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Home* News and Stories → Advent­da­len to beco­me natu­re reser­ve

Advent­da­len to beco­me natu­re reser­ve

Advent­da­len – or, to be more pre­ci­ce: its lower part – is to beco­me a natu­re reser­ve. The pro­po­sal is now in the public hea­ring stage, available on the Sysselmester’s web­site. Until 15 Octo­ber, all inte­res­ted par­ties, orga­ni­sa­ti­ons as well as indi­vi­du­al per­sons, can give their input.

The pro­cess is about an area of 62 squa­re kilo­me­t­res, main­ly tun­dra and the wide river­bed.

Nature reserve lower Adventdalen

Lower Advent­da­len is plan­ned to beco­me a natu­re reser­ve.
Map © Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te.

Advent­da­len is one of Spitsbergen’s lar­gest ice-free val­leys with huge tun­dra are­as and wet­lands, that pro­vi­de various habi­tats to a ran­ge of ani­mal and plant spe­ci­es, inclu­ding a num­ber of rare ones. The pro­tec­tion of the­se habi­tats is the pri­ma­ry goal of the legal pro­po­sal.

The cur­rent pro­po­sal would, for most, not include signi­fi­cant chan­ges, and that is pro­ba­b­ly exact­ly its point: to pro­po­se the cur­rent sta­tus quo. New infra­struc­tu­re such as new roads, ways or buil­dings would be impos­si­ble. Exis­ting buil­dings such as huts will enjoy grand­fa­the­ring, inclu­ding the pos­si­bi­li­ty for minor repairs. Mea­su­res to main­tain Isdam­men (the drin­king water lake) shall remain pos­si­ble.

Tundra in Adventdalen

Tun­dra habi­tat in Advent­da­len, here with moun­tain avens in flower.

The pro­po­sal does not include much in terms of rest­ric­tions for tho­se who are on tour in the area, both pri­va­te and gui­ded tours. Most traf­fic is coming in shape of snow mobi­les, obvioul­sy during the win­ter sea­son. Snow mobi­les (and other moto­ri­sed traf­fic) is, alre­a­dy now, only per­mit­ted on fro­zen, snow-cover­ed ground (com­ment: con­trols on this might well be a bit stric­ter). The­se are­as are used by birds only when the snow-melt has advan­ced quite a bit, so both uses, snow mobi­les (and ski­ers, dog sled­ges …) are natu­ral­ly sepa­ra­ted in time, sol­ving con­flicts befo­re they might come up.

Other kind of traf­fic on wheels will not be per­mit­ted on ground that is not snow-cover­ed. This cor­re­sponds lar­ge­ly to today’s regu­la­ti­ons and prac­ti­ce. It might, to some degree, limit the ran­ge of Fat­Bikes which some­ti­mes use dry river beds that are not cover­ed by any vege­ta­ti­on.

Odinshühnchen, Adventdalen

Red-necked phalar­opes in Advent­da­len:
one of the more unu­su­al spe­ci­es that can be found here.

As of today, dogs must be on a lead when out­side. This is plan­ned to beco­me a bit stric­ter in the future, when leads must not be lon­ger than 5 m during the bree­ding sea­son.

Air traf­fic is to be rest­ric­ted: no flights lower than 300 m, no landing, except SAR ser­vices and poli­ce or by spe­cial per­mis­si­on. The ban on fly­ing will include dro­nes in the new natu­re reser­ve.

The legal pro­po­sal is now in the hea­ring stage until 15 Octo­ber 2023. After that, the law text will con­ti­nue its jour­ney through the insti­tu­ti­ons befo­re it even­tual­ly may be tur­ned into valid law.

Com­ment

One may get the impres­si­on that the pro­po­sed sanc­tua­ry / law will not chan­ge a lot. This is inde­ed the case, and this is good: based on the insight that the given sta­tus quo is actual­ly pret­ty good – by far most of the area in ques­ti­on is int­act, lar­ge­ly untouch­ed arc­tic natu­re – the point is exact­ly to pre­ser­ve the sta­tus quo. Acti­vi­ties that do not end­an­ger the given sta­tus shall remain pos­si­ble, even when some who quick­ly come up with strong opi­ni­ons would rather pre­fer com­pre­hen­si­ve bans on all sorts of acti­vi­ties, espe­ci­al­ly various sorts of traf­fic. The­re were not just a few in Lon­gye­ar­by­en who had feared exact­ly that in the upco­ming Lower Advent­da­len natu­re reser­ve, which until now is a very important area for snow mobi­le traf­fic – in the win­ter sea­son, but not during the bree­ding sea­son. Good thing that tho­se who are in char­ge of the law pro­po­sal have rea­li­sed this. The­re is no need to sol­ve pro­blems at the public’s expen­se if they just don’t exist.

Obvious­ly, the­re are kinds of moto­ri­sed traf­fic in Advent­da­len, be it tou­ristic, pri­va­te or of any other sort, which one does not neces­s­a­ri­ly have to be fond of. But it needs more than that to jus­ti­fy far-rea­ching regu­la­ti­ons. Com­pre­hen­si­ve bans on acti­vi­ties that are important for many need to be well-foun­ded. Not liking some­thing is not good enough.

But what may easi­ly put the envi­ron­ment – habi­tat, spe­ci­es diver­si­ty, … – at risk, such as new infra­struc­tu­re and other signi­fi­cant arti­fi­ci­al ter­rain chan­ges, will not be pos­si­ble any­mo­re.

It is good to see that rele­vant insti­tu­ti­ons still today appar­ent­ly are able to have a clo­ser look at the local rea­li­ty to under­stand the real needs of envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, while lis­tening to locals and others, whe­re­ver rele­vant, and not make peo­p­les’ lives dif­fi­cult wit­hout any real reason.

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last modification: 2023-06-28 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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