Norway names 14 new Wetlands of International Importance

Norway names 14 new Wetlands of International Importance

9 September 2002

The Ramsar Bureau is absolutely delighted to announce that the Government of Norway has designated 14 new Wetlands of International Importance, to be dated as of 6 August 2002. Senior Adviser Øystein Størkersen of the Directorate for Nature Management in Trondheim notes that all of these new Ramsar sites, which extend from the populous and more developed regions of the south to the sparsely developed regions of the north, are presently protected as Nature Reserves, and most are being designated for their importance for migratory birds, though many other functions and values (such as flood control and water cleansing) have been listed as well.

In addition, Norway is considerably extending the Ramsar site formerly known as Jæren (designated in 1985), now renamed Jæren Wetland System, with the addition of 18 new "units", bringing the area encompassed from 400 to 3256 hectares.

Norway has now zoomed into 8th place, in terms of planet Earth, in the number of Wetlands of International Importance so far designated, with 37 - trailing only the UK (169), Australia (57), Sweden (51), Italy (46), Ireland (45), Denmark and Spain (38), and nudging ahead of Canada (36) [which, however, could respond by boasting of 116 times more land area covered].

All friends of the Convention will be pleased to learn of these fascinating new Ramsar sites. Brief descriptions follow here, based upon Ramsar Information Sheets submitted by the Party in coordination with advice from Bureau personnel. The title line of each new site indicates Name, date of listing, county within Norway, surface area in hectares, coordinates of a central point; and protection status.

Balsfjord Wetland System. 06/08/02; Troms; 1,915 ha; 69°21'N 019°03'E. Nature Reserves.

Comprises two large marine tidal areas in the inner part of the fjord, which at low tide reveal large areas of mud- and sandflats. Wet meadows fringe the areas between the areas of the Ramsar site and the cultivated areas outside it, and gallery forests outline the site in some areas. Several rivers and streams discharge into the fjord through the tidal flats. The site is one of only two in northern Norway for large numbers of spring migrant Knots Calidris canutus islandica; both the Knot and the Slavonian Grebe are present in internationally important numbers. Some grazing and gravel digging is practiced by local people, but the site enjoys low traffic and little human impact. Ramsar site no. 1186.

Bliksvær. 06/08/02; Nordland; 4,000 ha; 67°17'N 014°00'E. Nature Reserves.

A complex of five nature reserves along the northwestern coast, comprising numerous skerries and islets and a larger island, with shallow marine waters, rocky shores, and some sandy beaches, as well as wet meadows, dunes and dune slacks, and brackish marshes typical of the region. The White-tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaetus albicilla) is supported, and the site provides a breeding area for a number of other representative seabirds. Seagull eggs and eider down have for centuries been collected in the area, in a close relationship between man and bird along the northern coast, but the practice has been largely abandoned - since this activity had been advantageous for local breeding populations of seabirds through building of eider-houses and lowering of predation levels, plans have been made to reinvigorate these practices, including the increase of traditional scything of meadows. Ramsar site no. 1187.

Dokkadelta. 06/08/02; Oppland; 366 ha; 60°48'N 010°08'E. Nature Reserve.

The second largest inland delta in southern Norway, where the rivers Etna and Dokka flow into lake Randsfjorden, with numerous islets dominated by shrubs and alder/shrub gallery forest, with flora characteristic of wet meadows. As an unspoilt estuary that has become rare in the region, the site's value for preserving regional biodiversity is high. It also has an important function as a staging area for several migratory bird species. A management plan has been developed to restart traditional scything of swamp vegetation and wet meadows for animal fodder, and some traditional hay-houses have been restored. Regulation of the lake for hydropower production has had relatively little impact on the protected area. Ramsar site no. 1188.

Fokstumyra. 06/08/02; Oppland; 785 ha; 62°08'N 009°15'E. Nature Reserve.

