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Green areas within and around urban areas 2015

Green structure of every urban area mapped

Statistical news from Statistics Sweden 2019-12-05 9.30

Statistics Sweden has mapped the green structure in all localities in Sweden for the first time. The last time the survey on green areas in urban areas was carried out, in 2010, statistics could only be produced for the 37 largest localities. This time, the statistics include all localities, from Stockholm, with one million inhabitants, to the smallest localities with about 200 inhabitants.

Through government agency cooperation stretching over several years concerning Swedish National Land Cover Mapping, Statistics Sweden has gained access to substantially more data, enabling calculations for all localities in Sweden. In total, the land cover mapping comprises 620 000 hectares of land, in 1 979 localities, based on Statistics Sweden’s 2015 locality boundaries.

Small localities are greenest

It is hardly surprising that the smallest localities are also among the greenest ones. For example, in small localities such as Östorp and Ådran (Huddinge municipality), and Kalkudden (Strängnäs municipality), green space accounted for 90 percent of the land area in the locality. The population in the smallest localities (200-499 inhabitants) had 1 980 m2 green space per person on average. This can be compared with the largest localities (100 000 inhabitants or more), where the corresponding green space was 183 m2 per person on average.

Green space per person in localities in 2015, by locality size class based on population

Chart: Total green space per capita in urban areas by population size groups in 2015

Among the larger localities with 30 000 inhabitants or more, Åkersberga was the greenest locality in 2015, where 75 percent of the land formed part of some type of green structure. Åkersberga was not among the 37 localities examined in 2010, since its population was not sufficiently large at the time. Lidingö locality, which was greenest in 2010, remains in the top tier among larger localities, where green space accounts for about 70 percent of the land.

On average, about 37 percent of total green space in localities was linked to private residential gardens, or inaccessible to the public in some other way. Among the larger localities (30 000 inhabitants or more), Northeast Göteborg and Luleå had the largest share of green space accessible to the public, over 80 percent. This can be compared to the corresponding share in Åkersberga, which was 51 percent.

Access to green area within 200 metres for 94 percent of urban population

On average, 94 percent of the urban population had access to at least one green area within 200 metres of their home. Proximity to green areas differed only slightly between large and small localities. Nor were there any major differences between genders or age groups. Children and young people (0-15 years) had slightly better access to green areas on average.

Is it possible to follow changes over time?

Yes, to some extent. There is comparative data on the limited number of largest localities also included in the study in 2010. However, it is important to take into account that the urban landscape also changes over time, which means that comparisons between years do not compare exactly the same land areas. Statistics Sweden plans to publish supplementary data in the coming year, in which the 2010 locality boundaries are used in combination with 2015 land data to facilitate direct comparisons between years.

More statistics in the Statistical Database

The Statistical Database contains many tables with data on green areas in and around urban areas, as well as data aggregated at municipal, county and national level.

Definitions and explanations

Green space

Refers to all types of green spaces that constitute the total green structure within the locality border, such as public parks, open lawns, and other wooded or grassland spaces, green spaces abandoned during construction, residential gardens, green spaces between multi-dwelling buildings or industrial buildings, and green thoroughfares between roads, and so on. Green space breaks down into the subcategories ‘open land’ and ‘forest’.

Green area

Refers to an area with connected green spaces of at least 0.5 hectares that are accessible to the public. Pastures are classified as green areas, but arable land is not. Green areas are delimited geographically within a locality and within a three-kilometre boundary outside the locality border. In the statistics, green areas are grouped by sizes 0.5-3 hectares, 3-10 hectares, and 10 hectares and more. The smallest study domain is 0.5 hectares.


A more detailed report of this survey is published in the report Green space and green areas in urban areas 2015 (in Swedish, pdf)

Statistical Database

More information is available in the Statistical Database

Feel free to use the facts from this statistical news but remember to state Source: Statistics Sweden.

Statistical agency and producer

Statistics Sweden, Environmental accounts and Environment

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Jerker Moström

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