Smøla archipelago

Year of compilation: 2000

Site description
An archipelago of 5,847 islands, islets and skerries, with large expanses of intervening shallow sea. The main island, Smøla, is a mosaic of open mire and coastal heathland, with many small lakes, streams, ponds and pools, and is cultivated in places. Its coast is dissected by many inlets and bays. This is one of the largest marine wetlands in Norway, and some of the largest continuous mires in the country are also found here.

Key biodiversity
Smøla has one of the highest breeding densities (pairs per hectare of land) of Haliaeetus albicilla in the world. The sea areas are important for wintering divers Gavia, grebes Podiceps and various seaduck. Cygnus cygnus winter in notable numbers (up to 300 birds or more). The area has been an important moulting site for flocks of Anser anser, causing conflicts with the local farmers. The largest colony of Ardea cinerea ever found in Norway was located in the area during the 1970s (200-300 pairs). Some species normally found in the mountains of Norway, or along the coast further north, breed here, e.g. Pluvialis apricaria, Lagopus lagopus and Calcarius lapponicus. Breeding divers (Gavia stellata and, to a lesser extent, G. arctica) are also relatively common.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Current problems include drainage and further cultivation on the largest islands; coastal and marine bird species are very vulnerable to oil pollution. There are plans to build wind-farms in an area where several pairs of Haliaeetus albicilla nest (`Other' threat). Management of Anser anser (by shooting), in order to reduce crop damage, is being evaluated by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research. Protection plans for the area have been prepared by the County Governorate of Møre and Romsdal.

Protected areas
National None International None

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Smøla archipelago. Downloaded from on 15/08/2022.