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Daily Archives: 6. March 2012 − News & Stories


Tou­rism and the arc­tic envi­ron­ment: a pro­blem – real­ly?

Nor­we­gi­an poli­ti­ci­ans and often also the public seem to be con­vin­ced that tou­rists and the arc­tic envi­ron­ment are two things that don’t go tog­e­ther well. Almost as a knee-jerk, the arc­tic envi­ron­ment is descri­bed as “fra­gi­le”. Based on such assump­ti­ons that are lacking docu­men­ta­ti­on, the admi­nis­tra­ti­on is about to intro­du­ce drastic steps such as clo­sing major are­as. Such steps, that don’t even aim at an envi­ron­men­tal bene­fit but are rather to estab­lish lar­ge pri­va­te play­grounds (“refe­rence are­as”) for the admin­stra­ti­on and sci­ence that the admi­nis­tra­ti­on con­si­ders rele­vant, are lar­ge­ly based on the “føre var” prinsip­pet, the pre­cau­tio­na­ry princip­le. Gene­ral­ly a good thing, but less so if strai­ned bey­ond any limit to hide the lack of docu­men­ted know­ledge that should rather be the base for good admi­nis­tra­ti­on.

Such an overs­train of the “pre­cau­tio­na­ry princip­le” due to a lack of docu­men­ted know­ledge as a base for drastic admi­nis­tra­ti­ve steps have in recent years led to ongo­ing con­tro­ver­sal dis­cus­sions and to a decre­a­sing accep­t­ance of the admi­nis­tra­ti­on and thus to a pro­blem of legi­ti­ma­cy.

The Nor­we­gi­an Insti­tu­te for Natu­re Rese­arch (NINA) has iden­ti­fied this as a pro­blem and has now publis­hed a report based on data collec­ted during 3 field sea­sons in Spits­ber­gen (2008-2010) on 30 loca­ti­ons. NINA has obser­ved tou­rist groups, con­duc­ted inter­views with tou­rists and gui­des and asses­sed the vul­nera­bi­li­ty of sites in terms of vege­ta­ti­on, ani­mals, ter­rain and his­to­ri­cal sites. Accord­ing to the report, the gui­des have a key posi­ti­on to influ­ence the beha­viour of tou­rists and their moving pat­terns. The report does not pro­vi­de a con­clu­ding ans­wer to the ques­ti­on if tou­rism is harm­ful to the arc­tic envi­ron­ment, but makes clear that the­re is no simp­le yes or no to this ques­ti­on, and points out the lack of avail­ab­le know­ledge upon which an assess­ment can be made, also as a base for admi­nis­tra­ti­ve steps.

Tou­rists ashore on an island in Lief­defjord: how much dama­ge do they actual­ly do?

Tourism and the arctic environment - Liefdefjord

Source: NINA

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