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Drawing the boundaries of agricultural land


Rear from the left: Jostein Frydenlund, Roar Nicolaisen, Mari Nystuen, Gisle Buene, Agnieszka Piekarska, Claire Groenink. In front from the left: Svein Lidbom, Kristin Holm, Anja Pangård Ahlstrøm, Natalia Baydakova.

Photo: Erling Fløistad, NIBIO; Ortophoto: © Geovekst

The boundaries of Norwegian agricultural land resources are regularly updated by twelve geodata workers at NIBIO. The work they do is hugely important for both individuals, agricultural management and for national soil preservation.

NIBIO is the responsible authority for Norway’s land resource map for agriculture and forestry (AR5).

In maintaining the AR5 map NIBIO work closely with the municipal agricultural offices. The municipalities update the map continuously, while NIBIO is responsible for periodic updating, which is performed every five to eight years.

It is difficult for the municipalities to keep track of all the changes that take place. In addition, it is very important that a neutral authority has overall responsibility. NIBIO uses the same criteria for the whole country and therefore local preferences and considerations will not affect the map.

There are many reasons why it is important that the map is as accurate as possible. Most importantly, the AR5 map is the basis for controlling the allocation of land subsidies that farmers receive from the authorities. That is why it is critical that the map matches the terrain.

The map is also the basis for national statistics. AR5 makes it possible for us to know that 3.5 per cent, or approx. 1,135,000 hectares, of Norway consists of agricultural land. The total agricultural area has been quite stable for several decades, but AR5 shows that the proportion of pasture is increasing while the proportion of cultivated land is decreasing. 

Finally, the AR5 map is hugely important for soil preservation. The land that is classified as agricultural land in AR5 is protected by the Norwegian Land Act. The Norwegian Land Act states that it is prohibited to use agricultural land for purposes other than agricultural production.

Work is constantly being done to develop effective and safe methods to make the map even better. Updating AR5 is one of the tools society can use to take good care of Norway’s agricultural land.