About Svalbard and Longyearbyen

Polar Permaculture Solutions is located in Longyearbyen, which is a town on the island Spitsbergen of the Svalbard Archipelago. The polar archipelago of Svalbard is located midway between the North Pole and the mainland of Norway. Currently, it is the northernmost permanently inhabited town in the world. Approximately 2,000 call the town home, making it the largest town in Svalbard. Over 3,000 polar bears share the island with its human inhabitants. The second largest Svalbard settlement is Barentsburg, a Russian mining town that sees most of its activity during the Summer.

Living in Longyearbyen
Mountains in Svalbard

A Unique and Special Place

Svalbard is special in that more than 65 percent of it is park land and is protected. Regulations have been established to protect this island, which means that everything needed by its residents must be flown or shipped to Svalbard (this also means that all waste is flown or shipped away from the island). This places a financial and ecological burden on those who live on the island – bringing everything that’s needed to the island and removing the waste in the same way consumes much fossil fuel, so fuel prices have an impact on the cost of living for the residents of Svalbard. This is one of the top motivating factors for creating sustainable, self-sufficient solutions for those who live on the island. We are working to reduce the need for bringing goods from the mainland and removing waste in the same manner.

Current Industries in Svalbard

The main industries in Svalbard today are mining, tourism, and research. Despite its decline over the past few decades, coal mining is still a major industry in Svalbard. However, the focus is shifting to other industries. The only mining that is still done in Longyearbyen is in Mine 7. This mining currently works to fuel the Longyear Power Station, which is Norway’s only fuel station powered by coal. Whaling and fishing are also still major industries for the archipelago despite seeing a sharp decline over the past century. Many of the residents of Svalbard also depend on tourism to sustain their way of life. Tourism is especially strong from March through August, though tourists come all year round. Activities related to tourism in Svalbard include dog sledding, snow scooter excursions, kayaking, hiking, and touring glacier caves. Efforts have also been made to make the closed settlement of Pyramiden a tourist attraction since it was abandoned in the late 1990s.

People in Svalbard

Research at UNIS

Longyearbyen is also the location of the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), which is a hub for research. The research-based education offered at UNIS is focused on managing the global challenges of the next generation via Arctic science. The research conducted at UNIS involves Arctic biology, Arctic geology, Arctic geophysics, and Arctic technology.

Svalbard and its Magical Sky

Among its many other attributes, Svalbard also provides residents and tourists with a view of the Northern Lights sometimes even appearing at noon during the Polar Night, which lasts for approximately 100 days. During this time, the sun doesn’t rise and what you’ll see outside at 11 AM will be the same as what you see at 11 PM. In the summer, people may enjoy a view of the Midnight Sun, which lasts for about 85 days. This is the opposite of the Polar Night when the Sun doesn’t set. This change is gradual, however, and there are days when day and night interchange, though definitely not like it is in “normal” parts of the world!

Longyearbyen is an amazing place to visit. While the landscape and Polar Night make growing food a challenge, it is not impossible to do. Polar Permaculture Solutions is working to create sustainable solutions in Svalbard that will address modern issues while helping to maintain the integrity of this breathtaking place. If you’d like to come by and visit, let us know! We might also be able to host you.