Svalbard Villmarkssenter

Svalbard Villmarkssenter

Svalbard Villmarkssenter is concerned about caring for our living world. Ecophilosophy is about understanding what is good for Earth and for its natural environment. It is about the creation of life, and about how dying leads to a renewal of life. Simplicity and a respect for the resource base on which we depend has long traditions in our country, but now also here this lifestyle is being taken over by an ever-increasing hunger for the consumption of goods and services. Nobody is really to blame for the situation we see today, since it is largely the result of scientific and industrial development. It has, nevertheless, made the maximizing of profits in the shortest possible time the main goal of modern development. We are all part of the race, each in our own way. We are bought and paid for. Everything that can be converted to cash in the pocket is exploited, even natural wilderness itself.

 

That something in this development trend is not right, is not difficult to see if one really looks into the issue and is willing to open one`s eyes to the ultimate ecological consequences of industrialization and the consumer society. To solve these problems we must again learn to cooperate with nature and with each other. This can only happen by us asking ourselves: What contribution – however small can i make towards a transition to a more fair and environmentally friendly society?

If we look back upon the enormous transitions that have taken place in our societies during the last forty years, there is no doubt that large cultural- and attitude changes can be made during short time spans. The question is rather: What forces must be brought into power at this time to ensure the necessary shift in direction for our societies? At the same time we must know how to do, the perhaps new, but necessary things in our daily lives.

 

SVS hopes, and tries, to provide opportunities for gaining new views, new opinions and new attitudes which can be the foundation for a more environmentally conscious behavior. Such ecological thinking is not turning the wheel of time back into a dark past. Technology is to be used, but with concern for life, both on land, in the air, in sea, and the soil. The human history on Svalbard clearly shows what it can lead to if one removes more from the bank than it pays in interest. The decimation of the large baleen whales, the near extinction of the walrus, and the dramatic decline of the polar bear population are grim examples from our recent past.

 

The hunt for, and exploitation of, the natural resources of these islands, has gone on for past 400 years. The biological resources were the easiest to gain access to and were- in a sense – `mined` first. Today`s modern technology makes it possible to exploit mineral, oil and gas reserves in the same way, as witnessed by the current offshore activities in the North Sea.

 

Arctic tourism in today`s form is extremely energy-demanding. Any attempt to establish tourism as business without seeing these realities, is what a British historian once described as “Lack of knowledge and perspective, as well as lacking understanding of vital connections and inter-relationships.”

 

Svalbard`s vulnerable nature is now meant to finance an armada of snow-mobiles, cars, rib boats and other tour boats

This means that it is not only persons on Svalbard that will be living of the tourist industry, but also the producers of the different vehicles all over the world. The unique natural environment of Svalbard will, in other words, have to pay for work forces all over the world. Time will only show if we can care for this amazing oasis of wilderness in such a way that it can carry this burden.

 

SVS strives to stand for a resource-friendly utilization of our natural environment, and we try to take all lifeforms into consideration in our work, from micro-organisms to higher plants and animals.

 

Berit and Karl Våtvik

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