Eidfjord Resort - The Environmental Protection Association demanded the withdrawal of the permit

The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association (NMF) demands that the permit granted to Eidfjord Resort for the construction of alpine resorts and ski/hiking trails be immediately invalidated/withdrawn. The decision was made on the wrong/failing basis and must therefore be withdrawn out of consideration for the conservation of the wild reindeer on Hardangervidda.

This demand was sent in a letter on 05/04/2022 from the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association to Local Government and District Minister Bjørn Arild Gram with a copy to the State Administrator in Vestland, Eidfjord Municipality, Hardangervidda Fjellstyre and others.

The case was also discussed by NRK on 7 March 2022 in the article "Here the wild reindeer walk in the planned ski resort"

Here's the thing:

The permission has been granted in due course by then municipal minister Monica Meland, after running over County governor Lars Sponheim's refusal.

On 18 April 1981, Hardangervidda National Park was established. Europe's largest herds of wild reindeer would migrate here, as they have done since time immemorial and Norway has assumed a "special international responsibility" to take care of this stock. Despite this, the wild reindeer have now nevertheless ended up on the ominous red list of threatened animal species.

One thing is beyond doubt: the main cause is human influence.

Wild reindeer resting on winter pasture - Photo: Arnfinn Nilsen

Despite the creation of the national park, the pressure on Hardangervidda as an ecosystem has continued and in many areas increased sharply. The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association (NMF) has seen a "bit by bit" destruction of the magnificent nature Hardangervidda actually is, a human influence that gradually breaks down the fragile ecosystem and a deterioration of the living conditions of the wild reindeer throughout the wild reindeer's habitat.

The wild reindeer's normal method of protection against most things, is to move. In order to find pastures throughout the year, the reindeer's natural behavior is therefore to migrate to new or better grazing areas. Now new infrastructure and increased human activity are closing the old migration routes and the wild reindeer therefore have fewer and fewer opportunities for such migrations.

In principle, the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association wanted (NMF) that all cabin construction should also have been stopped for the sake of wild reindeer conservation, but unfortunately realizes that the project has progressed too far for it to be reversed. The area where Eidfjord Resort plans However, establishing alpine resorts with accompanying skiing and hiking trails, only for people's play/recreation, has not yet been lost.

This is an area that the wild reindeer use regularly, especially in difficult conditions elsewhere on the plain. This is well documented with photos and film - from March 2022 at the latest. It is also necessary to point out that the area in question has been a calving and rearing area in the past and that if the wild reindeer are to be allowed to follow their old migration patterns again, they will need the area to this purpose again. All experience indicates that if the construction machines first enter the area, then the area is lost to the wild reindeer for all time to come. There is no point in "paying attention later". The reindeer will never use the area as before.

Wild reindeer on Hardangervidda in mid-July during the change from winter to summer fur - Photo: Arnfinn Nilsen

The wild reindeer lives very marginally. This means that it takes very little before the wild reindeer are disturbed so that the animals' fitness and reproductive capacity are at the expense. Constant distractions mean that the time spent eating food is reduced. This of course leads to a lower body weight, which in turn makes the reindeer less suitable to withstand the harsh climate.

In addition, the animals' reproductive cycle is often affected so that the calves are born later in the year, and the newborns thus have a significantly shorter grazing season before next winter. The calves then have less time to build up the fat reserves that they are completely dependent on to feed on throughout the winter.

An alpine resort of this size in full operation, with lifts, pedal machines, snowmobiles and thousands of people, will scare an increasingly stressed and malnourished wild reindeer tribe back from a significantly larger area than just the area size of the facility itself. The most serious threat to the wild reindeer in our time is exactly this, i.e. the reduction of the animals' habitats.

The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association (NMF) demands that all reduction of the wild reindeer's habitat be stopped immediately and that Norway does everything to comply with our special international responsibility for the survival of the wild reindeer.

That must no longer be possible to get permission to only take "a tiny bit" of the wild reindeer's area in order to make money on "cottage fields/resorts" or to open "tourist attractions" on beautiful mountain peaks in the marginal zone... It only creates further pressure on the wild reindeer's already very stressed area. (As you know…. lots of little drams, making it hard to walk…. or something like that… : )

On this basis, the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association (NMF) urges the Department of Municipalities and Districts v/Minister of Municipalities and Districts Bjørn Arild Gram to, of its own initiative, immediately invalidate/withdraw the permit.

The reindeer deserve to live and have a future on Hardangervidda! If we humans can't deal with this... then we are the ones on the edge and should get out of there as soon as possible!

Read the letter here:

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