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Home → December, 2008

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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