The Norwegian Reform of Protected Area Management: A Grand Experiment with Delegation of Authority?

Local Environment, Vol 17, No 2, 2012, pp. 203-222

In 2009, the Norwegian Storting (Parliament) decided to embark on a reform of the governance of protected areas. The reform establishes more than 40 local management boards with extensive decision-making authority over much of Norway’s protected areas. The boards have management authority over clusters of national parks, protected landscapes, and nature reserves. The reform was initiated in a situation of considerable conflict regarding protected areas and where the environment to be protected was deemed threatened in over one-third of the cases. This article examines the implementation of the reform and discusses the implications for the balance between local user interests and long-term environmental interests, finding that the reform is likely to reduce conflict levels and increase the weight given to local user interests. Policy measures are suggested for strengthening long-term environmental interests and issues for further research are identified.