares were protected yearly during 2002 to 2005. Thereafter the yearly protection rate declined. 1,187 hectares of productive forest land were protected in 2022, compared to 980 hectares in 2021. The annual average was around 2,300 hectares per year from 1993 to 2021. The reason for the low levels so far in the 2020s is that a large portion of the allotted grant has been needed to be used to compensate landowners for infringement due to denied felling permits of montane forests.
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 16,100 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, 22,500 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 8.2 hectares in 2022 and the size of the habitat protection areas was on average 7.3 hectares. Over time, the tendency is for the areas to become fewer but slightly larger.
Värmland County had the largest area of newly formed protected areas in 2022 with 300 hectares of productive forest land. Norrbotten was largest county in 2021 with 200 hectares.
In total, about SEK 3 billion has been paid out for habitat protection areas and almost 551 million SEK for nature conservation agreements since 1993. In 2022 the average compensation per hectare was SEK 179,000 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 2022 was SEK 34,000 per hectare which is an increase compared to the previous years. Timber value and the length of the agreements formed during the year affect the average level of compensation. More contracts with high timber value and longer agreements will increase compensation during a given year.
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, 2022, including non-legally enforceable decisions unless otherwise stated.
The statistics for nature conservation agreements include agreements signed by the Swedish Forest Agency, excluding areas in “vitryggs-” and “ekoparks-“agreements. The statistics include agreements that were valid December 31 2022, 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.