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Daily Archives: 10. January 2013 − News & Stories


East Sval­bard manage­ment plan: new pro­po­sal from the Sys­sel­man­nen

The ongo­ing, con­tro­ver­si­al pro­cess of a new manage­ment plan for East Sval­bard seems to reach its final sta­ges, as the Sys­sel­man­nen has on Janu­a­ry 09 publis­hed his latest and most likely final pro­po­sal, which has alrea­dy been sent to the Direc­to­ra­te for Natu­re Admi­nis­tra­ti­on (DN) with the Envi­ron­men­tal Minis­try in Oslo for fur­ther bureau­cra­tic tre­at­ment befo­re it can be tur­ned into valid law by the par­lia­ment.

The assess­ment wit­hin the DN is, howe­ver, anything but for­ma­li­ty: the who­le pro­cess fai­led alrea­dy once years ago, when the Sys­sel­man­nen tur­ned down the ori­gi­nal pro­po­sal from Oslo as too drastic and lacking suf­fi­ci­ent, know­ledge-based foun­da­ti­on. In the fol­lowing, the bureau­cra­cy in Oslo made it clear whe­re the com­pe­ten­cy to shape the new law real­ly is: not in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The same will most likely app­ly to future hand­ling of some of the admi­nis­tra­ti­on of East Sval­bard, some­thing that may be decisi­ve in prac­ti­ce. The Sys­sel­man­nen, who is – as an insti­tu­ti­on – still belie­ved to have his feet on the ground of rea­li­ty at least to some degree, is appar­ent­ly too soft in the eyes of the hard­li­ners in Oslo, who care litt­le about envi­ron­men­tal or sci­en­ti­fic bene­fit of their legis­la­ti­on as long as the public is lar­ge­ly being out of are­as they con­si­der their own play­grounds (in this con­text, it is inte­res­ting to have a look the legis­la­ti­on that is in for­ce on Jan May­en sin­ce 2010).

The cur­rent pro­po­sal is still lar­ge­ly dri­ven by ideo­lo­gy rather than argu­ments see­king for real envi­ron­men­tal or sci­en­ti­fic bene­fits, but at least less dra­ma­tic than older ver­si­ons which frank­ly sug­gested to clo­se the who­le thing most­ly down, except from a few selec­ted loca­ti­ons – still annoy­ing but for most pro­bab­ly not the end of the world, in other words. Accord­ing to the cur­rent pro­po­sal, East Sval­bard is to be divi­ded into 6 dif­fe­rent zones, some covering lar­ge are­as, others smal­ler loca­ti­ons, with dif­fe­rent regu­la­ti­ons for all of them (see map fur­ther down):

Zone A (yel­low): “Sci­en­ti­fic refe­rence are­as”. Anyo­ne who wants to tra­vel the­re needs to noti­fy the Sys­sel­man­nen first, who can requi­re chan­ges of plans or stop them altog­e­ther. Com­ment: the DN is likely to demand this power for them­sel­ves. One can only guess what this would mean in prac­ti­ce for tho­se who wish to tra­vel the­re. The result might as well come clo­se to a com­ple­te clo­sure of the are­as in ques­ti­on, which are lar­ge, alt­hough most­ly (but not com­ple­te­ly) irrele­vant for tou­rism. The sci­en­ti­fic need for and value of such refe­rence are­as is very con­tro­ver­si­al, no solid argu­ments that sup­port such a need or value have been put for­ward, a fact that did not keep DN and other inte­res­ted par­ties from decla­ring that such are­as are necessa­ry. By the way, an obli­ga­ti­on to app­ly for per­mis­si­on to tra­vel in the East Sval­bard Natu­re Reser­ves – which cover the pro­po­sed refe­rence are­as and far more – is alrea­dy in for­ce and has been so for many years. One might won­der what the chan­ge will real­ly be.

Zone B (oran­ge): No admis­si­on bet­ween May 15 and August 15. This means in prac­ti­ce a clo­sure of Lågøya and Tus­enøya­ne for most of the rele­vant sea­son. A simi­lar regu­la­ti­on is alrea­dy in for­ce for the bird reser­ves, but the­se are restric­ted to smal­ler are­as and loca­ti­ons, most­ly the actu­al bree­ding colo­nies on smal­ler islands, rather than lar­ger islands and who­le island groups.

Zone C (green dots): site-spe­ci­fic regu­la­ti­ons are to app­ly. This is a pro­ce­du­re which is get­ting incre­a­singly com­mon for polar tou­rism, for examp­le in Ant­arc­ti­ca.

Zone D (red dots): smal­ler are­as around cul­tu­ral heri­ta­ge sites that are clo­sed com­ple­te­ly year round. In for­ce sin­ce 2010.

Zone E (red): This is Kong Karls Land. No admis­si­on around the year. In for­ce sin­ce many years ago.

East Svalbard management proposal by Sysselmannen, January 09, 2013

Click here for a lar­ger ver­si­on of this map.

It is worth noti­cing that com­pe­ten­ces of the Sys­sel­man­nen to clo­se smal­ler are­as wit­hin the Natu­re Reser­ves for any rea­son are to be moved to the DN in Oslo and widen­ed to the opti­on to clo­se also lar­ger are­as. This implies a dan­ger that the DN can, in prac­ti­ce, still clo­se lar­ge parts of the Natu­re Reser­ves by decree, without any fur­ther legal pro­cess and public dis­cus­sions con­nec­ted to it. It also shows the distrust of the Oslo bureau­cra­cy to the Sys­sel­man­nen, who is often “too kind” in the per­spec­ti­ve from Oslo offices. Others would say the Sys­sel­man­nen has still some idea what is real­ly going on on the ground in Sval­bard. It remains an inte­res­ting ques­ti­on why the Sys­sel­man­nen hims­elf has writ­ten this into his pro­po­sal, rather than lea­ving it up to the DN.

Accord­ing to the cur­rent pro­po­sal, Lågøya is amongst the are­as which will be off limits bet­ween May 15 and August 15.

East Svalbard management plan: New proposal from the Sysselmannen - Purchasneset, Lågøya

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

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