A suspension bridge in Rago National Park in Nordland county. Photo: Kim Abel, naturarkivet.no

What are you allowed to do in protected areas?

Norway’s statutory access rights generally apply in protected areas as well, so that you are free to visit them whenever you like. However, it is crucial to show respect for the environment and avoid damaging or disturbing plants and animals. In addition, there may be restrictions in specific areas closed at certain times of year, for example during the breeding and nesting season.

You can visit Norway’s protected areas to watch birds, look for mammals and insects, pick berries and mushrooms, enjoy the wild flowers or see signs of human activity ranging from prehistoric rock carvings to old hay meadows. In some areas there are facilities for visitors – for example waymarked paths, bird hides and information signs. In national parks and protected landscapes, there is often overnight accommodation in cabins, which may be staffed or unstaffed.

Limiting disturbance

Certain protected areas are particularly vulnerable, and visitor numbers and disturbance need to be limited. This can be done by keeping facilities such as paths, ski trails and cabins to a minimum, If necessary, paths may be rerouted, for example to steer people away from a breeding site for rare birds or an important reindeer migration route.

Hunting and fishing

As a general rule, hunting and fishing are allowed in protected areas provided that you have a valid hunting or fishing licence. These activities are regulated by the Wildlife Act and the Act relating to salmonids and freshwater fish. You may not use live fish as bait or move fish from one river system to another.

Motor traffic

Motor vehicles, including off-road vehicles, are generally forbidden in protected areas so as not to disturb wildlife or cause wear and tear and damage to the vegetation and terrain. This also allows visitors to enjoy the peace and quiet of the natural surroundings. However, there may be public roads, for example through national parks, that are open to ordinary traffic, and exceptions are often made for essential traffic, for example in connection with agriculture and forestry.