Thursday, July 14, 2005

Norwegian fjords win 'World Heritage' status

About time:

Fjords win 'World Heritage' status

Two of Norway's most scenic fjords have landed on the United Nations' "World Heritage List," which hails sites of special natural or cultural interest. The aim is to preserve them for future generations. Norway already has several cultural sites on the list, including the "Bryggen" wharf in Bergen, the old mining town of Røros and the Urnes Stave Church on the Sognefjord. The Geiranger and Nærøy fjords in western Norway, however, are the first sites in Norway chosen for their natural scenic value. They join such other stunning natural sites as The Grand Canyon in the US, the Great Barrier Reef off Australia and the Galapagos Islands on the list complied by UNESCO. Protection of the UNESCO sites is a top priority, but warning lights are blinking at the Geiranger Fjord. It's a popular site on cruiseship routes, and up to 15,000 tourists can descend on the fjord and its small town on any given day in the summer season. Tour buses, helicopters and cars also add to congestion and noise in the Geiranger area. "I don't think it will be good for Geiranger to get thousands more in the summer," Terje Devold, marketing director for Fjord Norge, told newspaper Aftenposten.. "The challenge is to attract more visitors in the quieter periods of the year." Official inclusion on the UNESCO list came Thursday at a UNESCO conference in South Africa, with Geiranger and Nærøy being classified as "the western Norwegian fjord landscape." Some Norwegian government officials were at the meeting in Durban, to receive the news. The two fjords in particular were chosen for their geology, the history of their creation and their natural landscapes.


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