State

70 species of plants and animals are protected

Today 70 species of vascular plants, moss species and species of invertebrates are permanently protected. Most of these species are also protected throughout Europe, under the Bern Convention.

A number of other species are protected or catches are regulated through the Wildlife Act or the Act relating to salmonids and freshwater fish.

Pressure

Modern society is changing the environment

The change from a scattered agricultural population of 19th century Norway to a modern industrial society has also greatly changed the natural environment.

Towns have grown in size and population, and the introduction of modern methods in agriculture and forestry has changed both agricultural landscapes and the wilder countryside. As a result of these changes many habitats are disappearing and being replaced by man-made habitats. This affects the very survival of many species.

Response

Strict protection for some species

Norway's first Act on nature conservation was passed in 1910, and was applied for the first time in 1911, when 52 plant species were protected in the Dovrefjell area. This was a response to the large-scale collection of rare plants that had started in the area at the turn of the century. In 1970 the act was replaced by the Nature Conservation Act, and in 2009 by the Nature Diversity Act.

A number of endangered and vulnerable species and their environment have a strict protection in areas protected under the Nature Diversity Act, and more will be protected in connection with the establishment of new protected areas.

Today the Wildlife Act is based on the principle that all mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and their eggs, nests and lairs, are protected unless otherwise specified. For example, hunting periods have been defined for some species.

Protection of habitats essential

Habitat change or destruction is the most dangerous threat to many species in Norway. Protection of their habitats is essential for ensuring biological diversity. Some threatened and vulnerable species and their habitats are strictly protected under the Nature Diversity Act (national parks, nature reserves etc.). 

All sectors in Norway are now urged to integrate environmental considerations into their own tasks. The municipalities have for example surveyed key habitats in forests and biological diversity within their boundaries. To safeguard species, it is not enough to protect them against harvesting and collection: what is most important is to protect the environments they live in. This means that land use is a very important factor and that special attention must be paid to important habitats in connection with land-use planning.

In a regulation under the Nature Diversity Act, that entered into force in May 2011, the first eight species were prioritized. This implies that the eight species should be managed by a separate regulation adapted to each species, and which replaces the earlier protection provisions under the Nature Diversity Act. For several species, this will imply a strengthening of the management of their habitats.