Protected waterways in the world heritage area

The waterways are important elements of the landscape in the world heritage area. Along the world heritage fjord there are many smaller watercourses that make spectacular cascades and waterfalls. Water and waterways have always been important localisation factors for settlements and travel in the area that is the world heritage area West Norwegian Fjords.

The quaternary geological processes associated with untouched rivers are a central element to the application for world heritage status. After the ice retreated, the free water in rivers, waterfalls and streams shaped the landscape in a quaternary geological context. This area is unique in that it still has entire drainage systems without human intervention, where the erosion and land-shaping processes are continuing in the natural way. The regulations for the protected landscape areas prohibit any intervention that could significantly alter the character of the landscape or nature. Hydroelectricity projects will therefore be subject to very thorough assessment out of public interest considerations related to the protection. In nature reserves new intervention projects are illegal and will be subject to very strict assessment.

In the Geirangerfjord area there are three waterways that are permanently protected against hydroelectric development projects. They are the Norddal waterway and Geiranger river upstream of the Storfossen waterfall, and also parts of the Bygdeelva river as far as Frøysa in Hellesylt.

In the Nærøyfjord area there are six waterways that are permanently protected against hydropower development. They are the Vosso waterways, the Flåm waterways, the Undredal river, Dyrdal river, Nisedal river and Kolar river. The government has proposed that the Nærøydal river should be permanently protected against hydropower development. A management plan has been prepared for the Flåm waterways, which has been adopted as a municipal sector plan (Aurland municipality 2000).