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Agricultural landscape

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




Stølsheimen verneområdestyre
Statsforvaltaren i Vestland
Njøsavegen 2
6863 Leikanger, Norway
E: sfvlpost@statsforvalteren.no



Active farming

Today, Finden farm is the only farm in the protected landscape that continues to operate. The agricultural operations at Finden farm help to maintain an open landscape.

The agricultural framework conditions have changed drastically in recent decades, and this has meant that many of the farms along the fjord are no longer able to practice their traditional methods and make a profit at the same time. As a result, many of these farms have had to close down. This has meant that the cultural landscape below the tree line has become overgrown. Fortunately, there are still many farms located outside the protected area that send their animals to graze in the protected landscape.

Farm by the fjord.
Farm in the mountain.


Unfertilized hayfields, where the grass is harvested to make hay, are home to a wide range of flowers and insects. These herbaceous hayfields are under threat due to agricultural restructuring. In the past, all small areas were used to produce fodder for the livestock. Today, only the cultivated land closest to the farm is worth harvesting. This land is fertilized and the large biodiversity disappears while many smaller hayfields further from the farms become overgrown with undergrowth and forest. Therefore, it is extremely important to safeguard the remaining herbaceous hayfields. 


Grazing is the most important method of maintaining the cultural landscape, both along the fjord and in the mountains. Grazing livestock on uncultivated land and in the mountains has had, and continues to have a great impact on the landscape. Grazing livestock eat grass, leaves and small trees, and help maintain an open landscape. Grazing also contributes to a greater diversity of flowers in the grazing areas.

Today, grazing animals have disappeared from many mountain farming areas. At Negardstølen, the mountain pastures have been cleared and cut with flail mowers, and sheep have returned to the area.

Pollarded trees

Pollarded trees

In the past, it was common to use leaves as additional fodder for the animals during late winter. The local farms cultivated their own trees for this purpose and were called pollarded trees. These trees were pollarded or pruned every 7 to 10 years. This has given the trees a fairytale-like appearance that characterizes the current cultural landscape. It is important to take care of these trees, both as cultural history and as an experience. Occasionally, leaves are still used as animal fodder today. In the past, leaves were considered important dietary supplements for the animals. It was said that leaves were ‘pure medicine’. Perhaps they were an appetizer in what was normally a rather drab diet?