Nissum Fjord is a natural site of international importance which is also rich in cultural history closely linked with the landscape.
Importantly, the site is also the home of the Nissum Fjord Network, a community-based organisation working to establish a nature park as a means to promote local development and tourism.
The fiord itself consists of three basins named Bøvling or Yder Fjord, Mellem Fjord and Felsted Kog and covers a total of 6.500 ha. Together with adjacent meadows and wetlands the area of 10.967 ha has been designated as a Ramsar site, Special Protection Area (EU Birds Directive) and Special Area of Conservation (EU Habitats directive) which together form Natura 2000 site no. 65. This designation is based on the occurrence of 23 bird species, 6 species of plants, fish or mammals and 7 different nature types amongst which there is 5.930 ha of coastal lagoon – a habitat type of special priority in the EU. Of the 23 species of birds, 13 species occur as migratory birds in numbers that are considered of international importance.
The meadows surrounding Nissum Fjord have played an important role in cattle raising and export that formed the financial basis for a number of manor houses in the area such as Nørre Vosborg and Skærum Mølle (Non-geological sites no. N5 and N4), Pallisbjerg, Udstrup, Ulfsund and Rysensteen. Nissum Fjord was also rich in fish and several fishermen earned a living from fishing in the fiord. Today fish stocks have gone down and most of the professional fishermen have gone too. However, quite a few fishermen still catch fish on a lesser scale in boats from the 7 small harbours around the fjord and efforts are being made to monitor and improve fish stocks. Hunting has also traditionally been an important source of food and is still conducted, but these days more as a recreational hobby.
The many reeds growing in the wetlands and shallow waters around the fiord have been harvested for thatching for a very long time and this is still going on. In modern times tourism has increased and is expected to play an important part in the future development of the area. Nissum Fjord is regarded as one of the best localities in Northern Europe for kite surfing and attracts many guests to the area. Over the past 10 years efforts have also been made to establish Nissum Fjord Nature Park and through this community-based initiative improve sustainable tourism and local development.
More than 60 volunteers have joined the Nissum Fjord Network which was started in 2006 with the aim to establish a formal Nature Park in an area of approximately 24.500 ha around Nissum Fjord. Through its activities and cooperation with partners the network has established a hiking route of 70 km as well as biking and car routes with 35 visitor spots around the fjord. A number of recreational facilities with information panels, shelters, drinking water and fireplaces have also been established and guided tours with local guides are being promoted. The network has entered into a formal cooperation with Holstebro and Lemvig municipalities to formally establish Nissum Fjord Nature Park in compliance with the national criteria developed by the Danish Outdoor Council. So far, Nissum Fjord has attained the status of a Pilot Nature Park with the intention of becoming a fully recognised nature park in 2018.
The objectives of the pilot nature park and the proposed geopark are in many ways identical. Common initiatives, which will include training of volunteers, promotion of local products and tourism, as well as the development of information materials and facilities for visitors, are under development.