New national park for Lofotodden

Despite objections, Norway will create a park to protect part of the Lofoten islands

Lofotodden new park

Photo: Alex Conu /
Fishing communities near the new park worry that it will adversely affect their livelihoods, but climate and environment minister Ola Elvestuen argues that the park is necessary to protect the area.

The Local

Norway’s government has decided to designate an area in the Lofoten archipelago a national park, despite local residents voting against it.

The Lofotodden National Park is located in Nordland county on the outer southwest edge of the Lofoten region.

“This is one of the most unique things in Norway. The area has very clear national and international preservation qualities,” climate and environment minister Ola Elvestuen told NRK.

“The new national park has landscape and nature types that do not exist in any of Norway’s other natural areas. We have now ensured that future generations will be able to enjoy the characteristic and unique landscape with its narrow, high peaks surrounded by open seas and deep fjords,” he said.

The area is rich in mountain flora and was one of the first regions to become uncovered at the end of the last Ice Age, meaning that some of the oldest types of mountain vegetation can be found there, NRK writes.

“The area we have now protected also has extremely high cultural-historical value, with traces of settlement going back to the Stone Age. Cave paintings at Kollhellaren and Bukkhammerhola have been there since Stone Age people painted them on the walls around 3,000 years ago. That says a lot about how important this area was going back a long way,” Elvestuen said.

Although local politicians were in favor of the national park, it also saw considerable opposition, with a majority in local municipality Moskenes voting against it in 2015. Opponents cited the effect of implementing a national park on the local fishing industry, among other concerns.

But Elvestuen said that creating a national park in the area would not place any new restrictions on residents.

“There will not be more limitations on transport than are necessary to comply with regulations on preservation and the aim of preservation. That does not require any changes from today, but we are ensuring that Lofotodden will be protected. A national park protection will also bring national funds for administration and maintenance of the national park,” he said to NRK.

Both Moskenes and Flakstad, the two municipalities in which the national park is located, are traditional fishing communities. Although some marine areas are included in the national park, these are not areas suitable for fishing, Elvestuen said.

The limits of the national park were designed so that most recreational buildings as well as a potential water source and the location of possible energy production facilities are placed outside it, he said.

This article originally appeared in the July 13, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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