René van der Wal


Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Planned fieldwork periods on Svalbard:

Planned fieldwork periods are currently not decided because of travel difficulties associated with Covid-19. It is to be hoped that travel will be possible by summer 2021.



Professor of Environmental Citizen Science. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Dept. of Ecology, Ulls väg 16, 75651 Uppsala, Sweden

Understanding Resilience and Long-Term Ecosystem Change in the High Arctic: Narrative-Based Analyses from Svalbard (SVALUR)

René van der Wal, ecologist by training, has a strong interest in society-environment relationships and typically works collaboratively across disciplines – notably the environmental, social and computing sciences – and with those outside academia. For over 20 years has he looking at how Svalbard’s tundra vegetation is shaped by reindeer, geese and wider environmental factors, including a changing climate. Although this should make him a tundra expert, much of his knowledge is based on work during summer, often for short periods and in only a limited number of locations. It has been evident to him, therefore, that people who live, work on Svalbard and know their environment far better than he ever will. This realization has formed the basis for SVALUR

René’s role in SVALUR is to lead, enable and actively participate in the research of the team as a whole, in order to provide holistic insights into long-term environmental change whilst at the same time pinpointing how current monitoring programmes can become more sensitive to people’s lived experiences and optimize their relevance to people living in and visiting Svalbard. What he hopes is that through teamwork with other, SVALUR will be instrumental in providing Svalbard with an ‘environmental memory’, for those who live, work or visit the archipellago, to be inspired by, fall back on and work from.