Target 2.1 | Miljøstatus

Miljømål 2.1 Losses of cultural monuments and sites will be minimised.

Indikator: Percentage annual loss of cultural monuments and sites in selected areas

Indikator: Percentage annual loss of buildings on the SEFRAK register in selected areas

1 % per year losses of SEFRAK-listed buildings

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

In 2014, the third control survey of SEFRAK-registered buildings was carried out in the following four municipalities: Holmestrand (Vestfold), Samnanger (Hordaland), Bø (Telemark) and Sarpsborg (Østfold). The previous control survey in the four municipalities was carried out in 2009. In all, 2 770 buildings were inspected, and it was found that 142 buildings had been lost since 2008. This gives an average annual loss of 1 %. 

The 2014 surveys completed the third round of control surveys, so that all the 18 municipalities that are included in the monitoring programme have been inspected between 2010 and 2014. When the monitoring programme started in 2000, it included about 14 000 SEFRAK-registered buildings. After 15 years, only 10 750 of them were left. Of these, 4 % are seriously at risk, 10 % are at risk and 46 % have been altered. The rate of loss has been generally high since 2000, at around 1 % per year. 

Conservation through active use

Other results of the survey confirm previously observed trends. Since the monitoring programme began, most buildings have been lost because they were demolished, as a result of planning decisions by the authorities or because they have been moved. Some have also been lost through neglect and decay or as a result of fire or natural causes. Accumulated losses have been particularly high for summer farm buildings, outlying hay barns and large agricultural buildings such as barns/livestock sheds. There also appears to be a tendency for SEFRAK-registered buildings that are safeguarded through municipal planning decisions to show a lower rate of loss and be in better condition.  

The rate of loss is lower for building types that are in active use. Buildings that have been altered are generally in better condition than those without any alterations. If new functions can be found for buildings, the result may be restoration and active use once again – for example, if barns and other farm buildings are re-used as holiday homes. Clarifying the types of changes that can be allowed and ensuring that permission is obtained for any change of function are important ways of safeguarding buildings that are registered in SEFRAK. 

Disuse results in deterioration 

The most important risk factor for all types of buildings is disuse. If it is difficult to find new functions for buildings, they are likely to deteriorate gradually until they are in such poor structural condition that they cannot be restored, and are ultimately lost. 

The rate of loss of outhouses is decreasing. This may be because it is easier to find new functions for them and they occupy less space than other building categories. They also include building types that have higher status, such as the characteristic Norwegian storehouses on pillars (stabbur).


Indikator: Total area of zones where special considerations under the Planning and Building Act apply to protect the cultural heritage

Total area of zones where special considerations apply to protect the cultural heritage

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

Construction and other physical disturbance can be a threat to valuable cultural monuments, sites and environments. The way areas around monuments and sites are regulated is therefore important. They can for example be classified as zones where special considerations apply under the Planning and Building Act, so that the municipality can regulate activities in the area. 

Municipalities can establish zones where special considerations apply to protect and regulate the use of areas that are under threat or are particularly vulnerable. They report to Statistics Norway every year on how much of the area of the municipality is regulated in this way to protect the cultural heritage. The total area safeguarded has risen in recent years.


Indikator: Percentage annual loss of cultural heritage elements in the agricultural landscape

Cultural heritage in agricultural landscape: losses

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

Aerial photography is being used to document the cultural heritage in the agricultural landscape. It is a challenging task to monitor the status of buildings, dry-stone walls, ruins and other elements of the cultural heritage, because many of them are hidden by vegetation, making it difficult to interpret the aerial photos. Between 11 and 15 per cent of the cultural heritage elements have been lost, but no major changes have been registered in the five years since the previous survey.

Only small changes in land use around the cultural heritage elements were registered in this five-year period. The results showed some decline in the area of forest, and also less arable land/meadow/horticultural land. There was an increase in the area of open farmland that is not being actively managed. This may indicate a growing tendency for open landscapes to become overgrown.

Little traditional use of summer farms

Almost 1600 traditional summer farms in selected regions have been investigated. The results show that almost 70 per cent of the farmhouses are in good condition, but this is only true of 43 per cent of the cowsheds and other livestock buildings, and 29 per cent of the barns. More than 25 per cent of the summer farms show no sign of any form of use. This generally means that the buildings will deteriorate and the landscape will become overgrown. 

Only 4 per cent of the summer farms are still used for milk production, while about 30 per cent are used for grazing or haymaking. Almost 60 per cent of the summer farms are used only as private holiday cabins, and about 1 per cent are used in the tourist industry (offering accommodation, meals or information).
The proportion of summer farms that are in use varies between regions of Norway. The terrain in Eastern Norway is less rugged, and the summer farms are generally more accessible than those in the fjord areas of Western Norway. This has a considerable impact on how much they are used and how well they are maintained. About 7 per cent of the summer farms are connected to the electricity grid, and this also influences how much they are used.

Better figures available in five years’ time

So far, only cultural heritage elements in selected regions of Norway have been investigated. It will take roughly another five years before data collection is completed, giving a better picture for Norway as a whole.


Indikator: Number of municipalities that have an updated overview of cultural monuments, sites and environments

Indikator: Number of municipalities that have drawn up cultural heritage plans under the Planning and Building Act

Number of municipal cultural heritage plans

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

Local government statistics show a general rise in the number of municipalities where cultural heritage plans have been adopted. About 200 municipalities now have updated cultural heritage plans (out of a total of 429 municipalities). However, it is worrying that over half of the Norwegian municipalities do not have sufficient knowledge of the cultural heritage within their boundaries, and that they have not adopted any plans to protect them.

The Directorate for Cultural Heritage provides support for drawing up municipal heritage plans as part of a programme for building up cultural heritage expertise in the municipalities.


Indikator: Number of municipalities that have employees with cultural heritage expertise

Indikator: Number of cultural monuments, sites and environments registered in the database Askeladden