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Assessment of Nature Areas in Gladsaxe Municipality in Denmark

The City Council of Gladsaxe Municipality, a Danish municipality situated in the Northern outskirts of the capital of Copenhagen, has adopted a new development strategy that is based on the United Nations ”Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs).

With regard to SDG 15 on protecting life on land and in freshwater, the municipality has been looking for a way to measure progress on the protection of biodiversity and nature. With the assistance of members of IUCN expert Commissions, the municipality decided to have a full assessment of the protected areas within the area encompassed by the municipality, in total 25 km2.

New project

In a project by NaturTanken, GEON og Parks’n Trails, the protected areas of Gladsaxe Municipality were assessed in relation to the IUCN definition for protected areas. In this way the municipality got an assessment of how well it performs according to international guidelines for conservation of natural areas.

The results were then used as an indicator for how the municipality performed according to SDG target 15.5: “Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species”.

In total, 73 natural areas were examined and assessed. For each nature area a two-pages assessment sheet was made, wherein criteria and specifications of the IUCN guidelines were assessed.

30 nature areas fulfil the IUCN standard 

The assessment implied that 30 of the 73 areas met the IUCN standard for protected areas and hence can be assigned a management category. All 30 areas were assigned to Category IV: Habitat/species management area. That is a relatively large number of natural areas to meet the IUCN standard compared to the size of Gladsaxe Municipality and its status as a city municipality. It highlights the fact that Gladsaxe Municipality has many natural areas of value.

Our area calculations showed that 42% of the total protected area in Gladsaxe Municipality met the IUCN standard.


Figure 1 shows how many areas of each type of nature protection that meet the IUCN standard for protected areas and hence have been assigned to Category IV or to no category.



In Gladsaxe Municipality four governance types occur: Governance by government, governance by municipality, shared governance between two or more cooperating actors and private governance by individuals. This is relatively few types of governance for a municipality, of which private governance makes up a significantly high share. Gladsaxe Municipality could accordingly consider if shared governance could be implemented for more of the privately managed areas and whether there will be a basis for involving local actors on publicly owned areas to a greater extent, e.g. by establishment of joint bodies or councils.

Figure 2 shows the distribution of nature areas in Gladsaxe Municipality that meet the IUCN standard for protected areas.


UN Sustainable Development Goals

A sub goal to the SDG 15 on protecting life on land states that 17% of a country’s total land area (including freshwater bodies) should be assigned as protected nature. We calculated that 7.1% of the total area of Gladsaxe Municipality met the IUCN standard – and hence fulfills the requirements set out by SDG 15.

In total, 16.5% of the area of the municipality is protected nature according to Danish legislation, which means that a potential 9.4% of the land area can be improved to meet the standard of the IUCN. In addition, new nature areas can be established so that the percentage can be raised further should there be a wish to be on par with the global goal.

In relation to the SDG 15.5 regarding the protection of endangered species, nine species on the Danish Red List (hereof two species on the European Red List) were found in Gladsaxe Municipality. In addition, a number of rare species were assumed to have disappeared from the municipality. Gladsaxe Municipality should ensure, that management plans for the individual areas pay special attention to the preservation of species on the Red List.

The assessment sheets filled out for each protected area in this project can be used by Gladsaxe Municipality to evaluate what it takes for an assessed area to be considered protected according to the guidelines of IUCN. The sheets show where efforts can be made to improve a protected area and accordingly calculate what it will require financially.

The assessment was concluded June 2019 and will now be dealt with at the political level of Gladsaxe Municipality.

The report (in Danish) can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Click on the report to download it as a PDF (in Danish).



The photo is from Aldershvile Forest in Gladsaxe Municipality.