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FRIPRO-Fri prosjektstøtte

Sounds like Norway: the aural experiences of outdoor life and biodiversity

Alternative title: "Sounds like Norway": de lydlige opplevelsene av friluftsliv og biologisk mangfold

Awarded: NOK 7.4 mill.

Why do people visit nature? The most common answer is 'peace and quiet.' Conservation policy tends to care about the visual features of landscape, but what sounds people hear in nature is just as important. Natural soundscapes (areas mostly free of undesirable noise) improve human wellbeing and influence positive environmental behavior. Imagine a misty day in the mountains - just enough fog to make the view magical, but then sounds from E-6 highway traffic float into the landscape. The fog demonstrates how much sounds are a part of our 'view' of nature - we don't see the traffic, but can clearly hear it, and so our experience of a magical, peaceful or intimate autumn day in the mountains is changed - often negatively. People also behave differently depending on what they hear. More and more, we are learning how much noise can discourage people to care for a place in nature, because it seems already damaged. Positively, natural quiet or the sounds of leaves in trees and a brook can encourage people to be kinder to nature and leave less litter behind. In Norway 2.1 million (40%) are exposed to outdoor noise exceeding 55dBA - increasingly important to have areas of natural quiet. Sounds Like Norway is a project to understand what natural sounds are important for people to hear when out in Norwegian nature, and how much noise is actually present in two national parks known for a wilderness experience. The goal of SLN is to chart how important natural soundscapes are for outdoor life and biodiversity and develop indicators useful for national park planning. SLN will test noise mitigation strategies to improve nature experience without reducing the number of people visiting nature areas, preserving local value creation from tourism. SLN has a large international network of support, collaboration with the Natural Sounds Division, part of the National Park Service in North America. If we know what sounds are important for outdoor life, we can work to protect them.

Many of us experience some surprise when we step off a beaten trail and into a wooded dell. Suddenly, we feel a bit closer to nature: not because we have finally arrived, but because we finally hear. There has been an emphasis in research and conservation policy about the visual features of landscape. Yet, we hear place as much as we see it. The weaving of sounds and perception within place is called the soundscape. Natural soundscapes (areas mostly free of undesirable anthropogenic sounds, i.e. noise) provision human wellbeing and influence positive behavior. Whereas, noise in nature severely degrades experiences connected to outdoor life (i.e.'friluftsliv') and impacts natural values including wildlife. In Norway 2.1 million (40%) are exposed to outdoor noise exceeding 55dBA - a level known to drive adverse health effects- and has serious implications for effective conservation of biodiversity and diverse restorative experiences in national parks. Thus, parks have an increasing importance to harbor natural sounds and areas free of noise. Sounds like Norway is a ground-breaking and co-produced research effort to document and assess natural soundscapes and to deliberate with stakeholders a strategy to effectively manage natural soundscapes as ecosystem services in Norway. SLN will result in understanding what sounds underpin outdoor life, charting the compositions of soundscapes in places intended to support pristine natural experiences, and provide data on problem areas where noise nuisance is apparent. We expect to find that in-tact natural soundscapes in Norway, as has been shown in other contexts, promote human wellbeing and species' flourishing. We hypothesize that when people have access to natural quietude, wellbeing improves as does experience and connection to nature. Natural soundscapes are central to outdoor life, to restoring health, to supporting biodiversity, and-through education and participation in research about sounds-to inspiring stewardship.

Funding scheme:

FRIPRO-Fri prosjektstøtte

Funding Sources