Coinciding with Norway’s celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Svalbard Treaty and the country’s sovereignty over the 62,700 km2 far north archipelago in 1995, a major threat to the pristine wilderness appeared. A coal company planned to construct the first long-distance road through the archipelago’s largest green tundra area known as Reindalen. The implementation of that plan would have been the first in a series of infrastructure events that would have had extremely negative consequences for the future of Svalbard. And in particular other Svalbard Treaty members could have insisted on their right to follow that example of Norway and build their own roads and produce related damage to nature. This served as the impetus of the formation of a coalition of conservation NGOs (WWF, Friends of the Earth Norway (NNV) and Birdlife Norway (NOF)) and tourism bodies (the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), and later the Dutch “Oceanwide Expeditions” and German “Spitzbergen Tours”). A campaign entitled “No Road trough Svalbard Wilderness!” was started. A four-page folder was produced and people were asked to send a postcard to the Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.
The time was right and the unique coalition produced incredible political weight and results. Approximately 4000 postcards were sent to protest the Svea road and they had an impact on the Norwegian Parliament, the Storting. The first reaction of the Government was to put the road on ice when their white paper on the future of Svalbard was discussed in the Parliament. The Storting then formulated the Norwegian State Goal to make “Svalbard the best-managed Wilderness area in the world” and requested the Government to put in particular Svalbard’s tundra areas, such as Reindalen, under better protection in form of new national parks