Small areas of land and water in Sweden can be preserved as biotope protection areas. Willow banks and stone fences in agricultural areas are two of seven biotopes that have a permanent protection.
The purpose is to provide long-term protection and improvement of natural settings that are especially valuable for animal and plant species. Biotope protection areas are normally not larger than 20 hectares.
This kind of protection contributes to Swedish fulfilment of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as the national environmental quality objectives adopted by the Swedish Parliament.
There are two forms of biotope protection areas. The Government has decided on permanent protection of seven biotopes because they are important habitats, places of refuge and passage routes for plant and animal species, but have decreased sharply due to more rational land use.
Some authorities can decide on biotope protection for special areas. Municipalities and county administrations can decide on protection for natural rapids, steep rocky slopes and 14 other biotopes. The Swedish Forest Agency can decide on 19 other biotopes.
A handbook has been produced by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. It contains a summary in English.
For more information on biotope protection in forests check the Swedish Forest Agency.