3. Outdoor recreation

3.1 Everyone will have the opportunity to take part in outdoor recreation as a healthy and environmentally sound leisure activity that provides a sense of well-being both in their local communities and further afield in the countryside.
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3.2 Areas of value for outdoor recreation will be safeguarded and managed in a way that maintains the natural environment.
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3.1 Everyone will have the opportunity to take part in outdoor recreation as a healthy and environmentally sound leisure activity that provides a sense of well-being both in their local communities and further afield in the countryside.

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  • Knowledge about access rights 4
Are we moving in the right direction?
  • Decline in access to the shoreline 6
  • Less construction activity along the shoreline 7
Are we moving in the right direction?
  • Nine of ten applications for exemptions approved 8

Miljømål 3.1 Everyone will have the opportunity to take part in outdoor recreation as a healthy and environmentally sound leisure activity that provides a sense of well-being both in their local communities and further afield in the countryside.

Indikator: Proportion of the population who take part in outdoor recreation activities

Norwegians enjoy the outdoors

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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

A great many Norwegians take part in outdoor recreation activities, and the most popular activities are those that require little in the way of equipment and other resources. Between 2004 and 2014, the most popular activities were local walks and shorter hikes (lasting less than three hours).

The 2014 Survey of Living Conditions by Statistics Norway included questions about participation in outdoor recreation in Norway. Of the respondents (people aged 16 and over), 84 % said that they had been on local walks in the past year, and 86 % had been on shorter hikes in the forest or in the mountains.

Participation in outdoor activities varies with both education level and income, but least for activities such as walking and fishing that require little equipment or other resources. People with a higher education also have the highest level of activity in outdoor recreation. People who are in paid employment and students are generally more active than unemployed people (people report their economic status themselves for this survey).

There is less difference between social groups in participation in outdoor recreation than for other forms of physical activity, such as organised training. Differences between social groups are smallest for local walks.


Indikator: Proportion of homes, schools and day care centres in selected towns and urban areas with safe access to nearby outdoor recreation areas within a distance of 500 metres

Little change in access to outdoor recreation

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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

About half of the population of Norway's towns and urban areas have safe access to areas suitable for outdoor recreation, according to calculations by Statistics Norway. The agency surveyed access to such areas in all Norway's municipalities in 2011 and 2013. The surveys look at access to two size categories of areas suitable for outdoor recreation:

  • the percentage of residents, dwellings, schools and day care centres with safe access to large outdoor recreation areas (at least 20 hectares) within a distance of 500 metres
  • the percentage of residents, dwellings, schools and day care centres with safe access to small outdoor recreation areas (at least 0.5 hectares) within a distance of 200 metres.

Figures for 2013 show that about 49 % of people who live in towns and built-up areas have safe access to large outdoor recreation areas and about 55 % have access to smaller areas.

Substantial variation in access to large outdoor recreation areas

The surveys show that safe access to nearby outdoor recreation areas varies with the size of town or urban area. For small outdoor recreation areas, there is relatively little variation – from six of ten people in small urban areas to five of ten people in the larger towns.

Access to large outdoor recreation areas varies more. In the smallest urban areas, more than seven of ten people have safe access to such areas, whereas this is only the case for four of ten people in the largest towns. Only three of ten people living in large residential buildings such as blocks of flats have safe access to large outdoor recreation areas.

Slight improvement in access to outdoor recreation areas

From 2011 to 2013, access to large outdoor recreation areas has remained more or less unchanged, but there has been a certain increase in access to small outdoor recreation areas (3 percentage points). This is partly because a number of municipalities have reduced speed limits on residential roads from 40 or 50 km/hour to 30 km/hour. This means that more people can access areas that are suitable for outdoor recreation without crossing roads that are considered to be a barrier to access (defined in terms of traffic volumes and speed limits).


Indikator: Number of new outdoor recreation areas designated per year with financial assistance from the state

Outdoor recreation areas

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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

More and more areas are being set aside for outdoor recreation by the public authorities. Most of the new areas are along the coastline from the border Østfold to Hordaland, which is an area that has been given priority in recent years. 30 new areas were set aside for outdoor recreation in 2015.


Indikator: Proportion of the population who know something about their access rights

Knowledge about access rights

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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

Nine of ten Norwegians are aware of their access rights, and seven of ten know about the Outdoor Recreation Act.

Several surveys of people's awareness of their access rights have been carried out the last few years. A survey in 2015 ( Synovate ) shows that some aspects of statutory access rights in Norway are well known. For example, 97 per cent of the respondents know that walking and skiing is permitted in all uncultivated areas, while 96 per cent know that access rights do not mean that you are allowed to light a camp fire wherever or whenever you please.

