The well-known botanist Olav Gjærevoll wrote the following:
Dovrefjell, Sunndalsfjella and Trollheimen have much in common when it comes to biological diversity. These areas not only feature the most diverse range of mountain flora species in Scandinavia, but also serve as setting for a number of species with highly interesting dispersion patterns.
Scientifically, these mountains are important for understanding what happened biologically in Norway during and after the Ice age.
Map for the national park Use Chrome for the interactive map which is covering the Whole Norway.
Together with the Rondane area, Dovrefjell is Europe’s last high mountain area where wild reindeer, glutton, mountain fox, golden eagle, raven and small rodents inhabit the same habitat. The original balance in the mountain ecosystem, however, has been disturbed by humans and modern day encroachment.
The wild reindeer herd represents the last remnants of the original mountain reindeer in Europe. We have therefore an international responsibility for protecting the wild reindeer and preserving its habitat. The mountain fox stock has either disappeared or is danger of disappearing altogether. An effort was made in 2007 to release mountain fox in the area.
There is a sustainable glutton stock, which is making a comeback after having disappeared from the area in the 1970s. The current stock counts a few dozen animals. Our mountain area is the only area west of the Urals where glutton live together with wild mountain reindeer.
The higher-lying areas can be considered as a mountain desert due to very little precipitation, meagre soil and minimal vegetation. Some species are particularly adapted to survive in such harsh conditions. Among these are, for example, the dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) and shorelark (Eremophila alpestris).
There is also a viable musk ox herd in the area, which stays in the national park and within the Hjerkinn artillery range. The musk ox herd counts about 300 animals, but is not directly covered by the protection act.
The local biological resources have been harvested by humans since the Ice Age
Remnants from Stone Age settlements have been uncovered, as have other signs of an ancient hunting culture. Trapping wild reindeer has been taking place for some 5000-6000 years, and across the entire area there are hunting pits, hideouts for archers, overhangs (resting places to spend the night), stone huts and other historical features.
LANDSCAPE AND CLIMATE
The eastern parts of the national park have an annual precipitation rate of only 4-500mm per year, while the western parts have a higher rate. The areas east of the Snøhetta massif have a typical continental climate with relatively warm summers and cold winters. The scope of climate changes is uncertain, but many scientists believe that the timberline may climb up to approx. 1400m above sea level in this area over the next 80 years. This means that trees may come to cover parts of the national park in time. Such a development will cause major changes in local flora and fauna.
There are two types of local rock species. In the west, ancient, Precambrian rock species such as gneiss predominate, and date back about 1,000 million years. There are also areas with mineral-rich sandstone (feldspar) dating back 600 – 700 million years old. The mountains around Snøhetta are composed of this mineral-rich stone species, and interesting minerals can be found in parts of this area. The mountain flora in this area, however, is poor in range of species.
In the east, part of the Caledonian mountain chain fold dominates (the Trondheim field). This rock is strongly folded and has been displaced in terms of site of origin. Here we find rock species such as phyllite and mica schist. Greenstone is a characteristic rock in this field.
After the mountain chain folding, the mountains here reached as high as those in the Himalayas. In later periods, however, they were eroded so that the current mountains are merely the roots of the original mountain chain. The high mountains at Dovrefjell were caused by a new major land lift in the western parts of Scandinavia about 60-70 million years ago (Tertiary period 70-2.5 million years ago). Many of the dominant features in the current landscape were created during this period. This is also the time when the local mountain plateaux with rounded mountain sections were created. It is referred to as the old surface (the paleo surface). V-shaped river valleys carved down into this surface.
The area is significant in that we are able to reconstruct the sequence of events in connection with ancient glacier melting in southern Norway. There are also many fine and varied examples of major land formations carved in the bedrock, a considerable number of which feature either bare rock without deposits or rock with thin or unconnected deposit cover. Avalanche material characterises many sides of hills and valleys, and boulder fields are characteristic of the highest areas.
Amazing possibilities for people who love the great outdoors!
If you are driving down the Drivdalen valley on the E6 highway, you have the national park on both sides. There are many excellent sites suitable to stop and take a look around. All travel must take place in compliance with the following restrictions:
- Traditional rambling activities only.
- Tenting with backpacking tent.
- Picking berries and mushrooms.
- Picking common plants for home use.
- Careful use of wood for campfires.
- Hunting, trapping and angling in accordance with relevant regulations.
Bicycling in the Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park is only permitted on routes specially marked for this purpose on the tour map for the area. Organised travel must have special permission to operate in the national park. The only exception is traditional rambling activity run by tourist associations, schools, nursery schools, non-profit organisations and associations.
Angling possibilities are excellent. Trout is the most common fish species, while Arctic char is found in some lakes. The number of rivers and lakes increases to the west in Lesja, Sunndal and Nesset.
The objective of establishing the Dovrefjell – Sunndalsfjella National Park is the following:
- To preserve a large, contiguous and predominantly virgin mountain region
- To protect a high mountain ecosystem with natural biological diversity
- To secure the preservation of an important part of the habitat of the wild reindeer herd in the Snøhetta and Knutshø areas
- To ensure a wide diversity of ecological habitats
- To protect landscape formations and distinctive geological features
- To preserve cultural monuments.
The general public must have the opportunity to experience nature by being able to enjoy traditional and simple outdoor life with a minimal degree of technical organisation.
- The size of the national park is 1693 km2
- In all, the protection plan for Dovrefjell represents Norway’s largest protection area (4365km2).