Jump to main content


In this research programme, we combine formal environmental monitoring with the knowledge and observations from people of all walks of life who know parts of the Arctic well. By this, we will not miss the most important changes in these remote, but to the world important, environments.

Svalurs logo

Why do we need to capture people’s knowledge of environmental change in Svalbard?

People who live, work or travel in the Arctic experience environmental changes in many different ways. Such experiential knowledge is valuable, yet rarely captured and integrated with environmental monitoring programmes. This is a missed opportunity and prevents us from truly understanding rapid environmental Arctic change.

SVALUR will learn from others and develop ways to combine such experiences with knowledge from formal environmental monitoring. Because such combined knowledge should connect better to people’s lives than knowledge from scientific monitoring alone, our approach ought to help with making decisions how to handle changes in the local environments when and where they arise.

We focus on Svalbard as here most people live and work only for relatively few years. Therefore, it is even more important to learn how to bring together local knowledge and combine it with environmental monitoring, so that an ’environmental memory’ can develop and be used for making decisions how to best manage environmental change locally and beyond.


René van der Wal
Professor of Environmental Citizen Science
Dept. of Ecology, Ulls väg 16, 75651 Uppsala, Sweden
Email: rene.van.der.wal@slu.se

Published: 14 November 2023 - Page editor: katja.fedrowitz@slu.se