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Home* News and Stories → East Sval­bard manage­ment plan

East Sval­bard manage­ment plan

The exaspe­ra­ting dis­cus­sion about new regu­la­ti­ons for the eas­tern parts of the Spits­ber­gen archi­pe­la­go (Sval­bard) is con­ti­nuing. Dri­ving for­ce behind the pro­cess is the Nor­we­gi­an direc­to­ra­te for natu­re admi­nis­tra­ti­on (DN), which belongs to the Depart­ment of the Envi­ron­ment in Oslo. Pre­vious pro­po­sals of a new manage­ment plan ela­bo­ra­ted by the DN have even been rejec­ted by the Sys­sel­man­nen, the hig­hest repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of the Nor­we­gi­an government in Spits­ber­gen, as too weak­ly based on argu­ments and too far going in its legal con­se­quen­ces. The revi­sed ver­si­on is soon to be sent to a public hea­ring pro­cess, but the DN has alrea­dy pro­ven that it is not inte­res­ted in the opi­ni­on of third par­ties. Obser­vers say that DN is for­cing an ideo­lo­gi­cal­ly moti­va­ted legal pro­cess without a strong foun­da­ti­on that should be defi­ned as based on know­ledge. Far-reaching restric­tions to public access to major are­as are argued to bene­fit sci­ence and the envi­ron­ment, accord­ing to the DN. Accord­ing to sci­en­tists acti­ve in the area, cur­rent traf­fic pat­terns – which are alrea­dy strict­ly regu­la­ted – do not pose any pro­blems for sci­en­ti­fic work. And as far as the envi­ron­ment is con­cer­ned, DN admit them­sel­ves that traf­fic as it is at pre­sent and as it will be in the future does not pose any envi­ron­men­tal pro­blems that would requi­re princi­pal adjus­t­ments of the cur­rent access sche­me.

The cur­rent pro­po­sal of a future manage­ment plan is based on the ver­si­on worked out by a working group of the Sys­sel­man­nen in late 2011, but the DN wants some of its regu­la­ti­ons shar­per. An enlar­ge­ment of a future “Lågøya bird reser­ve” which would be clo­sed for traf­fic during the bree­ding sea­son to the who­le island of Lågøya is dif­fi­cult to under­stand and exaspe­ra­ting. But more inte­res­ting is the fact that the DN wants to move important admi­nis­tra­ti­ve powers from the Sys­sel­man­nen to the DN in Oslo. If the DN get as they want to, then this will inclu­de the power to “regu­la­te” traf­fic in the eas­tern natu­re reser­ves (almost all of eas­tern Sval­bard), which means the DN could in fact clo­se are­as by decre­te, without any fur­ther legal pro­cess. Addi­tio­nal­ly, the DN wants the power to deci­de on app­li­ca­ti­ons for access to the “sci­en­ti­fic refe­rence are­as”. In con­trast to ear­lier pro­po­sals, the­se are­as are no lon­ger sup­po­sed to be gene­ral­ly clo­sed to all traf­fic, but open for all who have been gran­ted per­mis­si­on which ever­y­bo­dy can app­ly for – so far the theo­ry. As all rele­vant are­as can only be visi­ted with per­mis­si­on issued by the Sys­sel­man­nen any­way, the ques­ti­on for the moti­va­ti­on of the DN for this step is inte­res­ting. It will be safe to assu­me that the DN intends to restrict the per­mit­ting prac­ti­ce drasti­cal­ly, if the app­li­ca­ti­on pro­cess goes through Oslo rather than the Sys­sel­man­nen in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, as it has been so far and would be natu­ral to con­ti­nue. Obser­vers impu­te a cer­tain degree of prac­ti­cal know­ledge of the local rea­li­ty to the Sys­sel­man­nen, some­thing that is more dif­fi­cult to belie­ve in the case of the DN in Oslo, jud­ging from their pro­po­sals.

East Svalbard management plan - East Svalbard

The cur­rent pro­po­sal dis­tin­guis­hes several zones for eas­tern Sval­bard:
 
Zone A: »sci­en­ti­fic refe­rence area«, which should theo­re­ti­cal­ly be open to visit after app­li­ca­ti­on, but will in prac­ti­ce most likely be a no go area for mere mor­tals.
Zone B: No traf­fic during the bree­ding sea­son.
Zone C: Site-spe­ci­fic gui­de­li­nes will app­ly.
Zone D: Local bans on traf­fic at cul­tu­ral heri­ta­ge sites, in for­ce sin­ce 2010.
Zone E: Kong Karls Land, Kong Karls Land (alrea­dy off limits).
Click here for a lar­ger ver­si­on of this map.

Map: Sys­sel­man­nen

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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