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Mitigation measures for wild reindeer





Management for Setesdal Vesthei- Ryfylkeheiane
E: sfagpost@statsforvalteren.no



In the period 2007 – 2018, a large GPS-tagging project was carried out on wild reindeer at Setesdal Ryfylke. The primary goal of the project was to gain more knowledge about how wild reindeer use the wild reindeer area throughout the year. An important sub-goal was to improve collaboration and dialogue between actors involved with the wild reindeer mountains. During the second half of the project period, motorized traffic counts and human traffic counts were carried out along selected roads and trails. The results from the GPS tagging project and the traffic surveys are compiled into three reports. They are available here:

The GPS wild reindeer project in Setesdal-Ryfylke. Mitigation measures

Traffic in two focus areas in Setesdal-Ryfylke Wild Reindeer Area. Brokke-Suleskardvegen road and the Blåsjø area

The GPS – tagging project has highlighted areas where there is particular conflict between human activity and wild reindeer, and these locations have been designated focus areas. A brief description of the conflict and proposed mitigating measures are given below:

The Brokke – Suleskard road including Øyulvsbu tourist cabin

The Brokke – Suleskard road is a summer road between Setesdal valley and Sirdal valley. The road is open from 21 May to 31 October. Approximately 70,000 vehicles use the road during this period.
The road also generates a lot of human traffic in the surrounding terrain. In practice, the wild reindeer do not cross the road during the time it is open. Øyuvsbu tourist cabin is located in a wild reindeer migratory corridor and the associated trail network funnels a lot of human traffic northwards and southwards through the hills. The tourist trail from the road down to Øyuvsbu tourist cabin is particularly busy with an average of about 80 passes per day during the peak period of June – September. There are approximately 1500 overnight stays at the tourist cabin during the summer. In addition, there is a large number of day visits.

Measures that can improve conditions for the wild reindeer:

  • Relocation of Øyuvsbu tourist cabin and its associated trail network
  • Reduce the period of time the road is open
  • Remove the guard rail along parts of the road where this complies with traffic safety

Svartvassmagasinet – Steinsbuskardet – Blåsjø

The establishment of Svartvassmagasinet and Blåsjø reservoirs resulted in the loss of important migratory routes for the wild reindeer in Setesdal Ryfylke. From the road into Flatstøldalen valley in Sirdal, the two reservoirs form an almost 50 km long obstacle to east/west wild reindeer migratory routes in the wild reindeer area.

Migration activity has been particularly reduced during the summer months when the reservoirs aren’t frozen, but the bodies of water have also reduced migration activity during the winter. One remaining migratory corridor can be found in the southern part of Ytre Storevatn lake in Svartvassmagasinet. The wild reindeer migrate over the dried up area during periods when the water level is low. Another very important migratory area is located between Ytre Storevatn lake and Storevassdammen at Blåsjø, and further on through Steinbuskardet on the eastern side of Storevassdammen.

The many lakes and steep mountains that are found in the area mean that the wild reindeer migratory route is limited to just a few narrow corridors. Wild reindeer migrating north/south must also pass under two 420 kW power lines. Storsteinen tourist cabin and its associated trail network is also located in the western part of the migratory area. The technical encroachments in the area together with the amount of people using the trail network have strongly affected the east/west migration activity.

In practice, the Steinbuskardet – Storevassdammen area is the last remaining migratory route between the northern and southern parts of the wild reindeer area. Measures that can improve the migration activity through the area will therefore have a very positive effect on the wild reindeer’s use of Setesdal Ryfylke.

Measures that can improve conditions for the wild reindeer:

  • Relocation of Storsteinen tourist cabin and its associated trail network
  • A zone in which hunting is prohibited in order to keep disturbance to a minimum
  • Limit traffic on construction roads

The road to Store Urevatn lake

The construction road to Store Urevatn lake was built in the 1990s when Store Urar was dammed. The road is open to the general public from 1 July until the first snow comes. Traffic counts have shown that approximately 6000 passes occur during this period. Traffic on the road is an obstacle to wild reindeer migration in the area. The road traffic is most likely one of the reasons why fewer animals are able to cross through Steinsbuskardet further southwest in the hills. The regulator in the area has applied to the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate for permission to close the road to the general public. It is likely that a trial scheme will be implemented in the summer of 2022. The guard rail along parts of the road has already been removed so that the wild reindeer are able to migrate more freely through the area.

The Rv9 road north of Hovden

The area north of Hovden has traditionally been an important area for wild reindeer to wander between Setesdal Ryfylke and Setesdal Austhei. Road traffic together with cabin construction and activity associated with the cabin area has meant that the wild reindeer only occasionally move between the areas.

Measures that can improve conditions for the wild reindeer:

  • Avoid new infrastructure and increased disturbance in the remaining migratory corridors.

The E 134 road over Haukelifjell

Haukelifjell and certain sections along the E 134 road have previously been important migration routes for wild reindeer to wander between Setesdal Ryfylke and Hardangervidda Wild Reindeer Area. The amount of traffic on the road and the human activity around Haukeliseter and Vågslid have reduced migration activity in recent years. Currently, it is mainly bulls that migrate over the road, and often over the top of Haukeli tunnel. Due to the CWD situation on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, efforts are being focused on preventing the wild reindeer from migrating between the areas.

Measures that can improve conditions for the wild reindeer:

  • Reducing the amount of human activity that the road generates
  • Build tunnels along long sections of the road as part of the work regarding refurbishment/expansion of the road

Further work on mitigation measures

A lot of knowledge exists regarding what the biggest challenges are, but implementing measures that can improve conditions for the wild reindeer in Setesdal Ryfylke remains to be done. The large reservoirs and the road system are not going anywhere, but there are still a number of smaller measures that can contribute to the wild reindeer using larger parts of the hills than what has been the case in recent years.

The organization of further work on the mitigation measures has been delegated to a steering group that was established 20.10.2021. This group will also serve as an important arena for coordination and collaboration regarding the implementation of measures, and is a natural continuation of the collaboration that started through the GPS – tagging project. Measures and working methods are described in further detail in the NVS – memorandum 12/2021. 

Work on the mitigation measures is closely related to the Quality Norms for Wild Reindeer. In 2016, The Storting decided that a quality norm should developed pursuant to Section 13 of the Nature Diversity Act. The quality norm was adopted as a separate regulation on 23 June 2020. The quality norm established limit values for good, medium and poor quality in each of the wild reindeer areas, based on the sub-norms of population condition, lichen grazing and habitat, and human influence. The first part of the work will be to classify each individual wild reindeer area. Impact analyses and action plans will be made for those areas that do not achieve medium or good quality.

Links to important quality norm documents:

Miljøkvalitetsnorm for villrein. Forslag frå en ekspertgruppe

Forskrift Kvalitetsnorm for villrein

Kartgrunnlag for delnorm 3 (leveområda og menneskeleg aktivitet) i kvalitetsnorm for villrein

Klassifisering etter kvalitetsnorma