About the Nærøyfjord area

With World Heritage Status and many protected areas of value, it is especially important to take care of the nature in this area. The combination of the unique natural heritage, human life in the landscape and people’s commitment to having good, strong communities is what characterizes this area.
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Nærøyfjorden Verdsarvpark
Helabrotet 2A , 5745 Aurland
E: post@naroyfjorden.no

Nærøyfjorden verneområdestyre,
Njøsavegen 2, 6863 Leikanger,
E: sfvlpost@statsforvalteren.no

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View over the fjord.
The West Norwegian Fjords are considered to be some of the most dramatic and spectacular landscapes in the world, with some of the longest, deepest, narrowest and most beautiful fjords. The magnificent landscape has captivated visitors throughout history. Many people believe the fjords are the ultimate symbol of Norway, the foremost fjord-country in the world. Local handicraft traditions and the local food that is produced here are value creation of the finest quality.

The Nærøyfjord area includes six protected areas, each with its unique qualities: Nærøyfjorden Protected Landscape, Bleia-Storebotnen Protected Landscape, Bleia Nature Reserve, Grånosmyrane Nature Reserve, Nordheimsdalen Nature Reserve and Geitanosi Nature Reserve.

Map over the area

World Heritage

World Heritage is cultural and natural heritage that is considered to have unique, universal value seen from a historical, artistic, scientific or aesthetic perspective. Places on the World Heritage List have been chosen because they have a special cultural or natural significance for humankind from a historical perspective. The Geirangerfjord area and the Nærøyfjord area are the first World Heritage Sites in Norway to be registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List based on their natural heritage.

Farm by the fjord.

UNESCO

UNESCO is the UN’s organization for education, science, culture and communication. The organization’s goal is to contribute to peace and security through international collaboration.

UNESCO was established on November 16, 1945, and Norway became a member in 1946. UNESCO works to create dialogue based on respect for common values and dignity for all world cultures.

What does World Heritage Status mean?

World Heritage Status denotes that a site is of exceptional significance for the whole world. Therefore, this means that the West Norwegian Fjords are of such great universal significance that special care must be taken so the whole world may enjoy them, both now and for future generations.

World Heritage Values

There are buildings and sites around the whole world that are on the World Heritage List. All have been given the status because they are considered unique and important objects that must be well looked after. Their characteristics represent universal values that are so important that everyone is obligated to take especially good care of the them.

The West Norwegian Fjords are registered on the list as natural heritage. The two areas are considered to be exceptional examples of fjord landscapes, and landscapes that are still changing due to active geological processes. This means that the landscape here is still being shaped and is in a state of change. An extra dimension regarding this World Heritage Site is the cultural landscape, traces of ancient lives, and that people actually live here today!

Persons hiking.

Nærøyfjorden Protected Landscape

Nærøyfjorden Protected Landscape is the largest of the protected areas. It was established in 2002 in order to safeguard the magnificent combination of natural and cultural landscapes. The variation from fjord to mountains create a great diversity of plant and animal life.

The area has been utilized for active farming over many centuries, and the cultural landscape is an important part of its value. Hayfields, pastures, mountain farms, pollarded trees and summer farming areas are important elements in the landscape and home to many specialized species. It is important to maintain the cultural landscape in order to preserve the special landscapes, cultural monuments and species that belong there.

Mountain top.

Bleia Nature Reserve

Bleia Nature Reserve covers an extraordinarily impressive fjord landscape surrounding Bleia mountain, on the peninsula between Lærdalsfjorden and Aurlandsfjorden. The fjord below Bleia mountain is almost 1000 meters deep, so the difference in height from the bottom of the fjord to the top of the 1717 meter high mountain is approximately 2700 meters, the highest relief in Sognefjorden. Dramatic ravines and mountain ridges contrast with the gentle mountain plateau when you reach the top. Here, you will find the remnants of the old plains from before the ice ages.

