The greatest threat to natural diversity in Norway is the destruction and splitting up of plant and wildlife habitats. In order to protect our natural environment and to preserve areas of international, national and regional value, we establish nature reserves, national parks and other protected areas. Protected areas may also be established in order to safeguard the uniqueness of the Norwegian landscape and Norway's cultural heritage.
Management of protected areas
Responsibility for the management of protected areas is divided between central government and local public authorities. Responsibility for the management of most nature reserves lies with the County Governor. Since 2010, municipalities that include areas within national parks or important protected areas have been able to take over responsibility for their management. Several inter-municipal management boards have been set up in respect of protected areas. Each board has a secretary who is a state-employed protected areas manager.
Authorities that are responsible for the management of protected areas are responsible primarily for applying conservation rules and preparing management and conservation plans. They are also responsible for providing information and waymarking in protected areas and for the maintenance of paths and bridges. These activities are often carried out in collaboration with Norway's national nature surveillance agency (Statens Naturoppsyn, or SNO).
Freedom to roam in protected areas
Norway's general public right of freedom to roam ("allmannsretten") means that you are allowed to roam freely in protected areas. You must exercise this right considerately at all times and ensure that no disturbance is caused to plants or wildlife. Access to certain areas may be prohibited at certain times of year, for example during breeding seasons. Hunting and fishing is permitted in most protected areas so long as you have a valid hunting or fishing licence. You are free to pick berries and mushrooms.
There is a general objective to restrict the use of motorised vehicles in protected areas. This is to protect plants and wildlife, prevent damage caused by tyre tracks and prevent disturbance through unnecessary noise.