Norway's first nature reserve (1923), a flat alpine landscape with extensive mires interspersed with lakes and large tracts of shrubs and aquatic vegetation. Well-known to birdwatchers for some 40 species of waterbirds and a number of alpine passerine species, as well as one of the largest population of Great Snipe in Europe. The site is also lightly used for leisure activities such as walking and fishing. Ramsar site no. 1189.

Havmyran. 06/08/02; Sør-Trøndlag; 4,000 ha; 63°30'N 008°35'E. Nature Reserve.

A unspoilt characteristic coastal Atlantic mire and lake system that serves as an important breeding site for several bird species, most notably Southern Dunlin (Calidris alpina spp schinzii) in 10-20 pairs. The pine Pinus sylvestris is found on the peripheries, partly of old growth character. Human uses include low-impact leisure walking, sport fishing, and berrypicking. A monitoring programme is observing possible increased levels of nitrogen in precipitation originating from a newly-opened gas refinery some 4 km away. Ramsar site no. 1190.

Hynna. 06/08/02; Oppland; 1,547 ha; 61°13'N 009°55'E. Nature Reserve.

A representative mire habitat of northern latitude, flat or weakly sloping mire with extremely wet terraces mixed with drier parts, interspersed with both small and larger ponds and lakes. Thirty species of waterbirds, including several that are red-listed, have been recorded in the area. Especially in light of drainage of other parts of the catchment, the site plays a very important role in flood control. Human uses are limited to leisure activities, including sport fishing and berry picking. Ramsar site no. 1191.

Karlsøyvær. 06/08/02; Nordland; 5,000 ha; 67°34'N 014°40'E. Nature Reserve.

A marine archipelago with shallow waters dotted with numerous islets and islands, typical of the North European coast, with wet meadows, dunes and dune slacks, and brackish marshes in some parts. The site is one of several important areas along the coast for staging, breeding, moulting and wintering seabirds from large parts of the Arctic coasts, and the numbers of breeding White-tailed Sea Eagle Haliaetus albicilla are noteworthy. Plans are being made to reactivate the traditional practice of collecting seagull eggs and eider down, advantageous to local breeding populations of seabirds through building of eider-houses and lowering of predation levels. Ramsar site no. 1192.

Kvisleflået. 06/08/02; Hedmark; 3,300 ha; 61°48'N 012°05'E. Nature Reserve

A large, flat-mire landscape, with large deposits of moraine, which creates a mosaic of dry and wet areas interspersed with ponds and lakes - a transboundary protected site with Sweden. Several rare species, including Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica, Crane Grus grus, Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus, and Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minumus, breed in the area. The site is important for flood control in an area where many similar sites have been altered and more severe flooding episodes have been recorded in recent years. Forestry is among the main sources of income in the area, and the site itself is used for low-impact hunting activities, with some berry picking as well. Ramsar site no. 1193.

Øvre Forra. 06/08/02; Nord-Trøndelag; 10,800 ha; 63°37'N 011°35'E; Nature Reserve.

A huge intact peat mire system at higher elevation, partly forested with notably Picea abies, interspersed with several smaller lakes and a meandering river. The landscape is undulating and mires also exist on sloping terrain (due to high precipitation); some smaller peaks and areas with drier vegetation also exist. The site supports a number of rare or threatened breeding bird species, especially Great Snipe Gallinago media, as well as the threatened Otter Lutra lutra and the rare orchids Coeloglossum viride and Hammarbya paludosa, among 328 species of vascular plants. Forestry is among the main sources of income in the area but does not affect the site directly, which is lightly used for hunting, fishing, trekking, canoeing and skiing, and some berry picking. Iron melting sites from one to two thousand years old have been uncovered. Ramsar site no. 1194.

Skogvoll. 06/08/02; Nordland; 5,500 ha; 68°58'N 015°55'E. Nature Reserve.

The mire area is one of the most extensive lowland Atlantic mire complexes in Norway, dotted with numerous ponds and lakes. The other half of the area consists of shallow marine waters, with islets and skerries, tidal zones and a rare lagoon system with brackish and fresh water. Wet salt-influenced meadows fringe the shorelines. The marine part of the site is important for staging migratory birds, particularly Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus. The system of brackish lagoons with freshwater flora (Hippuris, Potamogeton) in the tidal zones has been noted by botanists as very rare. Human impact upon the site is very low. Ramsar site no. 1195.

