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The protection of Marka

Marka is extensively used both summer and winter, and has around 300 km of forest roads, 470 km of forest paths and 635 km of prepared ski tracks.

Safeguarding larger green areas by legislation

Oslo is surrounded by a large, mostly forest-covered area called Marka. Since 2009, Marka has been safeguarded by the Marka Act to promote and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, nature experience and sports. Selected areas within Marka have been given a stricter protection as nature reserves or as areas with a particularly high value for outdoor recreation. The City Council aim to protect the eastern part of Marka (Østmarka) as a national park, in collaboration with the state and neighbouring municipalities.

Running in Marka.Running in Marka.

1,700 km2, mainly forested areas, are protected by the Marka Act. 310 km2 are located within Oslo municipality, and this constitutes around two thirds of the municipality’s total area (see map). 

For many people, absence of noise and experience of peace and quiet are prerequisites for outdoor recreation. In this regard, the protection of Marka for recreational purposes can be considered as an action to preserve quiet areas.

Forest management promoting biodiversity and recreational values

Municipally-owned forests account for around 10 % of Marka. The forest areas owned by Oslo municipality are managed sustainably and are certified according to the international environmental management standard ISO 140001. In keeping with goals and guidelines adopted by the City Council, the forest management maintains and enhances biodiversity and outdoor recreation is given priority over economic interests.

The use of Marka for outdoor recreation and other forms of physical activity is extensively and increasing.

Involvement of NGOs

For NGOs concerned with nature conservation and outdoor recreation, the adaption of the Marka Act was a milestone, the outcome of at least 60 years of tireless efforts to safeguard Marka. Today, the outdoor recreation NGOs contribute to the management of Marka partly by signing and marking paths, preparing ski tracks and providing food and accommodation at several cabins in Marka.

Transfer value to other cities

For cities with larger green areas in close proximity, the protection of Marka can serve as an example of how cities can prevent urban sprawl, how forest management can enhance biodiversity and facilitate outdoor recreation, and how municipalities can involve NGOs.