The history of the national parks begins in USA in 1872. An area of the Rocky Mountains, named Yellowstone was the first to be protected as a national park.
In 1880 the Swedish polar explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld suggested that the equivalent form of protection would be introduced to the Swedish and Scandinavian wilderness.
Nine parks in 1909
In 1909, Sweden was the first country in Europe to establish nine national parks: Hamra, Garphyttan Ängsö, Gotska Sandon, Abisko, Pieljekaise, Sarek, Stora sjöfallet and Sonfjället.
After this rapid introduction, the development went rather slow. Between 1918 and 1962, seven parks were added, and between 1982 and 2002, another twelve. Today, Sweden holds 29 parks of which the most recent is the new marine national park of Kosterhavet. It opened in September 2009 by King Carl XVI Gustaf.
A new plan in 2008
The first national parks were established quite randomly on the basis of their aesthetic or touristic values. The distribution was heavily concentrated in the northern provinces, while for example, archipelagos were not at all represented.
The process to establish national parks have been developed over the years, both in terms of how areas are selected and how the interaction is built up. In 2008, a new national plan was adopted with more clear criteria and connection to the rules of the World Conservation Union.
Some enlarged - several new
The National Plan will complement the current network of 29 national parks. The plan included 13 new areas, of which one has been carried out - the new marine national park - the first national park with marine focus.
The national plan was also meant to extend some of the existing national parks. So far Skuleskogen and Hamra have expanded. Enlargement has also commenced on the national parks of Tiveden and Björnlandet. Sarek and Gotska Sandön are also on the list of expansion.
The national parks of tomorrow
The parliament and government decide on the establishment of new national parks. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified 12 areas suitable as candidates for a future status as national parks. These are:
The arctic tundra in Tavvavuoma , Norrbotten County
Kebnekaise , Norrbotten County
Vålådalen - Sylarna in Jämtland County
Myrtäckta Blaikfjället in Västerbotten County
Western Asnen in Kronoberg County
Best Swamp , Gotland
Reivo in Norrbotten County
Vindelfjällen in Västerbotten County
Rogen Juttulslätten in Dalarna and Jämtland
Koppången in Dalarna County
Nämdö archipelago in Stockholm County
Saint Anna in Östergötland County
The Environmental Protection Agency has started working on the process with Lake Åsnen National Park. Vålådalen - Sylarna is a pilot study in progress.
The world's most finest areas
Sweden's national parks are important contributions to the international environmental management. Sarek, Padjelanta, Haparanda Archipelago and Gotska Sandon are, together with the other national parks in Sweden, included in the list of the world's finest natural areas.
Like Sweden, most countries have national parks. Many of them are world famous attractions. These include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone in the USA, the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. To name just a few.