Sør-Spitsbergen national park

South-Spitsbergen national park covers the southernmost part of the island of Spitsbergen, and contains many of the largest bird colonies in Svalbard.

The peak Hornsundtind

The peak Hornsundtind lies to the north of Sørkapp Land, on the western side of the Samarinbreen glacier. Photo: Jon Aars, Norwegian Polar Institute

A sedated polar bear in Hornsund

This area is an important habitat for the polar bear, which is the reason why some of the Norwegian Polar Institute's research is concentrated here.
  Photo: Jon Aars, Norwegian Polar Institute

Parts of the coastal plains along the western coast are among the most productive land areas in Svalbard, while the eastern coast mostly consists of barren moraines and glacial areas. The inland areas are characterised by large glacial systems and nunataks. Along the western coast one finds the highest and most alpine mountain formations in the national park.

South-Spitsbergen has large concentrations of sea birds and several key areas for the Common Eider and Geese. The exposure towards the central areas of the Barents Sea makes the area a natural location for some of the largest sea bird colonies in Svalbard. The friendlier climate on the coastal plains along the western coast has several plants that prefer this warmer climate.

Hornsund is the dominant fjord with a spectacular alpine landscape, and is an important spring habitat for the Polar Bear. This is also where the Polar Bear wander between Storfjorden and West-Spitsbergen throughout the year. The sea bird reserves Sørkapp, Dunøyane, Isøyane and Olsholmen lie within the national park, which also contain several good rivers for the Arctic Char.

A Polish research station is located in Hornsund, but there is relatively limited traffic within the national park.

Cultural remains

A hunting cabin in Gåshamna

From an early expedition to Gåshamna, the photographer was the Norwegian Arve Staxrud. In the middle Adolf Hoel, the first director of the Norwegian Polar Institute. Sør-Spitsbergen has long been an important part of the human activity in the archipelago, and there are several cultural remains in the area. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

The area has been important for the human activity in Svalbard, and contains several important cultural remains. In Gåshamna whaling stations from the 1600s has been excavated, and in Recherchefjorden there has also been several excavations in cooperation with Russian archeologists.

Remains from winter hunting expeditions, mining, tourism, research and from the Second World War has also been found here.