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Daily Archives: 1. July 2021 − News & Stories


Van Mijenfjord: new natio­nal park

It has been a long pro­cess, hence it did not come as a sur­pri­se when the new Van Mijenfjord natio­nal park was estab­lished by law on 18 June. The new natio­nal park includes the nor­t­hern part of Van Keu­len­fjord and adjoins the South Spits­ber­gen Natio­nal­park. As a result, the who­le sou­thern part of the main island of Spits­ber­gen from sou­thern Nor­dens­ki­öld Land (the land area bet­ween Isfjord and Van Mijenfjord) is now pro­tec­ted on natio­nal park level.

national park

Inner Van Mijenfjord in late May: now a natio­nal park.

Suc­ces­sor of the Nor­dens­ki­öld Land natio­nal park

The Van Mijenfjord natio­nal park is the ampli­fied suc­ces­sor of Nor­dens­ki­öld Land natio­nal park which was estab­lished in 2003, but rest­ric­ted to a land area on the north side of Van Mijenfjord. The­re have been chan­ges sin­ce 2003 that have made the adjus­t­ment neces­sa­ry, inclu­ding the lar­ge clean-up of the for­mer mining sett­le­ment of Sveagru­va. Ano­ther aspect that nee­ded pro­per regu­la­ti­on were the regu­lar requests by the Sys­sel­man­nen (now Sys­sel­mes­ter) who asked the public to stay clear of cer­tain sen­si­ti­ve are­as during the late spring and eary sum­mer, but wit­hout a pre­cise defi­ni­ti­on of the area and time inter­val in ques­ti­on and the legal bin­ding­ness, lea­ving room for doubt for tho­se who were ope­ra­ting in the area. This is now regu­la­ted bey­ond any grey zone poten­ti­al. Yet ano­ther aspect is moto­ri­sed traf­fic (snow mobi­les) on fjord ice. Also here, the Sys­sel­man­nen has spo­ken out bans on such traf­fic on a regu­lar basis. Inclu­ding the­se bans which were spo­ken out on an annu­al basis in a per­ma­nent law makes it easier to know what one has to deal with. The details of some of the­se regu­la­ti­ons are of cour­se at least in part con­tro­ver­si­al; the govern­ment has cho­sen a very exten­si­ve and strict approach to the ban on moto­ri­sed traf­fic, some­thing that not all local tour enthu­si­asts in Lon­gye­ar­by­en are hap­py with as the oppor­tu­ni­ties to visit the south part of the main island are now stron­gly rest­ric­ted. It is defi­ni­te­ly important to some peo­p­le, but their num­ber is actual­ly limi­t­ed as even in Lon­gye­ar­by­en the­re are not too many peo­p­le adven­tur­ous (and inte­res­ted) enough to ven­ture on long trips into the­se are­as, far from the com­mon rou­tes. The­re were no snow mobi­le rou­tes of rele­van­ce for tou­rists in the area in ques­ti­on.

Three new bird sanc­tua­ries, snow mobi­le traf­fic stron­gly rest­ric­ted

Van Mijenfjord national park

The new Van Mijenfjord natio­nal park (green boun­da­ry). Yel­low dots: new bird sanc­tua­ries. Red area: moto­ri­sed traf­fic on fjord ice rest­ric­ted (see text). Shaded area: total ban on moto­ri­sed traf­fic on fjord ice.
Map © Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te / Sys­sel­mes­ter på Sval­bard, modi­fied.

Gene­ral­ly, the new Van Mijenfjord natio­nal park law includes the same regu­la­ti­ons that app­ly to all natio­nal parks. Bey­ond the­se, fol­lo­wing rules of prac­ti­cal importance for locals and tou­rists include the fol­lo­wing:

  • Mid­ter­hu­ken, Ehol­men and Maria­hol­men are now bird sanc­tua­ries and it is for­bidden to approach the­se are­as or to move within them from 15 May to 15 August. Click here to access a map that shows the exact loca­ti­ons of the­se new bird sanc­tua­ries.
  • Snow mobi­les and other moto­ri­sed traf­fic on the fjord ice of Van Mijenfjord and Van Keu­len­fjord are now lar­ge­ly rest­ric­ted every sea­son from 01 March. Only regis­tered locals are allo­wed to cross the fjord ice of parts of Van Mijenfjord on the shor­test safe rou­te, while other are­as are now com­ple­te­ly off limits for this kind of traf­fic from 01 March. Click here to access a map that shows the are­as in detail. Non-moto­ri­sed traf­fic (ski, dog sledge) remains legal­ly pos­si­ble within the usu­al legal frame­work.
  • The core area o the for­mer mining sett­le­ment of Sveagru­va is excluded from the natio­nal park. Here, exten­si­ve clean-up works will con­ti­nue for ano­ther while until most of the sett­le­ment is remo­ved.
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