Norway is characterized by considerable local variation in terms of topography, geology and climate. From sharp mountain peaks to deep fjords, large marshes, and old forests. The environmental conditions change rapidly over short distances. This creates a mosaic of ecosystems and habitats, with a unique combination of species.
The protected areas of Norway cover 17,5 % of the mainland area, and more than 50 % of this area is constituted of national parks. In total, there are approximately 3 200 protected areas i Norway, most of which were protected under the Norwegian Nature Conservation Act. Since 2009, all protected areas are established under the Norwegian Biodiversity Act. There are 40 national parks (not counting Svalbard), 195 protected landscape areas and 2 414 nature reserves.
A large portion of the Norwegian protected areas are mountainous land. A number of other nature types, such as coastal and marine habitats, are not yet adequately represented. There are several different categories of protected areas in Norway. Under the Norwegian Biodiversity Act, areas can be protected as national parks, nature reserves, protected landscapes, biotope protected areas and marine protected areas. In addition, many areas are protected under categories that are no longer in use but still applies.
In comparison with the Norwegian mainland, much more of Svalbard’s area is protected (sysselmesteren.no), including large marine areas. National parks and nature reserves on Svalbard are protected under the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act. 65 per cent of the area of the islands is protected, together with about 85 per cent of the territorial waters stretching as far out as to the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit. There are 7 national parks on Svalbard.
To find specific information about each area please visit Norway’s National Parks (norgesnasjonalparker.no). The site is available in Norwegian, English and several Saami languages. From this site, you can reach the local websites for the protected areas.