The West Norwegian Fiords
The West Norwegian Fiord landscape was entered as a site on the UNESCO List in 2005. The World Heritage site comprises two separate areas: The Geiranger Fiord district and Nærøyfiord district. Together they make up an area of 1,227 square kilometres, of which 107 km2 is covered by sea. In the world of natural science these two fiord areas are considered to be classic examples of this typical fiord landscape. With the marked differences in heights and just short distances between the sea and high mountains, the variety of landscape is strikingly apparent. Both areas have been spared from technical or building encroachments. The natural geological processes relating to the formation and development of the fiords have not been affected by human activity.
Together the two sites satisfy the requirements of the convention and they have those qualities which have led to their entry on the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites. In their justification for entry on the list the committee wrote: ‘The West Norwegian Fiords are classic, they represent some of the most outstanding examples of typical fiord landscape in the world. The vastness and pristine quality of the fiords can be favourably compared to the other fiord-sites included on the list and the Norwegian fiords distinguish themselves by their special climatic and geological attributes. The West Norwegian Fiords exhibit many of the rudimentary rock and land formations linked that are linked to the inner districts of the two longest and deepest fiords in the world.
The Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord areas are considered to be among the most beautiful fiord landscapes in the world. Their unique natural appeal comes from the narrow valleys with their steep crystalline mountainsides rising up from 500 m below the water to a height of some 1,400 m above sea level. Innumerable waterfalls cascade down the precipice-like mountainsides forming into numerous rivers that flow through deciduous and evergreen forests and down into the fiord. There is an abundance of other natural phenomena such as, sub-sea glacial deposits of moraine, and marine mammals that enhance the overall experience. There are still old farm settlements, many of them now forsaken but they introduce a cultural dimension to the landscape which adds to and heightens the value of the area.