Forbundet KYSTEN


Contact: +47 22 42 42 82 ; +47 92 20 48 74
Postal address: Øvre Slottsgate 2B NO-0157 Oslo
Geographic Coverage of NGO’s expertise: Norway


Year of creation: 1979

Safeguarding measures:

- identification, documentation, research (including inventory-making)
- preservation, protection
- promotion, enhancement
- transmission, (non-)formal education

Main areas of work related to the Convention:

The Norwegian Coastal Federation (Forbundet KYSTEN) is made up of 126 local branches that are based all along the Norwegian coast. Its activities are primarily concerned with local traditions and cultural heritage. There are two classes of membership in our organisation: full members and youth members (up to 26 years of age). Most full members are individuals, but our list of full members also includes museums, schools and other associations. Approximately 90 per cent of our membership is accounted for by members of our 126 local branches, which are spread out along the entire coast of Norway. The remaining 10 per cent are direct members of the central federation. The total number of members is 10012. Both the number of local branches and the total membership have increased steadily year-on-year since the federation was established in 1979. The Norwegian Coastal Federation (Forbundet KYSTEN) is a democratic membership organisation. The national congress is the executive body, consisting of delegates from all of the local branches. The national congress elects the national executive. Each of the local branches can send one delegate to the national congress. Decisions are also made at the national congress regarding strategy, action plans and budgets. Our Magazine ”KYSTEN” (”The Coast”) is published with 5 copies per year and goes automatically to all members as well as to a large number of museums, schools, craft producers and others. The local branches are responsible for most of our activities. These are wide and varied in nature, though with an emphasis on maintaining, transferring and developing knowledge and skills within the fields of coastal culture and maritime intangible cultural heritage. Here are some examples: preservation and use of historical boats (from small rowing and sailing boats to historically significant sailing ships and steamers); documentation and recording of both tangible cultural monuments and procedural knowledge about maritime cultural heritage; the practice and passing on of traditional handicrafts and skills such as boatbuilding, sail making, rope making and rope work and textile traditions; antiquarian (both practical and theoretical) knowledge about the restoration, maintenance and construction of vessels and buildings (such as lighthouse stations, harbour buildings, boathouses and historically significant shipyards and boatyards); traditional seamanship and navigation; sailing; rowing; knowledge about coastal waterways and landmarks; songs and musical traditions from the coast; rituals and social gatherings (e.g. when launching and landing boats); the oral storytelling tradition along the coast (both collection and presentation); care and maintenance of old steam-powered engineering; practical knowledge about the operation of larger vessels; rigging of sailing ships; food traditions at sea, etc. Many of these activities are organised as courses in partnership with our own study association (Studieforbundet kultur og tradisjon), in compliance with the regulations and guidelines contained in the Norwegian Act on adult education. This also means that the courses are prepared in accordance with the methods and practice of Nordic adult-education tradition, which emphasises non-formal education, participant-led and democratic access to learning. Our courses emphasise the procedural transfer of action-borne knowledge as their central method. According to the strategy we have adopted, the main objective of the study association is that “it should be possible for everyone living in Norway to become familiar with and learn about cultural expressions and folk traditions in a constructive and secure environment of fellowship”. The organisation has six employees at central level: five who make up the administrative office, based in Oslo, plus the editor of our periodical, KYSTEN. These employees possess specific technical knowledge relating to their areas of responsibility, including history, ethnology, anthropology, journalism and communication. However, the most important technical expertise is found at local level. In many coastal communities, our local branches are the only remaining groups that possess and are passing on knowledge and skills within the field of intangible maritime cultural heritage. The local branches arrange regular trips, expeditions, gatherings and festivals in partnership with the municipalities and other local organisations working to preserve cultural heritage. The central organisation of the Norwegian Coastal Federation arranges regional and national courses, conferences and specialist gatherings, often in partnership with regional and national cultural authorities, experts and craftspeople. The Federation’s national convention, organised as a maritime festival, takes place annually over four days in July. This event gathers together traditional boats and ships from all along the Norwegian coast, as well as visiting vessels from other countries. At the convention, there are technical lectures and seminars, and practitioners of traditional maritime handicrafts meet to exchange information and hold workshops.


The Norwegian Coastal Federation (Forbundet KYSTEN) is an organisation dedicated to the preservation of Norwegian coastal and maritime cultural heritage. Refering to the mission statement from the bylaws in the organisation the main objectives is: Promoting preservation of the general use of traditional vessels, buildings, facilities and the coastal environment in general, conducting informational activities to boost understanding of the value of human and cultural traditions for Norway’s coastal history, maintaining and developing traditions in industry and craftsmanship, seamanship and ways of life, and raising the professional standard of maintenance and safety in the use of vessels and facilities. The motto of the Norwegian Coastal Federation (Forbundet KYSTEN) is “preservation through use”. This means that the focus on the safeguarding programs and activities is the intangible elements of the coastal and maritime cultural heritage The federation Forbundet KYSTEN was founded in 1979. At the end of 2014, the Association have about
10 000 members througout Norway and 126 local branches along the whole coast of Norway. Forbundet KYSTEN is the main voluntary organisation in Norway within the field of preservation of coastal and maritime cultural heritage. The head quarter of the federation is located in Oslo wich give us the possibility to make close contact with politicians at a national level as well as promoting actions and program in collaboration with institutions like the Ministry of culture, associations for adult education, cultural and educational programs for museums, traditional craft associations and educational institutions. The main activities is carried out by our local branches and is based on voluntary work wich is the foundation for almost all the work and activties. The local branches objectives is to preserve local maritime and coastal cultural heritage. They aim to create social network and communities around local maritime heritage. The local organisations work on local and regional assignments in accordance with the Federation’s statutory objectives. The local branches themselves determine their areas of focus, providing this is in accordance with the federation’s mission statement.


The local branches bring together members and active specialists who possess important knowledge and skills relating to local maritime intangible cultural heritage. The activities can be described as learning in local practising communities, with the local tradition bearers and practitioners of traditional handicrafts playing an important role in the transfer of knowledge. Almost all of the local branches include key local tradition bearers and practitioners of traditional handicrafts. Many of the tradition bearers represent traditional knowledge that has been passed down through many generations. In the case of some of the specialised fields, such as boatbuilding, this traditional knowledge may go back as far as 300 or even 500 years. Many of our local branches work together with local coastal and maritime museums around the coast, with members taking an active part in work to preserve their boat collections and buildings. We have developed a collaboration model under which our members take care of the practical knowledge relating to these cultural monuments, with an emphasis on sailing, rowing, active use, communication and knowledge transfer. We now have an opportunity to further develop this collaboration model, as the Norwegian Ministry of Culture has recently given the museums administrative responsibility for the intangible aspects of cultural heritage within their fields. Last year, the Norwegian Coastal Federation and UiT, The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø, took the initiative to develop the “Centre for Outstanding Boatbuilding”. For almost 20 years, the University has employed a traditional boatbuilder, who has worked to pass on traditional knowledge about boats from northern Norway. Now the intention is to set up a centre with national responsibility for transferring traditional knowledge relating to the most important local and regional boat types in Norway. The centre has created affiliations with traditional boatbuilders within the various boatbuilding traditions, and emphasis will be placed on the practice of traditional boatbuilding, as well as the documentation and recording of local handicraft techniques. The University acknowledges the high level of expertise and the complex knowledge represented by traditional boatbuilding.