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Danish conservation areas assessed according to international standard for nature protection

A total of 30 recent conservation areas (“fredninger”) implemented in Denmark since 2018 have been assessed according to the IUCN international standard for protected nature. The assessment is a follow-up to a major analysis in 2018 and is part of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency’s reporting to the EU and UN.

A group of Danish IUCN Commission experts have assessed 30 conservation areas for the Danish Environmental Protection Agency according to the IUCN international guidelines for protected areas. The 30 conservation areas – called “fredninger” in Danish – were implemented in the period 2018-2023.

The results show that 11 of the 30 areas fulfil the IUCN guidelines and can therefore be assigned a management category.

Five of the areas have been assigned category IV Habitat/Species Management Area and the remaining six have been assigned category V Protected Landscape.

The five conservation areas with category IV are:

  • Anholt – Nordbjerg, Vesterklit and Sønderbjerg
  • Kirkeskoven and Kirkeengen in Vordingborg
  • Orøs marine forland
  • Vandtårnsbakken in Næstved
  • Additional protection of an area in Store Åmose at Sorø

The six conservation areas with category V are:

  • Keldsø area north of Esrum Sø (lake)
  • Krogens and Hørbylund Møllebække in Frederikshavn
  • Præstesø, Laanshøj and part of Søndersø at the former Værløse Air Base
  • Revision of Frederikslund forest at Furesøen (lake)
  • Skamlingsbanken south of Kolding
  • Tversteds Grønne Front east of Hirtshals

Of the 19 conservation areas assessed as not meeting the IUCN standard, five do not have nature protection as their main purpose. The rest of the conservation areas were assessed as not meeting at least one and often more of the nine criteria that must be met in order to be considered a protected area according to the IUCN guidelines.

More conservation areas fulfil the IUCN standard

The 30 conservation areas assessed here are a follow-up to a larger project in 2018, where 1720 areas were assessed. Of these, 378 were found to fulfil the IUCN standard,

The results from the 2024 project show that 37% of the assessed conservation areas were awarded an IUCN management category, compared to 22% in the project carried out in 2018. This increase may reflect, among other things, changes in conservation areas over time, where the 2018 project included conservation areas dating back to 1917.

The percentage assessed as category V Protected Landscape was higher in the 2024 project than in 2018, 55% compared to 29% respectively, possibly reflecting a trend towards larger protected areas covering continuous landscapes.

The distribution of conservation areas by IUCN management categories in the current project (left) and in the 2018 assessment (right).


The conservation areas were first assessed according to the criterion that the area has nature protection as its main purpose. If this was met, the areas were then assessed according to nine criteria, all of which must be met for an area to fulfil the IUCN standard and be assigned one of the six management categories for protected areas.

The report in Danish with an English summary can be downloaded here.

The report has been prepared for the Danish Environmental Protection Agency by:

Anette Petersen, Bo Normander, Jan Woollhead, Franklin Feyeh and Ann-Katrine Garn – all members of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).

IUCN means International Union for Conservation of Nature, which is the world’s largest nature conservation organisation.



Reporting by the Danish EPA

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must annually report nationally protected and conserved areas to the European Environment Agency (EEA). This is called NatDA reporting (formerly CDDA).

For the Danish EPA’s 2024 reporting, the current project with the assessment of 30 conservation areas according to the IUCN standard was included as a supplement to the 378 conservation areas previously reported based on the 2018 report.



Image at the top: Pasture grazed by cattle within the conservation area Klintebjerg and Fladvandet. Photo: Tuja Petersen.

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