Mountains, glaciers and an island – 6,000 hectares of land on Svalbard seek new owner | Polarjournal
With the sale of the Norwegian public limited company Kulspids, 6,000 hectares of land on Spitsbergen will also change hands. The land in the southwest of Spitsbergen also includes a small part of the Recherche Glacier. Photo: Julia Hager

The Norwegian company Aktieselskabet Kulspids is up for sale for 300 million euros and with it the last privately owned land on Svalbard: 60,000 square kilometers in Recherchefjorden.

“A unique opportunity to acquire the last remaining,privately owned land on Svalbard with significantenvironmental, scientific and economic importance,” says the AS Kulspids brochure.

The land of AS Kulspids, known as Søre Fagerfjord, comprises mountains, glaciers, valleys and the island of Reinholmen, as well as a five-kilometer coastline. It is located in the southwest of the main island of Spitsbergen in Wedel Jarlsberg Land, recognized by the Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920. Arctic foxes, reindeer and various bird species live here and polar bears also occasionally roam the vegetation-rich area. Apart from brief mining attempts, the area was never inhabited by humans.

But it is not only the flora, fauna and geology that make this last privately owned land on Svalbard so attractive. Svalbard’s location in the Arctic Ocean between Norway and the North Pole in particular gives the archipelago great geopolitical significance.

The land of AS Kulspids is located in Wedel Jarlsberg Land in the southwest of Spitsbergen and borders the Recherchefjord (left) and includes plains, mountains, glaciers, valleys and the island of Reinholmen (right). Maps: Norwegian Polar Institute (left), AS Kulspids (right)

“This is the only possibility for a buyer to get a position in the High Arctic and establish a strategic foothold,” Per Kyllingstad, the Norwegian owners’ lawyer, told Bloomberg. “There has been a great interest in the Arctic during the last few years, and that has to do with climate change, because it is opening up possibilities that we have not seen before.”

What this means for the future of the area remains to be seen. In terms of nature conservation, it would certainly be best if the new owner were to aim for conservation instead of considering economic use, e.g. for tourism.

“This is a genuine opportunity for a very rich private individual to make a difference [as an environmentalist, editor’s note],” Will Matthews, who is leading the listing at Knight Frank LLP, told Bloomberg.

Im Verkaufsprospekt von AS Kulspids wird außerdem darauf hingewiesen, dass das Gebiet aufgrund seiner nördlichen Lage ideale Bedingungen für Satellitenkommunikation bietet. Dem Spitzbergen-Vertrag zufolge «steht es Landeigentümern stets frei, für ihre eigenen Zwecke drahtlose Telegrafieanlagen zu errichten und zu nutzen, wobei es ihnen freisteht, mit festen oder beweglichen drahtlosen Stationen für private Zwecke zu kommunizieren,…».

Not everywhere in the 6,000-hectare area is the landscape as barren as in this photo. There are also green valleys that provide food for reindeer. (Photo: Julia Hager)

Eligible buyers are countries that have signed the Svalbard Treaty (almost 50 countries in total, including Russia and China), or their residents or companies based in such a country.

“We are currently speaking with a collection of ultra-high-net-worth individuals from across the globe who each have a passion for conservation and philanthropy,” Will Matthews told Euronews. “We are working hard to find the next custodians of this beautiful land, with the means to take action against the wider environmental factors at play, protecting the diverse flora and fauna that call these 6,000 hectares of land home.”

The starting bid is 300 million euros and, according to Per Kyllingstad, the highest bid will win.

The privately owned company Kulspid was founded in 1910 with the aim of mining asbestos in the area. However, this never came to pass due to a lack of deposits.

Julia Hager, Polar Journal AG

Link to AS Kulspids:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
error: Content is protected !!
Share This