Rønningen Ramblings: Allemannsretten
Rønningen Ramblings with Heidi Håvan Grosch
Heidi was a long-time Minnesotan until she married her favorite Norwegian, Morten, and moved to his home country of Norway. As a recent immigrant she is experiencing Norway with a unique perspective, filling us in on the good, the bad and the unexpected!
The song “give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above, don’t fence me in” might have been written in 1934 and made famous by singers like Roy Rogers, Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, and Ella Fitzgerald, but it could have also been written for modern-day Norwegians. Their love of the outdoors is evident in small children sleeping outside in strollers at naptime, older ones outside playing in pouring rain or below freezing temperatures, or the cliché attributed to these hardy Scandinavians that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing”.
It makes sense, then, that there would be a law giving Norwegians freedom to roam “without fences” wherever they please as long as they show respect for where they are and bear in mind a few simple rules. Although this freedom to roam has been a given as long as people have lived in this part of the world, it became the official “on-paper” law, Allmannsretten, in 1957. The word literally means “the right of every man,” but could also be translated “the freedom to roam” or “the right to public access” act.
Common sense dictates mostly what is allowed. For example, don’t go tramping through a farmer’s cultivated fields (illegal from April 30 – October 14), if going near a cabin don’t go into their front yard (or peak in their windows), and stay away from areas marked as animal sanctuaries (we have an island in our fjord that is off limits until July so birds can nest). Hunting has its own rules so just don’t do it. However, feel free to pick berries, mushrooms, and flowers (just not the endangered ones), and fish (although you should check with locals if in a populated area). Needless to say some things, like paintball, are never allowed.
So if you are planning a trip to Norway in the future, pack your outdoor gear and take to the hills. The starry skies are waiting, free of charge.
A few Norwegian organizations help keep an eye on things:
The Norwegian Environment Agency (www.miljodirektroatet.no)
Established last year when the Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency and the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management merged (part of the Ministry of Environment), the Norwegian Environment Agency is responsible for nature management, as well as climate and pollution issues.
The Norwegian Environment Agency has been assigned key tasks with a view to achieving the national objectives in the following fields:
• a stable climate and strengthened adaptability
• biodiverse forests
• unspoilt mountain landscapes
• lush wetlands
• a toxic-free environment
• an active outdoor life
• well-managed cultural landscapes
• living oceans and coasts
• healthy rivers and lakes
• effective waste management and recycling
• clean air and less noise pollution
The Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO)
SNO is responsible for staffing the local offices, reporting to the Norwegian Environment Agency.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 31, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.