Back to nature: Norway converts army firing range into national park at Dovrefjell

DovrefjellPhoto: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB
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In early September, the end of the largest nature restoration in Norwegian history was completed – the incorporation of the old Hjerkinn firing range into the national park in Dovrefjell.

Hjerkinn was the Norwegian Armed Forces’ most important firing range in Southern Norway for more than 80 years, but it will now become a protected area incorporated into the Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park.

Both Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen (H) and Minister of Climate and Environment Sveinung Rotevatn (V) participated in the event’s celebration. 

Bombs and grenades removed

The Norwegian Defence Estates Agency (Forsvarsbygg) carried out the restoration in collaboration with the Armed Forces and the defense sector, environmental experts, contractors, and the authorities.

Roads, buildings, and structures have been removed, and the entire area was cleared of explosives. 

Nearly 5,000 large unexploded bombs and grenades have been removed along with 550 tonnes of scrap metal.

Around 15,000 conscripts have traversed the mountains to participate in the effort in all kinds of weather since the start of the project in 2006.

The Norwegian Society for Nature Conservation: “Unique effort”

A total of 165 square kilometers have been restored. 

A total of 130 square kilometers will now be incorporated into the national park.

“Here, a completely unique effort has been carried out to restore large natural areas. This shows that we can repair destroyed nature,” Arnodd Håpnes of the Nature Conservation Association noted in September.

Once there were kilometers of roads, bomb craters, and ruined nature in the area.

Now, nature has been restored.

“Now the wild reindeer get back important migration routes and increased grazing areas. Mountain foxes and many birds have larger living areas, habitat types have been recreated, and rare species now have more habitats. This is absolutely incredible and very important,” Håpnes said.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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