Flower.
However, the most special thing about Bleia Nature Reserve is the little flower called the Arctic poppy (Papaver radicatum ssp. relictum), which is only found in one other location in Norway (Helin in Valdres). The Arctic poppy grows in hard-to-reach areas of scree in the steep ravine-valley called Insta Dryfta. This flower has probably survived here from before the last Ice Age and is of great scientific importance.

Special rules in this area:

  • All vegetation, including dead shrubs and trees, is protected and must not be disturbed
  • Cycling and horse riding are prohibited
Persons hiking.

Bleia – Storebotnen Protected Landscape

Bleia – Storebotnen Protected Landscape covers the area between Nærøyfjorden Protected Landscape, Nordheimsdalen Nature Reserve and Bleia Nature Reserve, and was established in conjunction with the application for UNESCO status. Few people visit this area of wilderness and it is an important habitat for wild reindeer.

Special rules in this area:

  • The use of drones is prohibited
Winter, view over the fjords and mountains.

Grånosmyrane Nature Reserve

Grånosmyrane Nature Reserve is an unusually large area of marshland on the border between Aurland and Voss Municipality. The relatively flat area where Vassetelvi river widens is surrounded by small lakes and marshes that form an important breeding ground for many bird species, including several red-listed and regionally rare species. Visitors may see snow buntings and Lapland buntings, purple sandpipers, Eurasian dotterels, European golden plovers and rock ptarmigan. This rich and vulnerable birdlife is the reason why this area is protected.

Special rules in this area:

  • Pitching tents is not permitted from 1 June to 1 August due to the birdlife found in the area.
  • Dogs must be kept on a leash all year round.
Mountain scapes, wetlands.

Nordheimsdalen Nature Reserve

In Nordheimsdalen Nature Reserve, visitors can experience an ancient, primeval pine forest – a real fairy tale forest. The valley lies on the eastern side of Aurlandsfjorden and is a hanging valley that was formed by the ice. It also has a rich biodiversity. Despite the fact that this area bears many traces of logging and forestry from the past, parts of the forest are untouched and are characterized by many huge, beautiful and ancient pine trees.

Special rules in this area:

  • All vegetation, including dead shrubs and trees, is protected and must not be disturbed.
  • Cycling and horse riding are prohibited.

 

Forest, pine trees.

Geitanosi naturreservat

Geitanosi is a forest nature reserve that is characterized by rich deciduous forests, including elm and basswood forests, old boreal deciduous forests, river gorges and waterfalls. The area is home to several endangered natural habitats, and endangered and rare species have also been recorded here. In ancient times, basswood trees from this forest were used to make bast rope.

Geitanosi, fjords.

Management

The protected areas are managed by the Nærøyfjorden Protected Area Management Board. Each area has its own protection regulations that include laws applying to the area. It is the Board’s job to ensure that natural and cultural values are safeguarded, and to follow up on any breaches of the legislation.

The Board comprises of politicians from Vestland County Authority and the municipalities that make up the protected area, which are Aurland, Lærdal, Vik and Voss. Two protected landscape managers are employed as the Board Secretariat.

Protected Area Board website

 

Nature, sign with Protected landscape.

Nærøyfjorden World Heritage Park

Regional parks are well established in other European countries, but this is a concept that is still being developed in Norway. The aim of the concept is to create an integrated management of the area and increase value creation that is built on local natural and cultural resources.

Nærøyfjorden World Heritage Park is one of the first Norwegian regional parks, and is a result of grassroots development processes. The idea behind the establishment is based on a holistic approach to nature-based and culture-based social development, and a need to coordinate municipalities and actors that have a connection to the World Heritage Site.

Nærøyfjorden World Heritage Park was created as a foundation on 25 January 2008. The formal founders were Sogn and Fjordane County Authority (now Vestland County Authority) and the municipalities of Aurland, Lærdal, Vik and Voss.

Fjord in sunshine light.