Protected species

About 585 of the estimated 50,000 known plant and animal species in Sweden are protected by law throughout the country. All orchids, amphibians, reptiles, bats and wild birds are protected. A further 43 plant and animal species are protected by law in some counties.

Protected species

The Swedish Species Protection Ordinance (2007:845) sets forth the rules that specify which species are protected by law.

All plant and animal species that are marked with the letter N or n in Annex 1 to the ordinance, as well as all plant and animal species in Annex 2, are protected. All wild bird species are also protected.

The protected species are:
  • 43 orchid species (all of Sweden’s orchid species) 
  • 232 other vascular plant species
  • 12 moss species
  • 8 lichen species
  • 5 fungi species
  • 1 algae species
  • 250 bird species (all of Sweden’s bird species)
  • 27 mammal species
  • 7 reptile species (all of Sweden’s reptile species)
  • 13 amphibian species (all of Sweden’s amphibian species)
  • 31 species of invertebrates
In-depth information on protected species (in Swedish)
Lists of all protected species (in Swedish)

What the protection means

The purpose of species protection is to protect a plant or animal species that is at risk of becoming extinct or subject to picking or destroying. Protection can also be granted in order to comply with international obligations.

The protection varies slightly depending on the species:

  • For plant species the protection usually means that you must not pick, uproot or otherwise remove or damage the protected plants.
  • For animal species the protection means that you must not kill, injure or capture the protected animals. The protection of birds also applies to their eggs and nests.
  • Some species have a higher level of protection, meaning that you must not interfere with the animals or damage their breeding grounds or resting places.

Picking protected plants

Some of the protected plant species are so attractive – like the pasqueflower or lesser butterfly-orchid – that it can be tempting to pick them. But this is prohibited. Other species are more insignificant or so rare that you rarely come into contact with them.

Most of the protected plant species are protected against all manner of picking throughout the country. However, you are allowed to pick some species, such as the blue anemone, cowslip and clubmoss, in most parts of Sweden as long as you do not pick them for the purpose of selling them or you do not dig them up.

But in some counties, these species are in fact protected against all picking. For example, it is prohibited to pick blue anemones in Stockholm County while it is allowed to pick them – but not sell them or dig them up – in adjacent counties.

Collecting orchids, frogs and reptiles

All of Sweden's orchid, amphibian and reptile species are protected throughout the country. This means that you have to apply for a waiver derogation from the County Administrative Board to collect orchids, frogs or reptiles for research or any other purpose.

Some limited general exceptions apply for the most common species of frogs and reptiles. For example, you are allowed to collect a few eggs from the common frog, common toad and moor frog to study their development, and then release them back in the same place as they were collected.

Closed season and other species protection

In addition to the species protection, all wild birds and mammals, including bats, are protected under the Hunting Act (SFS 1987:259) and Hunting Ordinance (SFS 1987:905).

Exceptions from the closed season apply to such hunting that is permitted under the hunting legislation.

Fish as well as live crustaceans and molluscs, such as clams, mussels and snails, are covered by fisheries legislation and can be protected according to these laws.

It is prohibited to fish for catfish and river pearl mussels throughout the country in accordance with the Ordinance on Fishing, Aquaculture and Fishing Industry (SFS 1994:1716). The ban also covers thick-shelled freshwater mussels and ramshorn snails, which are protected throughout the country in accordance with the species protection ordinance.

Read more about fish and fishing on the Agency for Marine and Water Management website