Slettnes. 06/08/02; Finnmark; 1,200 ha; 71°05'N 028°13'E. Nature Reserve.

Coastal meadow with mires and numerous ponds and lakes on the arctic shores of northernmost Norway. A number of "fossil" and elevated shorelines (several kilometers long) characterize the landscape. Some bird species occur in unusually high densities, with for example colonies of some 170 pairs of Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus. Since the site has recently been connected to the mainland by a new road, easier access for tourists and birdwatchers may cause some disturbance for the breeding birds, but birdwatching, sport fishing, and berry picking continue at a low level. Ramsar site no. 1196.

Tanamunningen. 06/08/02; Finnmark; 3,360 ha; 070°30'N 028°25'E. Nature Reserve

The Tana is one of the largest rivers in Norway and the most important for wild salmon Salmo salar. The mouth of the river to the sea has created a shallow estuary, partly brackish, and huge underwater deposits of gravel. Some sandy islands are situated in the middle of the site. An unspoilt river estuary of this size is rare in Europe. The site is particularly important for Goosander Mergus merganser, with up to 13.5% of the Northwest/Central European population. The Tana is extemely important for the local Sami culture, both as a traditional means of transport and as a source of salmon. Human impacts are low, but an increase in ship traffic nearby for a planned quarry will be watched. Ramsar site no. 1197.

Trondheimfiord wetland system. 06/08/02; Sør- and Nord-Trøndelag; 670 ha; 63°34'N 010°51'E. Nature Reserves.

Four separate wetland units - Eidsbotn, Gaulosen, Ørin, and Rinnleiret - consisting of sheltered tidal marine areas and two river estuaries, important for migratory birds, in particular ducks and waders. The site includes the Gaula, one of the very few unspoilt large-river estuaries in southern Norway, and provides immense flood control functions. The site is used by tourists and residents for walking, fishing, and birdwatching. Ramsar site no. 1198.

Tufsingdelta. 06/08/02; Hedmark; 920 ha; 62°12'N 011°49'E. Nature Reserve.

Wetland with mires and the river Tufsinga's delta into Lake Femund, with a very high number of wetland types, including mires, flowing watercourses, lakes and ponds, and shrub/gallery forests. The formation of mires into the lake through overgrowing of ponds is considered to be remarkable. Areas of impenetrable floating mires exist both on land and in the lake. Human uses includes sport fishing and canoe-paddling, but habitation levels and human impacts are very low. Ramsar site no. 1199.

Extension of Jæren site, from 400 to 3,256 hecates

Jæren wetland system. 24/07/85; Rogaland; 3,256 ha; 58°50'N 005°34'E. Nature Reserves.

An extension of 18 wetlands units to the existing 4, expanding the 1985 Ramsar site from 400 to 3,256 ha. The system lies in an agriculture-dominated area of southwestern Norway with formerly extensive wetlands - coastal sites remain largely intact, but freshwater sites have been drained on a large scale. Marine areas are dominated by sand, mud, pebble, and stone shores, with large areas of dune systems. Freshwater areas are characterized by shallow water and extensive stands of Phragmites communis, and three smaller mire systems have also been included in the site. The newly-extended site is said to be incomparably the single most important area for wetland-related birds in Norway, especially as a staging and wintering area. Given strong agriculture influences and high levels of nitrogen pollution in the area, the importance of the remaining wetlands in the lowland is extraordinarily high in terms of their function as sediment traps and in water purification. Along the shorelines one can find the densest collection of archaeological sites in Norway, with grave mounds dating back a thousand years or more. Action plans to decrease agricultural runoff are showing promise, and buffer zones are being contemplated. Tourism (walking, sunbathing, birdwatching) is fairly heavy in the area. Ramsar site no. 309.