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Adolf Hoel’s pioneering years 1906–1925

Geologist Adolf Hoel lost his heart to Svalbard in 1907, the first time he visited the archipelago. From then on he dedicated his life to promoting Norway’s interests in Svalbard and nearby polar regions.

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    On Lilliehöökbreen 1907. Adolf Hoel on the right. ukjent / Norsk Polarinstitutt

In 1907 Hoel joined Gunnar Isachsen’s scientific and mapping expedition to Svalbard in the capacity of geologist. The expedition was funded by Prince Albert I of Monaco. Two ships participated. Isachsen's shore party consisted of leader and cartographer Isachsen, geologist Hoel, botanist Hanna Dieset, and two assistants. They worked mainly in the inland of northwestern Spitsbergen.

Hoel went back to Svalbard in 1908 along with geologist Gunnar Holmsen. This expedition was funded by the University of Kristiania (Oslo) among others. Along the way, both Hanna Dieset and Hjalmar Johansen joined the expedition. From 1908 to 1925, Hoel led scientific expeditions to Svalbard every year. Starting in 1909, the Norwegian state stepped in as a co-sponsor and the expeditions came to be known as De norske statsunderstøttede Spitsbergenekspeditioner (The Norwegian State-supported Spitsbergen Expeditions).

All of Hoel’s considerable capacity was now devoted to Norway’s cause in the polar regions, especially Svalbard. His eyes glanced east and west in the Arctic. Through persistent annual lobbying, Hoel managed to keep his ‘Svalbard office’ open year after year. His knowledge about Svalbard was both broad and deep, making him a central figure in all polar issues.

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    Expedition members in front om a trapper`s hut made from a boat. ukjent / Svalbard museum

The scientific efforts of Hoel and the Svalbard office proved highly useful in the preparation of what ultimately became the Svalbard Treaty. After the treaty was signed, Hoel was appointed to assist in the formal work of sorting out the numerous annexation claims involving several parties and nations.

Hoel was a great support for individual trappers and trapping outfits in Svalbard. He was receptive to all ideas and projects that Norwegians might possibly engage in. He was also concerned about environmental protection and sustainable resource use. In 1921, at the behest of Norway’s National Association for Nature Conservation, he wrote a proposal for regulations to protect both natural and cultural heritage in Svalbard. Hanna Dieset contributed a proposal for protection of plants.

Museum24:Portal - 2024.06.11
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