Sweden was the first country in Europe to create National Parks, the first nine of which were founded in 1909. The most recent addition is Kosterhavets National Park (2009).
The basic idea of national parks is to preserve parts of the national and cultural heritage for future generations. According to Swedish law, the national parks are to be representative biotopes which are preserved in their natural state or essentially unchanged, but also beautiful environments to be experienced by visitors. The state owns all national park land. Naturvårdsverket, The Swedish Environment Protection Agency, is the central government agency responsible for implementing nature conservation policy, including proposals for the creation of new parks (the decision to found a park is made by Parliament), whereas local authorities are in charge for the management of national parks located on their territory. Tyresta National Park is an exception, as it is managed by a foundation.
Mountain environment covers almost 90% of the surface of the parks. Other biotopes in the national parks are virgin forest, deciduous forest, swamps, archipelago and old agricultural landscapes.
Apart from national parks, Sweden has some 3,200 different protected areas: their total surface is almost six times greater than that covered by national parks (four million ha as compared to 0.7 million ha). A total of just over 8% of Sweden's territory is thus protected in some form: National Parks, Nature Reserves, Culture Reserves, Nature Management Areas and Wildlife sanctuaries.
Sweden has listed some 4,000 Natura 2000 sites, having a total area of six million ha, or around 15 per cent of the country´s area. Approximately 60 per cent of the sites are national parks or nature reserves.
Fonti: Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (2011)