The last private land at the 'gates to the Arctic' offered for sale

The property «Søre Fagerfjord» at Wedel Jarlsberg Land in the Southwest of Svalbard.
The property «Søre Fagerfjord» at Wedel Jarlsberg Land in the Southwest of Svalbard. Copyright Aktieselskabet Kulspids
Copyright Aktieselskabet Kulspids
By Doloresz Katanich
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The 15,000 acre plot is halfway between Norway and the North Pole. It lies at the heart of a pristine wilderness which has provoked debate over climate change and is the focus of geopolitical tensions among global powers who are eager to exploit the natural resources of the Arctic region.


The last remaining privately owned land on the Svalbard archipelago in Norway, "with significant environmental, scientific and economic importance" is on sale, for €300 million. 

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire land on one of the world-famous Svalbard islands," Will Matthews, Head of Farms & Estates at Knight Frank told Euronews Business. 

Global real estate consultancy Knight Frank, which is marketing the company holding 100% of the land, said that it is a "unique environmental, philanthropic and conservation opportunity."

The land has a strategic location and is of geopolitical interest

The geopolitical competition in the region between the United States, Russia, and China is tangible, there have been increased military operations in the region by Russia. There has also been a rise in commercial shipping through the Arctic. The diminishing sea ice, which has been attributed to climate change, opens up the possibility for exploiting more natural resources including oil, gas, and mineral deposits in the Arctic. 

Søre Fagerfjord
Søre FagerfjordAktieselskabet Kulspids

Svalbard has exceptional strategic importance because it is "essentially the gates to the Arctic," reads the brochure noting that the place is ideal for controlling navigation and air traffic in the Arctic Ocean, for instance. 

Location, location, location

Svalbard, between mainland Norway and the North Pole, is one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas.

Almost 3,000 people live on the nine main islands of Svalbard which has its own university (UNIS) and among other things is famous for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

In the past, the area depended mainly on the coal industry, but these days research, satellite data downloading and tourism have also become important supplementary industries.

The land, called Søre Fagerfjord, which is up for sale now is 14,830 acres (approximately 60 sq. km), almost ten times the size of Gibraltar. It is at Wedel Jarlsberg in Western Svalbard, recognized in the Svalbard Treaty, signed in 1920. All other properties on Svalbard are owned or controlled by Norway or Russia. 

Bloomberg, which reported the news first, noted that controversy erupted in 2014 when another privately owned property, holding coal mining land in the region got an offer from a Chinese buyer but the Norwegian state moved in to buy it up. 

Why this is the place for 'conservation and philanthropy'

The plot offered for sale has a considerable amount of land which can be protected or developed, according to the new owner's interests. 

Midway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean, approximately 60% of the archipelago is covered with glaciers. The islands feature many mountains and fjords. The archipelago has an Arctic climate, although with significantly higher temperatures than other areas at the same latitude. 

Søre Fagerfjord
Søre FagerfjordAktieselskabet Kulspids

Svalbard is a breeding ground for many seabirds, and is home to polar bears, reindeer, the Arctic fox, and certain marine mammals. The archipelago has 24-hour of sunlight between 20 April and 22 August.

Seven national parks and 23 nature reserves cover two-thirds of the archipelago. 

"This is the ultimate investment of passion for a UHNWI with a genuine interest in conservation and future-proofing this diverse landscape," 

The temperatures in the Arctic continue to rise at three times the global annual average, and the sale comes as the Svalbard region has had less sea ice, more rain and higher temperatures, 

Who can buy it?

"The sellers will sell to the highest bidder," Per Kyllingstad, a lawyer representing the sellers told Bloomberg.

The only restriction as to who can buy the private company, holding the ownership of the land is to originate from a country that ratified the Svalbard Treaty. There are almost 50 of these countries across the globe, according to Wikipedia, including Russia and China. 


"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 from Knight Frank 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 14,800 acres of land home."

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