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Mountain plants with their beautiful, colourful flowers are common in high altitude areas in Norway. On the coast there are not so many of them. But, here and there one nonetheless finds mountain plants, and this makes some coastal mountainsides a little bit different. Perhaps the growth on these mountainsides gives us a little glimpse of a distant past?
"I am going to prove to you that I am right". That is what the idealist and county doctor Christian Heitmann is supposed to have said in the early 1890s. He sat together with the parish priest, Kullmann, at Heitmann's home in Stord and discussed whether the islands in western Norway could have been forested or not. The priest thought that the area was too barren and weather-beaten for forest to have been able to grow so far out in the sea. But, Heitmann was sure he was right. He challenged the scepticism and set off to work.
On June 2nd, 1992, a big forest fire broke out in Sveio. The fire started southeast of Hopsfjellet. In a strong wind the flames spread quickly northward. Houses on the other side of the highway were threatened, but escaped unscathed. The burned area, which is easily visible about a 5 minute's drive south from the tunnel at the triple- junction, was made into a nature reserve in 1998. The intention was to ensure that the re-establishment of plant- and animal life would take place without disturbance.
One of the biggest black alder forests in the country is in Hystadmarkjo. Along the well prepared trail through the forest you can experience an exceptional nature with an unusual abundance of exuberant plant species. But what has laid the foundation for this richness?