Longyearbyen's Coal Mining Heritage: For Town and for Tourism

This project aims to research the preservation and development of coal mining heritage in Longyearbyen, as part of a wider study of industrial heritage in the Arctic.

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  • field work


  • social sciences
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Project Keywords

  • human dimensions / attitudes,preferences,behavior / recreation
  • human dimensions / infrastructure / cultural features
  • human dimensions / environmental impacts / conservation
  • human dimensions / human settlements / archaeological areas
  • human dimensions / human settlements / coastal areas
  • human dimensions / social behavior / hazard mitigation/planning
  • human dimensions / social behavior / preservation
  • human dimensions / sustainability / sustainable development

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This is a small research project, part-funded by the Scottish Arctic Club. It consists of three parts: (i) attitudes of residents and visitors towards Longyearbyen's coal mining heritage (ii) the insights of heritage professionals regarding the conservation and development of Arctic industrial heritage and Longyearbyen's coal mining heritage in particular (iii) observed conditions of cultural heritage in the Longyearbyen area for risk assessment. Item (i) shall consist of two e-surveys, one designed for tourists and one designed for residents. These are comprised of 10 questions, are anonymous and are designed to take no more than 2 minutes to complete. They shall capture the range of attitudes of tourists and residents towards the link between coal mining and town identity, the preservation of the coal mining heritage as the industry declines, and the exploitation of it for tourism. Item (ii) will consist of interviews with individuals such as experts, those working in heritage or heritage tourism, interest groups and local enthusiasts. These will also be anonymous. The interviews are arranged in 3 sections, with Section 1 discussing at coal mining heritage in Longyearbyen at present, Section 2 looking forward to the future preservation and development of the coal mining heritage in Longyearbyen, and Section 3 opening the topic up to industrial heritage in the wider Arctic region. The interviews will be on the subject of how Longyearbyen’s industrial heritage is represented and developed. It is hoped the data from parts (i) and (ii) will feed into a larger project on Arctic industrial heritage in future. Item (iii) links to a separate purpose but relates to Longyearbyen's mining heritage and results from it will be used in the project. It aims to analyse the risks to coastal cultural heritage in the Longyearbyen area, Svalbard, by combining quantitative modelling with qualitative field data. The primary purpose of this is to demonstrate the application of the Arctic Heritage Coastal Cultural Heritage Vulnerability Index that comprises my MSc in Geographical Information Systems (online distance learning) research thesis. The ACCHVI is based on environmental hazards at locations in Svalbard. This fieldwork involves gathering site specific information on the materials the structures are comprised of and their current condition to evaluate the model as a practical tool. The data gathering will consist of rapid field assessment of heritage assets in the Longyearbyen vicinity, during which the current state and condition of the heritage assets will be investigated, based on visual inspection. The following information will be gathered in the survey: (1) Precise location (2) Current condition (3) Materials comprised of (4) Perceived stability and trend of any existing damage (5) Further damage likely to occur as a result of the main threats in the index (6) Any other threats not included in the index that can be identified at the site (7) Any additional information, e.g. significance of the site When the qualitative data has been gathered, relevant information will be quantified, so the data can be integrated into the GIS model and the cultural heritage assets assigned risk classes. The output will identify the heritage assets at greatest risk that might be considered priorities for preservation.

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