The Geirangerfjord World Heritage Foundation has a large and diverse task on its hands, including education and competence development designed to protect and preserve the natural heritage, and acting as a driving force for sustainable development. We seek to demonstrate environmentally friendly travel options; disseminate knowledge about the area and showcase its attributes to local and international visitors; provide an arena for site-specific academic research; and set framework conditions for various governing bodies.
The Geirangerfjord World Heritage Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established by Norddal and Stranda local authorities in partnership with Møre og Romsdal county authority. The Foundation’s headquarters are at the Norwegian Fjord Centre in Geiranger.
The Norwegian Fjord Centre is an accredited visitor and education centre for the World Heritage Site and provides an arena for the Geirangerfjord World Heritage Foundation to showcase the various aspects of their work. We are open all year.
Fjordheim – imaginative learning for children
We want to play a part in giving children and young people the best possible basis for looking after the World Heritage in the future. We seek to do this by involving them in various projects, and by offering our excellent toolboxes to local nurseries and schools to facilitate learning about our nature and culture.
Our ‘Fjordheim’ children’s project makes use of humour, imagination and facts. The kids get to meet Georgie Gneiss, Gloria Glimmer, Mother Mantel, Peggy Plastic and all the other creatures of the Fjordheim universe. Each of them has an exciting story to tell about the formation of the landscape, the threats to nature, and how nature can be protected.
We use the Fjordheim concept in exhibitions, educational programmes, stage plays, game designs and activities. The possibilities are limited only by our imagination.
Nature and culture go hand in hand
The cultural landscape enhances the conservation value of our area. Re-forestation is one of the greatest threats to the cultural landscape within the World Heritage Site. Protecting and developing the diversity of the cultural landscape, and the qualities associated with experiencing the landscape, have been the most important issues that the West Norwegian Fjords have championed. Local farms, organisations and individuals receive funding for their work to tend the land, such as hay-making, grazing and clearing. But we are still working to strengthen the farming industry within the World Heritage Site and in adjacent villages.
Facilitating access to the great outdoors
The World Heritage is best explained on site. When you see and experience things for yourself, it is easier to understand the workings of the delicate interactions that take place within the World Heritage area.
We are responsible for clearing, marking and signposting footpaths, and in many locations we have erected information panels about walks in the area. You will find a list of graded walks on the walks portal www.morotur.no. Our village walks maps also provide great route suggestions, as do the walks maps produced by the local authorities, and the hiking reference book Opptur Geirangerfjorden. Some of the walks facilitate easy access for most people.
We also disseminate information about safe and considerate travel.
Working together makes us strong
It is important to us that we are on good terms with our local communities, the county administration, and regional and central government agencies. We have a close day-to-day working relationship with the local land management bodies and the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate.
We have a unique partnership with Friends of Storfjord and undertake various administrative jobs for this charitable association that has restored many of the old fjord and mountainside farms surrounding Storfjord in Sunnmøre. (link til Storfjordens Venner sine sider)
We also support local heritage foundations like Paktarstova, Severinbrauta and Notanaustet, whose work is important for protecting the area’s cultural heritage.
The farming and tourism industries are important partners in our work to protect the World Heritage.
Taking part in the international World Heritage network allows us to learn a lot while reciprocating with our own knowledge. We are keen to share our best experiences with the world around us by actively contributing to the UNESCO network. By doing so, we can achieve our goal of becoming an international environmental beacon.
Through a UNESCO-run programme, we are currently part of a network that involves all of the listed marine heritage areas. This has put us in touch with other world heritage sites that share our challenges, threats and opportunities.
Through this valuable marine network, we have been able to exchange experiences with the Glacier Bay fjord landscape in Alaska on how to best manage cruise tourism, run educational programmes and develop local growth.
Research and development
Understanding is based on knowledge. The natural landscape itself forms an important part of our educational work but it is also important to build new knowledge about the world heritage and the factors that impact on it.
We have established a long-term collaborative partnership with the University of Bonn to measure the quality of the air in Geiranger. This research project seeks to establish how the air quality is affected by tourism at the head of the Geirangerfjord.
We receive annual air quality reports that confirm conditions in the World Heritage village. The project has uncovered high emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides during parts of the summer season. The results of this research are used by government agencies to introduce measures to reduce emissions to air within the World Heritage area.