Green shield moss and other mosses on dead wood in nature conservation agreements. Foto: Linda Vålberg

Sharp increase in infringement compensation

Nyhet | Statistik - 30 January 2024

In 2023, the Swedish Forest Agency paid out almost SEK 309 million in infringement compensation to landowners for denied felling permission in montane forests. This is a sharp increase since 2020 when the first few compensation payment totalling SEK 3 million were paid out. At the same time, the low level of the Swedish Forest Agency's establishment of formally protected areas continued in 2023.

In 2020, a legal process was concluded that resulted in the Swedish Forest Agency starting to pay out compensation for infringement to landowners who had been denied felling permission in montane forests. In 2020, only a few infringement compensation payments were made, but in subsequent years the number of payments increased sharply. The reason for this was a large increase in applications for felling permits in montane forests. In 2021, SEK 72 million was paid out in infringement compensation, in 2022 this was SEK 248 million and by 2023 SEK 309 million was paid out to landowners who had been denied felling. In total, infringement compensation has been paid out for the denied felling of 16,700 hectares of forest land in the montane forests during the years 2020 to 2023.

Västerbotten county has had almost 62 percent of the infringement compensated forest land up to 2023, while 36 percent was in Jämtland county. The remaining 2 per cent was distributed between the counties of Dalarna and Norrbotten.

The forest areas that the Swedish Forest Agency has compensated for infringement are not formally protected in the same way as the habitat protection areas and nature conservation agreements. The three forms are described in more detail under the heading Description below.

New formal protection lowest since 1998

At the end of December 2023, there were just over 8 900 habitat protection areas totalling 34,800 hectares established by the Swedish Forest Agency. There were also around 5,500 signed nature conservation agreements with a total of 40,000 hectares.

810 hectares of habitat protection and 210 hectares of nature conservation agreements were added in 2023. Overall, this was the lowest level of newly formally protected areas by the Swedish Forest Agency since 1998. It is also the fifth consecutive year in which less than 1,500 hectares were formally protected. The years with the highest levels of new formation were during 2002 to 2005, when around 6,000 hectares per year were formally protected.

An important reason why the level has fallen in the 2020s is that the largest part of the appropriation has had to be reserved for compensation for infringement to landowners who apply for felling in montane forests, but where permits are often refused.

SEK 3.7 billion so far

A total of just over SEK 3.1 billion has been used for the creation of habitat protection areas and SEK 565 million for nature conservation agreements since 1993. On average, compensation in 2023 was around SEK 185,000 per hectare for habitat protection, which is the highest level to date. The increase in property prices means that the level of compensation rises over time.

The nature conservation agreements had an average compensation of SEK 47,000 per hectare in 2023, which is an increase from previous years. The compensation is affected by, for example, the timber value of the land, which means that it can vary between years depending on where in the country the new nature conservation agreements are located. The length of the agreement also has an impact, with shorter agreements generally having lower compensation. Many newly formed short nature conservation agreements can therefore reduce the average compensation for a single year.


As of this publication, compensation for infringement due to rejected felling in montane forests is also included in the statistics. The appropriation allocated to the Swedish Forestry Agency for establishing new habitat protection and nature conservation agreements also includes the infringement compensation for rejected felling in montane forests. There are also other infringement compensations, for example, rejected felling due to species protection, but this is not yet included in the statistics.

Infringement compensation is paid to landowners who have applied for a permit but have been refused felling in montane forests, due to the presence of high biodiversity in the montane region.

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 between one and fifty years. For a 50-year agreement, the landowner receives 60 percent of the area's net conversion value in compensation.

The statistics include infringement compensation caused by rejected applications for felling permits in montane forests paid by the Swedish Forest Agency until 31 December 2023. Also, decisions on habitat protection areas up to and including 31 December 2023, including decisions that have not entered into force unless otherwise stated.

The statistics for nature conservation agreements include agreements signed by the Swedish Forest Agency, excluding areas covered by Eco-parks and White-Backed Woodpecker Action Plans  agreements. The statistics include agreements that were valid December 31 2023, 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 not therefore 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 for 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.


Subscribe to statistical news