Stølsheimen Protected Landscape is home to vast areas of virtually untouched nature that are important for animals such as wild reindeer. The large wetlands and marshlands are important both as habitat for many species and in terms of climate change. In addition to the natural landscape, the cultural landscape with its many cultural monuments is an important part of the local heritage. Visitors will find trapping sites that were used several thousand years ago to catch wild reindeer, traces of Iron Age soapstone pot production and mountain farms where active farming took place until the last one was closed down in 1972.
Animals and plants
Stølsheimen is an area that receives a lot of rainfall, something which provides a lot of lush vegetation. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of red deer, hare or wild reindeer. You might also hear the characteristic call of the European golden plover or frighten a flock of ptarmigan. Out on the fjord, you could be lucky and see a harbor seal or a harbor porpoise. Red deer can be found throughout the entire area, and they feel at home both in the forests and in the mountains. Moose also visit the area from time to time.
Landscape and geology
The landscape is naturally beautiful and dramatic and hasn’t been influenced by modern technical encroachments. Visitors can experience wide valleys, treeless mountains and a distinctive fjord landscape. Stølsheimen is located in the wettest area of Western Norway.
Throughout the entire protected area, visitors will find traces of the past exploitation of resources in the mountains. There are trapping sites with pitfall traps, traces of soapstone pot production, remnants of cableways, power plants and, not least, the many and sometimes large summer mountain farms (støl) that have given their name to the area. An important part of the cultural history in Stølsheimen lies in all the names and stories connected to places where human activity took place.
The cultural landscape in Stølsheimen has been shaped by traditional farming through generations of grazing, haymaking and harvesting resources. Hayfields, grazing grounds and summer mountain farming areas are important parts of the landscape. Traditional haymaking and grazing in the area are crucial factors in preserving the cultural landscape.
Management and monitoring
Stølsheimen Protected Landscape is managed by a protected area board. Stølsheimen Protected Area Board comprises of politicians from Vestland County Authority and the municipalities that make up the protected area: Vik, Voss, Modalen and Høyanger. The area also includes Vaksdal Municipality, but the municipality does not have a representative on the board. Two administrators of the protected area are employed as the Board Secretariat.
It is the Board’s job to ensure that heritage values are safeguarded. The board processes applications related to the regulations and allocates grants concerning initiatives and measures. The Norwegian Nature Inspectorate oversees conservation regulations and is responsible for monitoring the area.