Fewer people – 57 per cent of the respondents – know that they are also entitled to cycle on private roads in uncultivated areas. Only five of ten know that access rights also apply to larger groups, even if they are paying for the trip.


Indikator: Percentage of outdoor recreation areas designated with financial assistance from the state for which management plans have been drawn up

Outdoor recreation areas with approved management plans

Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

Norway has a scheme under which areas can be set aside for outdoor recreation with financial assistance from the state (either through purchase or under long-term agreements). At the end of 2014, management plans had been drawn up for about 50 % of these areas. The plans focus particularly on arrangements for public access and any facilities that are needed. There were 959 management plans in all, an increase of 110 since the end of 2013.

In all, 61 % of the municipalities where areas have been set aside for outdoor recreation in this way had approved management plans by the end of 2014. There is still considerable variation between counties. The proportion of municipalities that have approved management plans is highest in the counties Troms, Møre og Romsdal, Hordaland, Rogaland, Vest-Agder, Telemark, Buskerud and Østfold.


Indikator: Trend in public access to the 100-metre belt along the shoreline

Decline in access to the shoreline

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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

According to figures from Statistics Norway, about 31 % of Norway's shoreline was 'developed' (less than 100 metres from buildings, other infrastructure, or used as farmland) at the beginning of 2014. Although there has been a reduction in construction activity along the shoreline, the proportion of this zone that is not developed is still shrinking. These areas are important both for biodiversity and for outdoor recreation.

According to Statistics Norway, the proportion of the shoreline that is classified as developed is highest for Akershus (73 %) and Oslo (68 %), followed by Buskerud (just under 68 %) and Vestfold (nearly 62 %). Islands without bridges or ferry services are not included in these figures.

Along the Oslofjord, which is the most densely-populated part of the Norwegian coastline, 52 % of the coastline is less than 50 metres from the nearest building (housing, holiday homes, but not boathouses, industrial buildings and hotels).

In the most popular holiday areas along the coastline from Aust-Agder to Nord-Trøndelag, 29 % of the shoreline is less than 50 metres from buildings, while only 13 % of the rest of the coastline in these counties is less than 50 metres from the nearest building.


Less construction activity along the shoreline

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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

There has been less construction in the 100-metre belt along the shoreline in recent years. For Norway as a whole, the number of new buildings constructed along the shoreline dropped by almost 20 % from 2005 to 2013.

According to figures from Statistics Norway, construction activity in the 100-metre belt along the shoreline was lower in most counties in 2013 than in 2012. The only exceptions were Nord-Trøndelag and Vestfold, where construction activity increased.

In 2013, Hordaland was still the county with most construction activity along the shoreline, although there has been a considerable decrease in the last few years. The largest numbers of new buildings within the 100-metre belt along the shoreline are now being constructed outside built-up areas, and the majority of these buildings are holiday homes.


Indikator: Number of approved applications for new buildings along the Norwegian coast

Nine of ten applications for exemptions approved

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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

The number of applications for exemptions from the general ban on construction in the 100-metre belt along the shoreline seems to vary with construction activity.

The municipalities received growing numbers of applications for exemptions for construction along the shoreline in the period 2006-2010. According to calculations by Statistics Norway, based on local government statistics, the number of applications for exemptions rose from around 1200 to 1500 per year in this five-year period. Most applications were approved.

Since 2010, there has been some decrease in the number of applications, in line with the trend in construction activity. However, the proportion of applications that are approved has been rising, and reached almost nine of ten in 2014.


3.2 Areas of value for outdoor recreation will be safeguarded and managed in a way that maintains the natural environment.

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  • Participation in "The sustainable backpack" project 9

Miljømål 3.2 Areas of value for outdoor recreation will be safeguarded and managed in a way that maintains the natural environment.

Indikator: Number of schools taking part in "The sustainable backpack" project

Participation in "The sustainable backpack" project

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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

"The sustainable backpack" project is a large-scale initiative for the school sector, and is intended to awaken children's interest in and curiosity about nature, sustainable development and the world's environmental problems. It is also designed to develop their understanding of and ability to devise solutions to current and future environmental problems.

Schools are encouraged to make use of nearby countryside and green spaces in their teaching and to link environment, outdoor recreation and sustainable development with school subjects – science, social studies and food and health. In the school year 2014/2015, almost 5 % of primary and lower secondary schools and 6 % of upper secondary schools took part in the initiative.