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Preserving traditional farming through cooperative systems in Røros (Norway)

A farming cooperative system conserves the agricultural landscape around the historic town of Røros and promotes sustainable tourism. 

About Røros Mining Town and the Circumference

The Røros Mining Town was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1980 under criteria (iii), (iv) and (v). In 2010 the site was extended to comprise Røros Mining Town and the Circumference, including the town, the agricultural landscapes surrounding the town; the mining areas nearby the town; Femundshytta; a smelter with its associated area; and the Winter Transport Route.

Røros Mining Town and the Circumference is linked to the copper mines, established in the 17th century and exploited for 333 years until 1977. Completely rebuilt after its destruction by Swedish troops in 1678 and 1679, Røros contains approximately 1,500 wooden one- and two-storey houses and a smelting house. Surrounded by a buffer zone, coincident with the area of privileges (the Circumference) granted to the mining enterprise by the Danish-Norwegian Crown (1646), the property illustrates the establishment and flourishing of a lasting culture based on copper mining in a remote region with a harsh climate.

No State of Conservation report was presented to the Committee between 1994 and 2021. The 1994 State of Conservation Report called for a better integration of the cultural heritage dimension in the planning process and local decision-making; to strengthen the division of responsibilities between central and local governments and private owners; and for systematic monitoring as a part of the day-to-day management of the sites, with regular inspections and a coherent maintenance strategy.

Video: A day in UNESCO´S World Heritage town Røros Norway - seen from a drone

Preserving traditional farming through cooperative systems 

The World Heritage property Røros Mining Town and the Circumference in Norway is an example of the strong relationship between the city and its surrounding landscape, sustained by traditional socio-economic systems. Diminished agricultural areas within the property compelled local stakeholders to develop traditional small-scale farming and inclusive tourism products using existing local assets, and backed by national and local policies, funding and support schemes. The well-established spirit of cooperation among local communities has enabled the creation of cooperatives, which have allowed farmers to assign distribution and marketing efforts to their cooperative representatives.

Photo: Trøndelag Reiseliv © Buckethaus, Marius Rua*
Photo: Thomas Rasmus Juell Skaug / Dagbladet *

The cooperatives, known as ‘Rørosmat’, comprise 26 producers representing small and medium-sized enterprises, all of which have fulfilled strict criteria for membership. In 2017, approximately 10% of local employment was directly related to cultural tourism. Factoring in indirect tourism value chains and heritage restoration work, this figure would almost double. Moreover, local gastronomy has become integral to the Røros tourism experience. It has created a successful niche food industry in local, regional and national markets and has strengthened the Røros brand.

© Tom Gustavsen *
© Marius Rua *

Source: Culture for the 2030 Agenda, UNESCO, 2018.

Contribution towards the implementation of the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape

The project is a proposal to preserve the traditional practices that shape the landscape around the historic city and in the Circumference. The project aims to contribute to the implementation of the Historic Urban Landscape approach by:

  • integrate heritage values into a wider framework of sustainable development.
  • considerer heritage values and attributes beyond the historic city.
  • connect the city with its surrounding landscape through traditional economic activities.
  • promote local partnerships and management frameworks for the sustainable conservation of heritage.

Historic Urban Landscape Tools

Civic engagement tools Knowledge and Planning tools

Contribution towards Sustainable Development

If fully implemented in accordance with the described plans, the initiative could contribute towards Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

  • Target 2: the initiative aims to contribute to higher levels of economic productivity through diversification and innovation.
  • Target 8.4: the initiative aims to contribute to global resource efficiency in consumption and production and the separation of economic growth from environmental degradation, by promoting small scale sustainable traditional farming practices.
  • Target 8.9: the initiative aims to promote sustainable tourism which creates jobs and promotes local culture and products, backed by national and local policies, funding and support schemes.

Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.

  • Target 10.2: the initiative aims to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, by creating a cooperative model which distributes economic benefits amongst small-scale farmers.

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

  • Target 11.4: the initiative aims to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage by ensuring its sustainable management and providing a continuity to traditional practices.

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

  • Target 12.2: the initiative aims to contribute to the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources by promoting local, small scale, sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Target 12.3: the initiative aims to reduce global food waste and reduce food losses along production and supply chains by creating a local agricultural cooperative model that provides food to the local visitors and residents. 

Note: the described potential impacts of the projects are only indicative and based on submitted and available information. UNESCO does not endorse the specific initiatives nor ratifies their positive impact.

To learn more

Røros World Heritage Office


Havsjøveien Næringspark, 7374 Røros, Norway

© UNESCO, 2021. Project team: Jyoti Hosagrahar, Alba Zamarbide, Carlota Marijuán Rodríguez.
Cover image: © Thomas Rasmus Juell Skaug / Dagbladet.*
* Images marked with an asterisk do not fall under the CC-BY-SA license and may not be used or reproduced without the prior permission of the copyright holders.

Note: The cases shared in this platform address heritage protection practices in World Heritage sites and beyond. Items being showcased in this website do not entail any type of recognition or inclusion in the World Heritage list or any of its thematic programmes. The practices shared are not assessed in any way by the World Heritage Centre or presented here as model practices nor do they represent complete solutions to heritage management problems. The views expressed by experts and site managers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Heritage Centre. The practices and views shared here are included as a way to provide insights and expand the dialogue on heritage conservation with a view to further urban heritage management practice in general.