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Arctic Svalbard: A Summer Paradise for Birds

Svalbard is one of the world’s great wild places to see birds. Millions of them trek to the archipelago in summer for the abundance of food, and to breed and raise their young in relative safety.

Arctic Breeding Birds Need Our Attention

During the summer, the coastal plain transforms itself from a sub-zero inhospitable place to a vast productive wetland. Millions of migratory birds from all over the world – including waterfowl and shorebirds – return there to breed on the tundra: timing their nesting activities with melting snow and a bountiful flush of insects.

Protecting the World’s Great Bird Nursery

Originally one of four Naval Petroleum Reserves, the NPR-A encompasses 23.5 million acres, including most of western Arctic Alaska. Handed over to the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the 1970s, the NPR-A was also recognized by Congress for its exceptional wildlife values. At that time, the Interior department created so-called Special Areas to be given “maximal protection” when balancing energy activities. Teshekpuk Lake was one such area.

Witnessing Change and Searching for Wilderness: Circumnavigating the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic Circle

In August 2008, I was fortunate enough to join an expedition ship on a circumnavigation of the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic Circle, going as far north as 81⁰N. I was on a personal mission to experience and celebrate this Arctic wilderness. Life on a grand scale in this far away place of rock and ice.…