Species in Norway

Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

About 44 000 species have been registered as living in the wild in Norway, but the real figure is probably closer to 55 000, according to the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre. Our knowledge of their population status varies widely; for some species groups, reliable figures are available, whereas relatively little is known about others, for example various invertebrate groups.

Wolves have been protected in Norway since 1973, but they are still classified as critically endangered. Photo: Kim Abel, Naturarkivet.no
Ospreys are summer visitors in Norway, generally arriving in April. Like other birds of prey, ospreys are protected. Photo: Bård Bredesen, Naturarkivet.no
The Pacific oyster is native to the Pacific coast of Asia, but has been deliberately introduced to other parts of the world for commercial farming. Pacific oysters settle at high densities, forming oyster beds that can transform an ecosystem. Photo: Kim Abel, Naturarkivet.no
The lesser white-fronted goose is endangered throughout its range and is classified as critically endangered in the Norwegian Red List. It has also been designated as a priority species under the Nature Diversity Act. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A hooded seal. This is one of the largest seal species in the North Atlantic, and also the one that dives deepest, to more than 1000 metres. It is estimated that more than half the European population of hooded seals lives in Norwegian waters, giving us a special responsibility for managing the species. Photo: Michael Poltermann

The Norwegian Red List for Species (2015) lists 2355 species as threatened. Nevertheless, there are still serious gaps in our knowledge, and a great deal of uncertainty about the true number of species in Norway and about the status of many of these species.



Environment.no provides information on species in categories that are of particular concern to the authorities. They may need to be taken into account in planning processes, need special management or even be undesirable in Norway. It does not include information on widespread and common Norwegian species such as the mountain hare, red squirrel and red fox.

Species categories

On Environment.no, you will find information on various categories of species that are of particular concern to the authorities. Some need to be taken into account when planning or need active management to avoid population decline or loss, whereas invasive species must be controlled to avoid damage to the native flora and fauna.

The Environmental Directorate has compiled a list of about 4600 species that are considered to be of particular concern, and has divided them into a number of categories:

  • Threatened and near-threatened species
  • Priority species
  • Species protected under special regulations
  • Alien species
  • Species for which Norway has a special responsibility

In addition, the list includes a small number of other important species and ecological variants that are not assessed as part of the work on the Red List. These are species that do not meet the criteria for any of the other species categories in the list, but that are nevertheless of particular concern to the authorities.

Threatened and near-threatened species

Threatened species are animals and plants that are at risk of global or regional extinction, often as a result of human activity. The Norwegian Red List is the official overview of threatened species in Norway. The IUCN Red List is the global equivalent.

In Norway, the Arctic fox, wolf and common guillemot are examples of critically threatened species. Species in this category that are considered to be at the greatest risk of extinction, either locally or globally.

Priority species

Species that need special protection or active management to safeguard them can be designated as priority species under the Nature Diversity Act. So far, 13 priority species have been designated.

Species protected under special regulations

There are various forms of species protection in Norway (the Wildlife Act protects all terrestrial mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians except those specifically defined as game species). This category of protected species includes only those (mainly plants and insects) that have been individually given permanent protection under separate regulations.

Alien species

Alien species are those that have been spread by human activity to areas where they are not native, either deliberately or unintentionally. Species that are native to part of Norway are also considered to be alien species if they are moved or spread to parts of the country where they are not found naturally.

Many alien species in Norway pose little or no threat to biodiversity. However, some can cause serious damage in areas where they do not belong and are considered to pose an ecological risk. They are known as invasive alien species. They often have few natural predators and spread easily, outcompeting native species, and therefore readily become established in Norway.

Species for which Norway has a special responsibility

For species with a large proportion of the population in Norway, overall population trends and ultimately the survival of the species can depend strongly on Norway's actions and species management. If 25 % or more of the European population of a species is found in Norway, it is defined as a species for which Norway has special responsibility. Not all species in this category are threatened or near-threatened – some of them have sizeable, healthy populations in Norway.

According to the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre, there are at least 965 species for which Norway has special responsibility, a good many of which are Arctic species found in and around the Svalbard archipelago. Of the species in this category, 159 are also classified as threatened species in the Red List. The species groups most frequently represented in this category are vascular plants (298 species) and Diptera (139 species).