Terraced landscapes in Norway

    What is the used name in your country?
    How/why/by, whom was it created?

    Research: NIBIO, Sebastian Eiter, Oskar Puschmann et al; upload: Bénédicte Gaillard. The entries are still in process, the e-atlas is still under development


    Terraces have been a very common feature in parts of the Norwegian agricultural landscape for centuries. The general Norwegian term for terrace is terrasse. However, the term is not only used for intentionally created terraces, but also for terraces that have ‘appeared’ through long-term tillage, namely ploughing along slopes, which has resulted in erosion in the upper and accumulation (åkerreiner) in the lower part of arable fields. This type of terrace appearance is considered to be as old as the introduction of the related tools into farming practice. Its effect has often been tried to be counteracted through manual transport of soil from the lower back to the upper part of the farmland, unless the different parts of the land had different owners

    Terraced farmland used as pasture at Rygnestad, South-Norway (Photo: O.Puschmann / NIBIO)

    Terraced farmland used as pasture at Rygnestad, South-Norway (Photo: O.Puschmann / NIBIO)

    Abandoned farmland terraces at Geiranger, West-Norway (Photo: O.Puschmann / NIBIO)

    Abandoned farmland terraces at Geiranger, West-Norway (Photo: O.Puschmann / NIBIO)


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    Is it combined with/connected to something typical (traditional)?

    Constructed terraces are usually defined and talked about from the perspective of the stone walls that have been set up to create them: bakkemurer, terrassemurer, in local dialect also, for example, åkerlad or bakkelad. Terraces have been built on arable land, meadows and pasture , to prevent farmland from downhill erosion and to increase its usability through flattening. At the same time terrace walls were a way of using stones that had been cleared from the farmland. Terraces are common on farms at steeper slopes, for example in fjord valleys of Western and Central Norway and in upper valleys of eastern Norway, whereas they are basically absent below the upper limit of marine deposits in Eastern Norway. Many terrace walls are considered to be built after the reformation of 1537, which means they are not automatically protected as cultural heritage by law. The construction period was probably finished by the mid-20th century at the latest, i.e. right before larger-scale mechanization or industrialisation of agriculture. As terraces are relatively small and not suitable for farming with larger machinery, basically all terraced farmland is now used as pasture or abandoned. Terrace walls are recognized as part of the agricultural landscape heritage, and financial support to maintenance work has become part of several regional agri-environmental subsidy schemes.