Flashback —Norwegian Landscapes in Retrospect

In 1998, NIBIO established a programme of ground-level photography called "Flashback — Norwegian Landscapes in Retrospect." Over a period of five years, a first-round of photographs were taken at 130 randomly selected 1 x 1 km plots. The plots were located throughout the entire country, but with the criterion that they should contain some agricultural land. These photographs provide a basis for repeat photography, to illustrate how landscapes change over time.

Leknes towards Norangfjorden, Ørsta, Møre og Romsdal. Photo: Axel Lindahl, Norsk folkemuseum /Oskar Puschmann, NIBIO



Norwegian Monitoring Programme for Agricultural Landscapes and the National Forest Inventory

Between 25 and 40 photographs were taken at each plot, and each image was archived with its map coordinates, cardinal direction and the focal length of the lens. This archive now provides approximately 4500 initial photographs for comparison when selected plots are re-visited and photographed again in the future.

New Photographs of Former Landscapes

Since 2002, the Flashback Programme has been supplemented with re-photography of old landscape photographs. The old landscape images have been sourced from different photographers, including both public institutions and private individuals. The exact viewpoint of the photograph has been re-visited and a new photograph taken in the same direction as the old one.

Two photographers in particular inspired repeat photographs throughout the country: Axel Lindahl (photographs dated 1884–1896) and Anders Beer Wilse (photographs dated 1901–1948). The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk folkemuseum) currently holds the rights to use these images and is also NIBIO's main partner in the Flashback Programme.

In addition, many newer NIBIO images are now being photographed again. These photographs are also archived with the date they are taken and the coordinates of their viewpoints. All pairs of photographs, illustrating landscape continuity or changes, are eventually transferred to the archives of the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History. To date, approximately 4000 landscape shots have been re-photographed.

The method of photography used for the Flashback Programme is one of several measures that NIBIO uses to obtain site-specific environmental information. The photographs pairs (or series) are particularly useful for illustrating other types of data and statistics about landscape continuity and changes over time.

Greater Knowledge about Landscape Changes

In line with the European Landscape Convention, our intention is to expand knowledge and awareness about different types of landscape changes. We highlight how a variety of changes in key social domains can be linked to changes in our landscapes. Such changes may be driven by developments in agriculture, urban and suburban areas, transport, trade and industry, changes in population size or composition, and management of outdoor recreation, cultural heritage and natural resources.

The images show changes as they are, regardless of whether they are perceived to be negative or positive. By using the photographs together with information from systematic monitoring programmes (e.g. the Norwegian Monitoring Programme for Agricultural Landscapes and the National Forest Inventory), we can provide information about how common the changes are that we see in the photographs or highlight changes that are representative for particular types of landscape.