Managing visitor sites in Svalbard: from a precautionary approach towards knowledge-based management
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPolar Research, 31 (18432), 17 10.3402/polar.v31i0.18432
Increased tourism in the Arctic calls for more knowledge to meet management challenges. This paper reviews existing knowledge of the effects of human use on vegetation, fauna and cultural heritage in Svalbard, and it addresses the need for site-specific knowledge for improved management. This paper draws upon scientific studies, knowledge held by management authorities and local people, the Governor's database on visitors and visited sites and our own data from landing sites we visited. There is a certain level of basic knowledge available, allowing us to roughly grade the vulnerability of sites. However, there is a thorough lack of site-specific data related to the management of single locations or groups of similar locations. Future research needs to address specific on-site challenges in the management of visitor sites. Relevant management models and measures are discussed. We contend that a shift away from a blanket application of the precautionary principle and towards a more integrated, site-specific and evidence-based management plan will contribute to more trusted and reliable, and thereby acceptable among stakeholders, decisions in the management of growing tourism activity in Svalbard.