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Walking Interviews in Nordhordland Biosphere Reserve

December 2022

During October and November, the Norwegian team conducted walking interviews all over Nordhordland Biosphere Reserve. The area is huge (land and sea areas add up to 6 698 km2!), and the landscapes stretches from the west coast with its fjords and islands with coastal heathlands through agricultural lands and spruce forests to the east with steep slopes and alpine mountain areas. When Nordhordland first applied to become a BR, it consisted of 11 municipalities, but this number has since been reduced to nine after some of them merged. Still, the Norwegian team wanted to conduct one walking interview in each of the original 11 municipalities, to cover as much of the BR as possible.

With the help from our partners in the BR, the team has been fortunate enough to go on walks and interview a variety of local people: from members of history and cultural groups to farmers, museum hosts and even a landscape photographer – all keen to share what is special about the landscapes they take us to. No matter the place or landscape type, citizens of Nordhordland are keen to preserve cultural landscapes in the region. Reduced farming activities and less grazing – especially in the outfields – is a big concern for many, as landscapes in several areas are now regrowing. Many also see wind turbine constructions and expansion of cabin areas as big threats.

All interviewees point to tangible heritage that has shaped the landscapes of Nordhordland – like old dry stone walls and summer farms, and generally the way people had to build on and utilize every nook and cranny in hilly terrains. But with these tangible heritages comes a lot of intangible ones – the knowledge and skills that lay behind these must also be not only preserved, but maybe even revitalized. Managed coastal heathlands are an important type of cultural landscape in the coastal areas of the BR, but how does one burn and manage them properly to keep them that way?

Currently, the group is carrying on with conducting interviews digitally over Teams and phone, and there are many hours of sound recordings to sieve through. It will be very interesting to start analyzing these data in 2023.

By Silje Andrea Hjortland Östman

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