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Glomma river basin study

Contact Information

  • Signe Nybø
    Directorate for Nature Management
    Tungasletta 2
    N-7485 Trondheim
  • Odd Terje Sandlund
    Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
    Tungasletta 2
    N-7485 Trondheim

Project Team and Institutions

The pilot study was conducted by Signe Nybø of the Directorate for Nature Management and Odd Terje Sandlund of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research. The scenario project on Østfold was conducted by Bjørn Åge Tømmerås and Hanne Svarstad of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.

The pilot study was funded by the Ministry of Environment of Norway, while the scenario project was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The intended audience for this assessment is national and regional decision-makers.


Conditions and trends were assessed from 1900–2000, with time scales differing among services investigated. The scenarios were projected until 2025. The conditions and trends assessment was completed February 2002, while the scenario project was completed in September 2004.

Project Summary and Results

The pilot study led to a decision to undertake a full-scale study. The pilot study consisted of three main parts: (1) proposals for the focus and organization of a full scale study, (2) a survey of Norway’s natural environment and its ecosystem services, and (3) a case study from the Glomma river basin. Glomma is the largest river in Norway. The pilot study concluded that Norway had both the data and the capacity to undertake the full-scale study; and also that several sectors had an interest in being involved in the process. However, funding for the full-scale study was never secured; reported here are the results of parts 2 and 3.

Survey of Norway’s natural environment and ecosystem services . This part of the pilot study comprises a simplified analysis of the condition of, and trends in, values and services associated with Norway’s natural environment. The study compares the current status with the situation as it was about a hundred years ago. The analyses were conducted individually for each ecosystem. As a result, it was not immediately possible to compare results from the different ecosystems to each other.

Glomma and Lågen River Basins

The Glomma river basin study

The Glomma case study demonstrates how data series from diverse social sectors and activities can be used to analyze the way in which the extraction of products and services from ecosystems simultaneously depends upon, and exerts influence on, the condition of the ecosystems. The demands of one sector for extraction of services can influence the potential for extraction desired by other sectors. The Glomma river basin exemplifies many of the opposing interests, conflicts and necessary compromises faced by those involved in nature management. Some examples are:

  • Infrastructural development leads to the fragmentation of the landscape. There is information to show that this has a negative effect on species such as wild reindeer, but information on the other effects of such fragmentation is largely lacking. In the Glomma river basin, the areas south of the line Trysil—Elverum—Hamar—Gjøvik are today devoid of encroachment-free areas, and in the areas north of this line the encroachment- free areas largely coincide with existing or planned conservation areas.
  • The areas of old-growth forest have diminished, while at the same time the forests contain a larger volume of timber and have a different structure than they had fifty years ago. This management of forest resources aimed at lumber production has probably led to the loss of biological diversity at the species or ecosystem level.
  • Economic and political conditions at national and international levels promote changes in farming methods. Larger areas of uninterrupted fields and fewer field boundaries and groves provide for more efficient food production. Changes in the cultural landscape have consequences for tourism and outdoor pursuits in terms of experience and enjoyment value. The homogenization of the landscape can be detrimental to the tourist industry.
  • Along the coast, conflicts of interest continually arise between the construction of holiday cottages or other infrastructure, and the public’s rights of access to land and sea. This problem also arises along the coast near the mouth of the Glomma.
  • The watercourse today supplies diverse services and products such as hydro-electricity, supply of water to households and irrigation, cleansing of drainage water and recreation. Future conflict between different user interests on the watercourse will probably occur in different combinations in each individual case.


Three scenarios were developed for the Glomma river outlets. The bush encroachment scenario and the urban growth scenario reflect the ways in which current trends along these two paths might play out if they are dominant toward the year 2025. The third scenario provides a contrast in which both of the two sets of trends have been avoided by various political actions. The study was carried out as a cross-disciplinary collaboration based on ecology and sociology.

© 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment