Most of the boreal forest in Norway is used for forestry, and only 2% of the productive forest is protected. However, low spatial coverage of reserves may be compensated for by higher species' densities and higher number of species so that larger fractions of total population sizes occur inside reserves than their area alone suggests. We compared densities of boreal birds and proportion of known sites for species found within boreal forest reserves and unprotected boreal forest in SE Norway. Point counts showed that neither mean density nor species numbers differed between areas, and only a few species were more common inside reserves. To increase data quantity for rarer species, we used species lists from 429 sites. Several species occurred more frequently inside reserves than outside, and reserves most often had 5%–35% of known sites of individual species. Many of the reserves were protected in 1993, when a number of other areas, still unprotected, were proposed as reserves. Logging has occurred in 74% of proposed reserves and 28% of their total area has been logged after 1993. Although boreal forest reserves had higher proportions of known sites for many species than the size of the reserves would suggest, the majority of the populations of most species occurred outside reserves. Thus, the future of boreal bird species in Norway will to a large degree depend on how unprotected forest is managed.
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