There’s a lot that has been cancelled over the last year but one thing we’ve still been able to enjoy is nature. More than ever, we’ve put on our walking shoes, dug out the old backpack and embarked on a hiking journey, however short or long. Nothing better to empty a head filled with thoughts of Covid-19 than some fresh air and birdsongs. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find an unspoiled piece of nature not too far away from home.
Actually, that heavily depends on where you live, according to a recent study by SaveOnEnergy After analyzing about 80,000 nature reserves all over Europe, they calculated which countries count the most nature reserves, both in absolute numbers and in relation to their surface. It may surprise you (or not) but when they looked at the percentage of a country’s surface that’s taken up by nature reserves, the smallest countries score best.
1. Go Luxemburg!
One of Europe’s smallest countries is Luxemburg, counting no more than 2,585 square kilometers. However, there are 134 nature reserves on that tiny piece of land, meaning that 76% of the country exists of protected nature. No wonder that, with those numbers, Luxemburg is Europe’s best scoring country. Others who came out very well are Slovenia and Malta, which respectively exist of 72% and 65% nature reserves. Cyprus and Liechtenstein complete the top five.
When looking at the absolute numbers, however, the list looks completely different. That’s not surprising as little countries like Liechtenstein and Cyprus can’t exactly compete with some of Europe’s mastodons. Germany counts the most nature reserves with 17, 654 square kilometers, directly followed by Sweden (15.254). Other country’s that score particularly well are Switzerland (10.423), the U.K. (9.032) and France (3.812).
2. Serbia, Belgium and Portugal don’t do well
Of course not everyone can excel. When looking at the relative numbers, Serbia is scoring the worst with only 7% of its surface being protected. Belgium and Portugal don’t do a lot better though, with respectively 8% and 9% of nature reserves.
So even though Europe has a lot of natural beauty to offer, there still is a ton of work to do when it comes to natural preservation. If you’re living in one of the countries which score best in this field, you’re in luck. Make the most out of your spare time and go for a hike, whether it is in the mountains or at the seaside. Not so lucky? Well, now you know where to go once we can all travel freely again!