Big areas covered with ice
Jostedalsbreen National Park covers an area of 1315 square kilometres between two of the longest fjords in the world, the Sognefjord and the Nordfjord.
Jostedalsbreen is the largest glacier in mainland Europe and covers more than 470 square kilometres.
Several glaciers within the National Park
In addition to Jostedalsbreen, several other smaller glaciers are part of the national park, including Grovabreen, Myklebustbreen and Jostefonni.
The protected area has a total length of more than 60 kilometres, and glacier ice covers about half of the national park area.
There are large differences in temperature and precipitation from the glaciers and down in the valleys. This results in different ecosystems, which in turn yield a rich and varied animal life. There are several rare bird species like the white-backed woodpecker residing in steep valley sides. There are also large populations of deer in the area. Further, large predators like lynx and wolverine are present here. Bears have also wandered in from the east from time to time.
Wild reindeer are found in several places in and around the national park. The areas far east in the national park are part of the national wild reindeer areas of Reinheimen and Breheimen.
The area has a lot to offer bird enthusiasts, so please remember to bring your camera and binoculars. Golden eagles and white-tailed eagles are common sights in the area around Jostedalsbreen, and buzzards and kestrels nest several places in the area.
White-backed woodpecker and bluethroat
Glacier river delta areas and riparian forests that are vital nesting spots for waders or shorebirds are found at several sites in the national park, such as Fåbergstølsgrandane in Jostedalen, the Langedalen valley in Luster, and in Erdalen. In bogs and mires a variety of wetland bird species reside. Several endangered and rare bird species like the white-backed woodpecker are found in the valleys with rich forest biotopes.
Several woodpecker species like the great spotted woodpecker and the lesser spotted woodpecker have their habitats in the hillsides around the glacier. The lush and leafy hillsides are great homes to various songbirds and perching birds. You can both see and hear the beautiful male bluethroat in a willow thicket in the valley towards the glacier if you are lucky.
The vegetation in the national park is characterised by large local climactic diversity due to the significant differences in altitude and the influence of the glaciers. There is also a great range in vegetation from east to west in the area with heat-tolerant plant communities in the lowlands and alpine vegetation in the high-mountain areas.
In front of the glacier termini in the lowlands, pioneer species such as purple saxifrage and mountain chickweed add colour to the otherwise grey landscape. The natural succession of plant life as glaciers retreat is an important purpose behind the protection of the park.
In the valleys you can walk in lush deciduous forests made up of elm, willow, and heat-tolerant plants such as the broad-leaved helleborine and the spring vetchling. Glacier buttercup and other alpine vegetation such as alpine azalea thrive 1500 meters higher up in altitude.
The grey alder is a fast-growing tree in the old cultural landscape. We can also find this species in the riparian forests along with bird cherry, birch, and rowan trees. The riparian forests at the glacial outwash plains are specialized to the changing discharge and shifting channels of the rivers.
Beautiful shapes and colours
Many types of lichen and mushrooms thrive in the national park. You may pick berries and edible mushrooms within the protected area, it’s a fun activity for children as well as grown-ups!
Rhizocarpon geographicum, known as map lichen, is a characteristic species that scientists use to determine how much time has passed since the glaciers retreated from a site. It has a specific growth rate, and by measuring the diameter of map lichen growing on rocks, scientists can calculate how much time has passed since the glacier retreated. The larger the lichen, the more time has passed since the ice melted away.
Management of the protected area
Jostedalsbreen National Park is aimed at protecting a large, varied, and valuable glacial area and its surrounding areas. The protection involves the nature from the lowlands to the highlands, with its plant and animal life and geology in its natural or mostly natural state. The protection also applies to cultural heritage and cultural landscape. The national park shall enable nature experiences through the practice of traditional outdoor life that is independent of technical facilitation.
Jostedalsbreen National Park Management