Lumbering bull walruses weighing well over a ton wait to mate in midwinter. Tusks almost two feet (0.6 m) long may be used to pry molluscs off seabeds but seem primarily social rather than practical in function. They locate food in pitch-black depths using sensitive nasal skin and whiskers and dislodge crustaceans by squirting large jets of water under high pressure from their mouths, an ability familiar to zookeepers.

Environmental legislation dates back almost a century in this narrow mountainous country with one of the world’s most irregular coastlines, just over 1,000 air miles (1,609 km) long but more than 12 times that counting indentations plus more than 53,000 small coastal islands.

By the end of 1990 this western half of the Scandinavian peninsula had nature reserves covering 5.6 percent of the country including 17 national parks, with more planned.

Despite this and a relatively benign environmental stance by European standards— Norwegians strongly favor clean air and water—habitat loss from logging, wetland drainage, hydroelectric dams,and acid rain has placed 898 plant and animal species on the endangered or threatened list. Overfishing has caused drastic decline in once-bountiful fish stocks, nearly wiping out herring and greatly depleting cod and others. Aquaculture escapes have damaged wild populations, and environmentalists worldwide have protested Norway’s stance on resumption of sealing and whaling.

Still, places of great beauty and wildlife interest remain both in and out of protected land. Among them:

Dovrefjell National Park, Romsdal, southeast, known for musk oxen.

Hardangervidda National Park, vast 1,320-square-mile (3,422-km2) upland alpine plateau dominating south-central Norway, home to Europe’s largest wild reindeer herd.

Jan Mayen Island,147 square miles (382 km2), out in the Arctic Ocean 620 miles (1,000 km) west of Norway, 310 miles (500 km) east of Greenland and 373 miles (600 km) north-northeast of Iceland, with Norway’s only active volcano and highly important breeding seabird populations,without protected areas but deserving of some.

Ovre Dividal National Park, lovely wild 287 square miles (743 km2) lying at the heart of a network of trekking routes in northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland, home—still—to some of Norway’s rare predators: brown bears, wolverines, wolves, lynx.

Ovre Pasvik National Park is only 26 square miles (67 km2), tucked between Finland and Russia, boreal forest, large muskeg areas, a few rare brown bears, many migratory birds in summer.


as well as...

Dovrefjell National Park

Hardangervidda National Park

Jan Mayen Island

Ovre Dividal National Park

Ovre Pasvik National Park


More about the Reserves in norway

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