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Allemannsretten and the Great Outdoors

The Scandinavian country of Norway is known for its fierce Viking ancestry, but more recently fishing, hiking and skiing. Outdoor recreation has become a major part of national identity, and is established by law. It seems that the enjoyment of the beautiful landscapes and fresh air have also been preserved and even encouraged for the benefit of all people.

The 'Allemannsretten' law can be translated to 'every man's right' or the 'right to roam' which dates back to ancient times. It allows people to freely roam and camp on all uncultivated land as long as there is a respect for the environment and no discarding of rubbish and general pollution of the area. From 1957 it has also been part of the Outdoor Recreation Act and ensures that everybody get to experience nature, whether forests, mountains or coastal areas, even on larger privately owned areas.

Attributed to its small homogenous population and the emphasis on uncultivated land, in many ways this creates a collective respect within the country and unites a sense of interdependency. The rules hold a simple ethos of being considerate and thoughtful, while leaving the landscape as you would want it. It underlines the 'great outdoors' encouraging more experiential activities such as camping and hiking; even ideas of foraging and deepen the interaction with nature and its other inhabitants

This could be categorised as the polar opposite of the hostile 'anti-traveller' laws that are to be implemented in the UK by autumn. These include the criminalisation of trespass and unauthorised campsites. Despite race inequality and the problems which we currently face, it seems that these proposals aim to marginalise a section of society and a lifestyle that might be considered different yet valuable to our understanding of the world we inhabit.


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