A sixth of mainland Norway is protected areas

Norwegian natureNorwegian nature.Photo: Norway Today Media

Protected areas comprise more than a sixth of mainland Norway’s total land area, which is triple that of 2000.

In recent years there have only been minor increases, with 0.3 per cent in 2016, roughly the size of the Norwegian municipality of Bærum (188 km2).

Approximately 55 400 km2 of mainland Norway is protected areas. Differences between counties in mainland Norway are also large, varying from 3 per cent for Vestfold to 30 per cent for Oppland. Far more of Svalbard and Jan Mayen’s land area is protected, with 65 per cent for Svalbard, and almost 99 per cent for Jan Mayen.

New areas gaining protection in 2016 are all in mainland Norway. These are mainly nature reserves, but there are also two new national parks.

More nature reserve areas

Twenty-two new nature reserves were formed in mainland Norway in 2016, giving an area increase of 180 km2. Nature reserves on the mainland make up a total of about 6 445 km2, covering approximately 2 per cent of the area. On Svalbard, nature reserves cover more than 25 100 km2, or 41 per cent of its total area. Jan Mayen has only one nature reserve, which covers as much as 99 per cent of the land area.

Two new national parks

Two new national parks have been formed in 2016, “Jomfruland” on the coast of Telemark, and “Raet” on the coast of Aust Agder. The increase in protected area is still small, 10 km2, as the parks span a large number of islands. Areas of sea water are generally excluded from the statistics for protected areas, only land and freshwater are included.

For Norway including Svalbard and Jan Mayen, national parks make up the largest area out of the total protected areas, with 45 700 km2. Of this, 31 300 km2 is on the mainland, with approximately 14 400 km2 on Svalbard.

Norway has 46 national parks; 39 on the mainland and 7 on Svalbard.

Differences between counties in mainland Norway

The proportion of protected area varies considerably from county to county. The map below shows how counties in the vicinity of the Oslo area have proportionately less protected areas than other counties. The counties Vestfold, Akershus and Østfold all have less than 5 per cent protected areas, whilst Oslo has 9 per cent. All other counties have proportions higher than 10 per cent, with Møre og Romsdal and Oppland scoring highest (28 per cent and 30 per cent).


Source: SSB / Norway Today