Photo: Rune Holen, Norwegian Nature Inspectorate

Repaired nature for NOK 50 million

The Norwegian Environment Agency allocated NOK 54.1 million to measures in protected areas last year. The aim is to take care of nature and also facilitate outdoor activities.

Norway has established nearly 2,800 protected areas across the entire country. The purpose is to safeguard vulnerable and endangered ecosystems and preserve areas that are internationally, nationally, and regionally valuable.

The measures funded by the Norwegian Environment Agency through its field agency, the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO), seek to bolster the protected natural values, facilitate the eco-friendly use of the outdoors, and eliminate threats to biodiversity. Many protected areas are also important recreational areas, and facilitating recreational use is also a public health issue.

Balancing between use and protection

"It can be difficult to balance between use and protection," says SNO director Pål Prestrud. "The ideal is to facilitate use so that people can move safely in nature without diminishing the natural values of the protected areas. We have spent the funds on various measures such as channelling traffic, building over twenty bridges, laying duckboards in wetlands, reinforcing steep and vulnerable terrain with rocks, and setting up signs."

Movement in the Jostedal Glacier National Park became much easier after the path to Flatbrehytta in Fjærland was repaired. The same occurred with the old road over Kamperhamrane in Stryn.

Other measures include clearing woods and thickets, cutting hay in meadows and marshes, and burning heather under proper supervision. Invasive species such as the Sitka spruce, the Japanese rose, and the mink have been removed.

Basis for tourism

"All the management measures, such as hay-cutting, take place over several years," Prestrud explains. "If hay-cutting is not kept up, the old cultural landscape will in the long run become overgrown with thickets and trees. Traditional use has created cultural landscapes that we have learned to appreciate and that in many places serve as the basis for tourism."

Gaulosen, the Nærøyfjord, and Sølendet near Røros are areas where we each year finance measures to keep the cultural landscape intact. Some places also set out grazing animals in order to continue a tradition that would otherwise have died out.

Ducks return

Protected Areas

The government and the Storting establish the framework for the protection of nature in Norway. The Norwegian Environment Agency, the County Governors, and the Governor of Svalbard are responsible for carrying out protective measures based on the Nature Diversity Act and the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act.

There are several different types of protected areas that vary in what is to be protected and how strict the protection is. We distinguish between national parks, landscape protection areas, nature reserves, biotope protection areas, and marine protected areas.

Most of the protected areas do not prohibit movement, and the right to roam applies there as it does otherwise. In some protected areas, however, there is a prohibition against movement during the nesting and breeding seasons for birds and animals.

Restoring wetlands is another prioritized task. 

The aim is to restore wetlands to their original condition, so as to encourage the return of species that no longer are to be found there. Tautra in Nord-Trøndelag and Skottvatnet in Oppland are two examples of such restoration, which takes place over several years, and where ducks and waders are again teeming.

Invasive species are undesirable in Norwegian nature because they supplant indigenous species. The mink irreparably harms the stock of seabirds, and some of the funds are used to remove this species. In spring 2014, many seabirds will be able to nest with a far greater chance of success than before, for example in the bird reserves at Smøla and Varanger.

Creates local values

The Norwegian Nature Inspectorate does not carry out all the measures itself. Statskog (the state-owned land and forest enterprise), mountain boards, and local enterprises are also involved in the work, so that much of the value adding is disposed of in local communities. Making tourist attractions accessible, such as the Storsetefossen Waterfall in Geiranger, creates a better basis for commercial activity in rural areas.

Some measures are co-financed, for example with contributions from NGOs, power plants, and farmers with grazing rights. Sømmen Bridge in Hardangervidda is one such example. It was funded by the Norwegian Environment Agency along with Statkraft, Buskerud Landbruksselskap, the Norwegian Trekking Association, and local grazing associations and landowners. In that way, the funds accomplish more than if the stakeholders had operated on their own.

A total of NOK 54.1 million was allocated to measures in protected areas in 2013.

Type of measure

NOK (in millions)

Information

 8.5

Surveying and monitoring

 6.0

Care/management

13.3

Facilitating recreational use

19.5

Removing invasive species

 3.7

Restoration and maintenance

 3.1

Total

54.1

Topic