Sweden's relatively slow population growth and an effective conservation movement have helped preserve the nation's extensive forest resources. By the end of 1985 there were 19 national parks covering 618,070 hectares (1,527,276 acres), 1,215 nature reserves of 870,748 hectares (2,151,653 acres), and 2,016 other protected landscape areas of 540,064 hectares (1,334,520 acres). As of 2001, protected areas accounted for 8.1% of Sweden's total land area. However, about 15 million cu m of forestland are damaged each year.
In 1996, industrial carbon dioxide emissions exceeded 54 million metric tons. Other pollutants include sulphur air, nitrogen compounds, oil, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), radon, and methane. The pollution of the nation's water supply is also a significant problem. Factory effluents represent a threat to water quality, and airborne sulfur pollutants have so acidified more than 16,000 lakes that fish can no longer breed in them. Sweden has 178 cu km of renewable water resources with 4% used for farming and 30% used for industrial purposes. Principal responsibility for the environment is vested in the National Environmental Protection Agency.
One of the most controversial environmental questions was put to rest by a March 1980 referendum in which a small plurality of the electorate (39.3%) supported expansion of nuclear power to no more than 12 reactors by the mid-1980s, but with provisions for the nationalization of nuclear energy, for energy conservation, and for the phaseout of nuclear power within an estimated 20–25 years. As of 2002, only one reactor had been shut down and nuclear power was providing nearly half of the nation's electricity.
In 2001, five of the nation's mammal species, four bird species, and three plant species were endangered. Endangered species include the blue ground beetle and cerambyx longhorn. Protected fauna include the wild reindeer, golden eagle, and crane.