Lyngheisenteret / The Heathland Centre
Lyngheisenteret / The Heathland Centre

Lyngheisenteret / The Heathland Centre

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About us

Did you know that the coastal heathlands of Norway, and Europe, is a manmade landscape with a 5000 year old history?

The coastal heathlands are part of a common European cultural heritage which today is about to disappear. Nearly 90% of the former heathlands have vanished during the past 100 years. Most of the remaining heath­ lands are highly threatened and are rapidly disappear­ ing. The Heathland Centre has been developed in order to keep an area where future generations can experience the heathlands and learn about the traditional use of the coastal resources. However, living cultural landscapes can only be preserved by active management. This is effected by the local farmers in order to pass on the knowledge of this culture inherited from their ancestors. Within the entire area formerly covered by the European heathlands, The Heathland Centre is the only place where heathlands, owned and authentically managed by local farmers, are also organized for public outdoor life, tourism and to provide knowledge for the visitors. This makes The Heathland Centre unique at both national and international scales.

The information building

Most of the activity at The Heathland Centre is organized from the characteristic information building. It is beautifully situated on the transition between the cultivated land and the grass and heather pastures. Although it is modem, the information building demonstrates many features of traditional building techniques of the region, such as a massive stone gable, untreated wooden walls, and grass, wood, and slate covering on the roof. Inside the visitors can find:

• a small restaurant with a peaceful atmosphere, serving coffee, snacks, traditional food and light hot meals

• a teaching/meeting room

• a modem equipped auditorium (70 seats)

• reception area selling souvenirs and printed matter

Information is communicated by:

• an exhibition on the Norwegian and European heathlands: the use of resources, settlement patterns, differences in natural conditions, products of the heathlands

• a documentary film about authentic heathland management

• guided walks in the landscape or on the farms {for groups)

• education for school classes and students

• the sale of information materials {books, brochures, printed guide to the landscape).

Most rooms of the building can be hired for special occasions such as conferences, meetings, or for private functions.

The transfer of knowledge

Much of the knowledge related to the heathlands is of a practical and ecological character, gathered over an unknown number of generations of farming. Today much of this knowledge has vanished from most of Europe. In Norway there are still a few elderly farmers who are familiar with the old management techniques. This knowledge, together with the results from 30 years of research, has enabled The Heathland Centre to provide its visitors with various types of information, including, e.g. environmental changes, cultural history, resource management, coastal culture, and traditional building techniques.

Cooperation with the local community

The Heathland Centre covers almost 2 km². Most of this land is still owned by the local inhabitants of Ytre Lygra. They are also in charge of running the farms and maintaining the landscape, both the cultivated and uncultivated land. The area is not protected by law, but is preserved through long-term cooperative agreements which define the land-use system for each farm. Most of the uncultivated land is heathland, and is maintained by traditional management involving heather burning and all-year-round grazing by the old Norse breed of sheep. In this way the local owners are responsible for the protection of the landscape.

Outdoor life

The landscape at The Heathland Centre is very well suited for family excursions. More than 4 km of idyllic paths provide easy walking. The small bay of Naustvika, close to the information building, is perfect for bathing. A floating quay on the west side makes access from the sea easier. On both sides of the sound towards Lurekalven there are floating landing-stages, and a rowing boat is available for hire to cross the sound.

Where to find The Heathland Centre

Lygra is situated in Lurefjorden 50 km north of Bergen, between Lindås and Radøy. The island can be reached by car and driving to Lygra is an experience in itself. Follow the E39 to Knarvik, and then take the R57 to the beautiful farming village of Seim. Here the saga king Haakon the Good is buried. From Seim the road to The Heathland Centre is clearly marked 'Lyngheisenteret'. At Vollum the road passes through the northernmost beech forest in the world. Takes about 55 min from Bergen. On the return trip we recommend turning off at Vollum and going back via Alversund to Knarvik. The road Seim - Lygra - Alversund has been given official status as "Cultural Landscape Road".

To get to Lygra by boat is an equally enjoyable experience, following the inner sailing route which passes through the narrow sounds into Lurefjorden. It is 20 nautical miles by boat from Bergen. The express boats to Sogn and Nordfjord goes daily from Strandkaien and will stop at The Heathland Centre when requested beforehand. From Bergen the trip takes about 45 minutes.

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Lyngheisenteret / The Heathland Centre

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Lyngheisenteret / The Heathland Centre

Adventure center

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