Hardangervidda

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Hardangervidda National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Hardangervidda.jpg
Hardangervidda landscape
Location Buskerud, Hordaland, and Telemark, Norway
Nearest city Odda, Rjukan
Coordinates 60°3′0″N 7°25′0″E / 60.05000°N 7.41667°E / 60.05000; 7.41667Coordinates: 60°3′0″N 7°25′0″E / 60.05000°N 7.41667°E / 60.05000; 7.41667
Area 3422 km²
Established 1981
Governing body Directorate for Nature Management

Hardangervidda is a mountain plateau ("vidde" in Norwegian) in central southern Norway, covering parts of the counties of Buskerud, Hordaland and Telemark. It is the largest plateau of its kind in Europe, with a cold year-round alpine climate, and one of Norway's largest glaciers, Hardangerjøkulen, is situated here. Much of the plateau is protected as part of Hardangervidda National Park. Hardangervidda is a popular tourist and leisure destination, and it is ideal for many outdoor activities. The region is divided administratively between the counties of Buskerud, Hordaland, and Telemark.

Geography and geology[edit]

The plateau is the largest peneplain (eroded plain) in Europe, covering an area of about 6,500 km2 (2,500 sq mi) at an average elevation of 1,100 m (3,500 ft). The highest point on the plateau is the Sandfloeggi, which reaches a height of 1,721 m (5,646 ft).

The landscape of the Hardangervidda is characterised by barren, treeless moorland interrupted by numerous pools, lakes, rivers and streams. There are significant differences between the west side, which is dominated by rocky terrain and expanses of bare rock, and the east side, which is much flatter and more heavily vegetated. The climate also varies between the two sides: it is considerably wetter on the west side than on the east, with over 1,000 mm per year (39 inches) recorded in some parts.[1] The prominent peak of Hårteigen 1,690 m (5,545 ft) is visible across much of the plateau.

Much of the Hardangervidda's geology is extremely ancient. The rolling fells of the Hardangervidda are the remnants of mountains that were worn down by the action of glaciers during the Ice Ages. The bedrock is mainly of Precambrian and Cambro-Silurian origin.[1]

Hårteigen, a characteristic mountain on Hardangervidda
Hardangervidda landscape
Map lichen on a rock of the Hardangervidda

Flora and fauna[edit]

The whole of the Hardangervidda is above the tree line. Its alpine climate enables the presence of many species of arctic animals and plants further south than anywhere else in Europe. Its wild reindeer herds are among the largest in the world, with some 15,000 animals recorded in 1996 and about 8,000 in 2008. They migrate across the plateau during the year, moving from their winter grazing lands on the east side of the Hardangervidda, where they graze on lichen, to their breeding grounds in the more fertile west of the plateau.

The varying climate of the plateau has a marked effect on the flora, which is richer on the wetter west side than in the drier east; much of the plateau is covered by coarse grasses, mosses (especially sphagnum) and lichens.[1]

Ciclosporin, an immunosuppressant drug widely used in organ transplantation to prevent rejection. was initially isolated from the fungus Tolypocladium inflatum (Beauveria nivea), found in a soil sample obtained in 1969 from Hardangervidda.[2]

In the Holocene climatic optimum (stone age) 9000 – 5000 years ago, the regional climate was warmer, and large parts of Hardangervidda were wooded; pine logs can still be found preserved in bogs well above today's treeline. With the predicted warming, Hardangervidda could again be largely wooded ([1]).

Visitor centres[edit]

The national park has two visitor centres: the Hardangervidda Natursenter (Nature Centre) in Eidfjord, and the Hardangervidda Nasjonalparksenter (National Park Centre) in Tinn (temporarily closed, expected reopening 2010/2011) at Skinnarbu, near the lake Møsvatnet, the town Rjukan and the mountain village Rauland.

Human settlement[edit]

The Hardangervidda has been occupied for thousands of years; several hundred nomadic stone age settlements have been found in the area, most likely related to the migration of the reindeer. Ancient trails cross the plateau, linking western and eastern Norway. One example is the "Nordmannsslepa" linking Eidfjord and Veggli in the Numedal valley with Hol and Uvdal. It is still a key transit route between Oslo and Bergen. The Bergensbanen railway line and the main Highway 7 cross the plateau.

National park[edit]

In 1981, much of the Hardangervidda was designated a national park, Norway's largest at 3,422 km2 (1,321 sq mi). The park's boundaries stretch from Numedal and Uvdal in the east and Røvelseggi and Ullensvang in the west. The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association (DNT) maintains a comprehensive network of huts and paths across the plateau. It is a popular destination for hiking, climbing and fishing, and in winter for cross-country skiing from hut to hut.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Halne Area, Hardangervidda. Use of a High Mountain Area during 5000 Years - An Interdisciplinary Case Study", Dagfinn Moe, Svein Indrelid & Arthur Fasteland, in "The Cultural Landscape: Past, Present and Future", ed. Hilary H. Birks
  2. ^ Svarstad, H; Bugge, HC; Dhillion, SS (2000). "From Norway to Novartis: Cyclosporin from Tolypocladium inflatum in an open access bioprospecting regime". Biodiversity and Conservation 9 (11): 1521–1541. doi:10.1023/A:1008990919682. 
  • "Hardanger Plateau." The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia. 2005.
  • "Hardanger Plateau." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007.

In Culture

. Norwegian music projects Ildjarn and Nidhogg combined their talents to produce two ambient albums, one titled 'Hardangervidda Part I' (2003) and the other 'Hardangervidda Part II' (2003), inspired entirely by this zone.

External links[edit]