IFLA: Cultural Landscapes Committee

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Norway National Countryside

Cultural Landscape Type: Evolved Continuing   

Project Name: Norway National Plan For The Protection Of Highways, Bridges And Cultural Relics

Project Type: Intervention Project, check type: Construction Projects 
Management/Stewardship/Legal Elements  check type:  Landscape Management Systems,  Laws/Ordinances for Cultural Landscape Protection

Location: The countryside of Norway, Latitude: 59° 56' N / Longitude: 10° 45' E

Cultural Landscape Size (Acres, Hectares, Square Meters): Not reported

Property Owner/Steward: Mixture of Public and Private

Project Funding Source & Budget: Not reported

Relevant Historical Dates: 10th millennium BC to present

Contact: Tore Edvard Bergaust, Professor/Landskapsarkitektur, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning, UMB, box 5003, 1432 Ås, Oslo, Norway; Telephone: 6496 6099   email: tore.edvard.bergaust@umb.no

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Project Description:

The legacy of road development across a nation is an aspect of landscape shaping on a regional scale. The history of Norway is revealed through the system of  transportation access that has evolved over time. This preservation process, developed as a nationwide inventory and protection undertaking, is a rare example of a national approach to an important element of the cultural landscape.

In 1997 the Ministry of Transport and Communications commissioned the Norwegian Public Roads Administration to prepare a national plan for the protection of highways, bridges and cultural relics associated with roads and highways. The work connected with this protection plan forms part of the Administration’s responsibility within the sphere of protection of the environment.

The protection plan is to provide lines along which the national administration of Norway’s cultural relics is to work in the years to come. The principal purpose of the plan is to procure and provide information, and to safeguard, for future generations, information about ancient highways and the environment. The period in question covers the years from about 1537 until today. At the same
time, the work will add to the Administration’s competence with regard to the stewardship of ancient monuments. The intention is to provide all selected, ancient highways with protection by law.

The responsibility for work of a high standard of quality has been assigned to the Directorate of Public Roads consisting of the following units: the Norwegian Road Museum and the Environmental Issues and Planning Department. The work has been carried out under the leadership of the Directorate of Public Roads and a group consisting of leading representatives from the following bodies: the Directorate for Cultural Heritage, the Country’s Department of Culture, the Directorate for Nature Management and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. Regional participation involving project leaders representing the local Norwegian Public Roads Administration was responsible for much of the project organisation.

The work of these bodies is based on sketches of highway history, at national as well as regional and local levels. Over 1,000 ancient monuments have been recorded. The first recommendations were the work of local project groups appointed for this purpose. The local Norwegian Public Roads Administration, represented by the project committees which had been appointed, were responsible for the first selections, while the final decision as to which of these ancient monuments should be included in the national plan lay with the Directorate of Public Roads. Their decisions were based on surveys and inspections of the majority of the ancient monuments selected.

The final selection, forming part of the national plan for the protection of highways, bridges and cultural relics associated with roads and highways, consists of about 350 entries, some being located on their own and others forming part of the highway system. The plan also includes 26 buildings and 104 items of machinery.

The monuments were selected according to the following criteria: they were to possess cultural – historical or architectural values from a national point of view. Those that were selected were thus evaluated before any decision was made. This evaluation was primarily based on their characteristics and their architectural values. Roads and bridges which are protected as ancient monuments today were all evaluated according to the same scale of values which was applied to all the highway relics in question, and those that fulfilled the criteria above.

The selection was based on the following factors:  all relics and environments must in conjunction with one another illustrate significant features of the history of land transport. In other words, if any such individual relic were removed or eradicated, the entire continuity and the collective significance of the protective measures would be grossly damaged. Up to the present day, only very few roads or other technical relics of cultural significance have been protected or regulated for the purposes of protection. In the process of preparing and putting the plan into practice, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration carried out significant work in connection with the administration of the work on the protection of cultural relics and their environment.

Protection by Law
The next step in this connection has been the preparation of plans for protection by law for and/or preservation. For structures and installations that are to be protected according to the special section of the law governing building and planning, which deals with protection and preservation, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration is to prepare proposals for future regulation plans. For structures that, according to the legislation dealing with heritage protection, are to be preserved, all preservation will be based on the work of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. The legislation is effected by The Cultural Heritage Act. According to § 22a Protection of state-owned structures and sites, the Ministry may issue regulations concerning the protection of such structures and sites, etc. as are described in Section 15 that are owned by the State. If the structure or site is sold and is no longer in state ownership, the protection order shall be officially registered.

Plan of Administration
Administration, management, operation and maintenance of the historical highway relics will be the responsibility of the department, which will follow the normal routines and administrative documentation. In addition, a plan of administration has now been prepared for each individual relic. This will contain instructions as to the measures which may possibly be taken, as well as instructions with regard to the maintenance of the highway, bridge or the cultural relic connected with the highway system. These plans are prepared by the local Norwegian Public Roads Administration in collaboration with the Directorate of Public Roads. The Directorate for Cultural Heritage will approve the plans.

Current Status
About 50% of the items will be protected by the Norwegian Cultural Heritage Act. Currently, 16 buildings and 40 bridges are protected by Norwegian Cultural Heritage Act § 22a. On 16 April, the highways will have the same protection, by the signature of the Director of Cultural Heritage during a conference that will mark the end of this part of the project.

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. . .deterioration or disappearance of any item of the cultural or natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world.

World Heritage Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 1972