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Monthly Archives: December 2008 − News & Stories


Motorised traffic banned from Bolterdalen

Motorised traffic may be banned in Bolterdalen after 01 March in the future. Bolterdalen, tributary to Adventdalen east of Longyearbyen, is a frequently used snow mobile route during winter and spring towards, for examplem Sveagruva.

Those who want to promote environmentally sound tourism in Spitsbergen such as dogsledging have demanded larger snow-mobile-free areas for a long time.

Bolterdalen
(hatched).

Motorised traffic banned from Bolterdalen

Source: Sysselmannen

EU funding research in Spitsbergen

The “Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System” (SIAEOS) projekt is designed to understand environment and climate with their components land, sea, ice and atmosphere. EU will fund this project with initially 400 Millionen NOK (ca. 43 million Euro) and subsequently 70 Millionen NOK (almost 8 million Euro) annually. 

Important part of the scientific infrastructure in Spitsbergen: the EISCAT-radar near mine 7 in Adventdalen.

EU funding research in Spitsbergen

Source: UNIS

Closing eastern Svalbard for organized tourism – an ongoing discussion

The plan to close the large nature reserves in eastern Svalbard largely for organized tourism has been mentioned several times on this site (click here and here). The public discussion is going on, as reflected by a number of articles and several letters to the editor of the local newspaper Svalbardposten, a common platform for (public) discussions concerning Spitsbergen. The undemocratical, intransparent procedure is being criticised, as is the fact that the Norwegian Polar Institute – a major political influence in the current process – is at the same time the player with by far the highest level of activities in relevant areas.

Local politicians demand to “discriminate locals positively”.

Another reason for criticism is that the argumentative base for the closure of such large areas are restricted to the “precautionary principle” and the “scientific demand for large, undisturbed reference areas” – a very thin line of argumentation, given that many scientists do not support this demand.
 
The following quotations may shed light on the process:

“Tourism as it is currently managed is not an environmental problem in Svalbard” (Arne Malme, Senior environmental officer, Sysselmannen. October 2008)

“I like strikt rules as long as they are there for others but not for me” (a researcher active in the Arctic, known to the present author. Summer 2008)

The plan is to prohibit landings of organized tourists in eastern Svalbards in all areas except designated places which are marked with green on this map (additionally, local restrictions apply to several of these landing sites). Click here for a larger version of the map.

Closing eastern Svalbard for organized tourism - an ongoing discussion

Sources: Svalbardposten

Natural fluctuations of reindeer: 2008 not a good year in Spitsbergen

It was quite obvious in the field due to many dead reindeer, but now it is “official”, because founded on scientific data: 2008 was not a good year of the Spitsbergen reindeer. During freezing following on a warm spell early in 2008, the tundra was covered with a layer of ice, which made access to food difficult. In April 2008, the animals were on average 21 % less in weight than normal, and only 10 % of the adult females had calves in June.

Strong annual fluctuations of the reindeer population are natural and quite normal in Spitsbergen. The population can quickly recover in good years, although it may become exctinct locally.

Not doing great: Spitsbergen reindeer in De Geerdalen (July 2008).

Natural fluctuations of reindeer: 2008 not a good year in Spitsbergen

Source: Svalbard Science Forum

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