Abstract: Representation of all ecosystems and species in protected areas is a major goal of nature conservation, but few countries have assessed the degree to which it has been fulfilled. We analyzed the extent to which landscape and habitat types in Sweden are represented in areas protected by the Nature Conservation Act. A total of 1175 national parks, nature reserves, and nature conservation areas comprised 4.7% of the total Swedish territory on 31 December 1986 (the proportion increased to 5.9% in 1990). Among landscape types, a very large area of alpine landscape was protected, but only a small area of river landscape. Among habitat types, subalpine birch forest and alpine heaths showed the highest degree of representation in protected areas (32% and 30%, respectively, of the total area of each habitat type). Less than 1% of the farmland and less than 2% of the coniferous forests were represented in protected areas. During an early (1909–66) and a late (1967–86) conservation period, 30% and 70%, respectively, of the protected area was established. During the early period protection of alpine areas predominated; during the late period higher proportions of the other habitat types were protected, suggesting that representation was considered increasingly important. We discuss three factors that influence the goal of representation: (1) threat to and amount of remaining habitat type, (2) cost and opportunity, and (3) evaluation criteria and history. Further inventory of communities and species as well as understanding of ecological processes, in and outside of protected areas, are necessary in future conservation work.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 1992
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