Written by Calum Macintyre, 30.03.2023
We are auctioning this photo in protest at the government's willingness to deprotect Norwegian nature.
Light Lines (a project supported by Northern Playground) is an attempt to illustrate how within a split second we humans can change a wild landscape. When we reach the bottom of the mountain and turn our headlamps off, only tracks are left in the snow. What we are trying to communicate through this art project is that when a politician makes a decision to allow developers to encroach into wild nature - it is destroyed forever more.
That is why on Thursday 30th March we decided to launch an auction of the first print from the Light Lines project, with 100% of the proceeds going towards the groups fighting the E6 motorway through the Lågendeltaet nature reserve. The auction will end on Earth Day, the 22nd of April.
The Lågendeltaet is a nature reserve south of Lillehamer which was protected in 1990 due to the fact that it is an important area of wetland. Wetlands are one of the most endangered types of nature in Norway and it was concluded in a 2021 impact report that the motorway would have a very large impact on biodiversity if it was built through the nature reserve. Not to mention how this would impact the calm and stillness of the area. It is increasingly difficult to find these places where you can experience the calm of being in nature close to cities. We must hold onto the few places that we can still experience this.
In December the government's own environmental directorate declared that the motorway was not critical enough to society and too impactful for it to go ahead. Nevertheless the Norwegian government decided to ignore the recommendation of their own environmental directorate and put forward a proposition to change the protected status of the nature reserve so that the motorway can be built.
The central question we are trying to pose with this auction is - what is nature protection worth? When politicians can simply change the protected status of an area that has been under Norway's strictest form of nature protection for 30 years (a nature reserve), we don't think that it is worth very much. It is a dangerous precedent to set. How can we be sure that the mountains in Norway that we enjoy so much (many of which are protected by National Park status) will stay free from development? We, the people who are out in nature all the time, must show politicians the value of wild nature in and of itself.
Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s climate and environment minister, went to Montreal in December to push through a global deal for nature. The end result of this was him signing a deal that would aim to protect 30% of the world's land. You would think that this would mean when he arrived home, protecting nature would be high up on his list of priorities. It seems not. In February Barth Eide backed calls for the protected status of the Lågendeltaet to be changed so that the motorway could be built.
Our original plan with the first print from Light Lines was to give this as a gift to Espen Barth Eide to thank him for the work he did in Montreal and to inspire him to put Norwegian nature higher up the political agenda in 2023. After he backed calls for the Lågendeltaet to be deprotected we decided there was no way we could give him this gift.
The groups (Lågendeltaets Venner, Natur og Ungdom and Naturvernforbundet) fighting the plans to build the motorway need all the help they can get. There is still a chance to stop these plans at the political level as it goes through Stortinget in the next few months. That is why we have decided to auction off the print we had planned to give Espen and donate all the proceeds to the campaign against the motorway. We must demand that our leaders respect the value of wild nature as it is.
More information on the auction here: www.lightlinesproject.com
Read Calum Macintyre and Vegard Byrkjeland Aasen's letter to Norway's climate minister here. (Norwegian)