The government of Norway has expanded an existing national park to better protect an archipelago where polar bears can still hunt for their subsistence – and undertaking a clean-up of former coal mining sites.
A total of 2,914 square kilometers have been added to the national park once known as Nordenskiöld Land, now newly named the Van Mijen fjord national park.
“Our goal is for Svalbard [archipelago] to be one of the best-managed wilderness areas in the world,” says minister Sveinung Rotevatn. “That requires us to implement measures to deal with climate changes, and pressure caused by increased traffic. The protection of the Van Mijen fjord and surrounding area is a direct response to this.”
Seven national parks and 23 nature reserves fill up two-thirds of the Svalbard archipelago. The Norwegian government has been working on halting coal mining in the area, with only two operational coal mines remaining as of today.