CC3: Building social-ecological resilience

Date: Friday October 12, 2018

Location: Tieva, Lappia Hall

Time: 10:30-12:00

Resilience is the ability of a system to bounce back and thrive during and after disturbances and shocks. It is a cross-cutting topic which has become increasingly important to the Arctic Council in the face of rapid changes. Social and ecological systems in the Arctic are inextricably linked, and some aspects of these systems are changing fundamentally and surpassing thresholds which may be irreversible. Residents of the Arctic have always adapted to environmental changes, but the current rate and intensity of climate change, combined with other social, environmental, economic and political shifts and constraints, make adaptation extremely challenging in today’s Arctic. This session explores approaches and partnerships to foster social-ecological resilience.


Chairs: Marcus Carson, Stockholm Environment Institute / Government of Sweden; Saara Lilja-Rothsten, Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry, Government of Finland

Format: Series of presentations followed by discussion


  1. The Arctic Resilience Action Framework - moving from insight to action: Marcus Carson, Stockholm Environment Institute / Government of Sweden pdf
  2. The Arctic Resilience Forum 2018 Lessons learned: Saara Lilja-Rothsten, Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry, Government of Finland pdf
  3. Herder’s knowledge and repeated measurements of reindeer use set the baseline for understanding reindeer impact on woody taxa: Anna Skarin, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences pdf
  4. Sustainable and resilient reindeer husbandry in an increasingly uncertain world: A comparative analysis with yak herding in Tibetan plateau: Mia Landauer, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland pdf



The Arctic Resilience Action Framework - moving from insight to action

Marcus Carson, Stockholm Environment Institute / Government of Sweden

There are different modes of change relevant to the Arctic, across multiple scales. This presentation discusses how these modes link with the Arctic Resilience Action Framework, how different modes of change can be fostered and supported, and how they might impact biodiversity positively.


The Arctic Resilience Forum 2018 Lessons learned

Saara Lilja-Rothsten, Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry, Government of Finland

The Arctic Resilience Forum will be held in Rovaniemi, Finland on 10-11 September 2018. The Forum is part of the implementation of the Arctic Resilience Action Framework (ARAF). In ARAF, Resilience is defined as an ability of a system to bounce back and thrive during and after disturbances and shocks. Resilience is a cross-cutting issue that is increasingly important for the Arctic Council. Arctic States, Permanent Participants, and all six of the Arctic Council Working Groups are involved in activities that build resilience. A resilience approach emphasizes interlinked social-ecological systems; interdisciplinary collaboration; the integration of scientific disciplines and knowledge and learning systems; interactions across local, regional, national and international scales; and the bridging of knowledge, policy and practice. The aim of the Forum is to enhance understanding of Arctic resilience through examples of best practices and to promote implementation of Arctic solutions and co-operation opportunities to strengthen resilience. The key issue is to create the conditions to strengthen resilience and adaptability of actors in the Arctic regions. The arctic area has high vulnerability due to the climate change thus it is essential to disseminate best practices and tools for adapting to climate change and to manage climate and weather related impacts that are posed by a rapidly changing Arctic. The Arctic resilience forum will increase the arctic collaboration by bridging of knowledge, policy and practice. The lessons learned from the forum be represented, discussions from an open seminar on the first day and from the workshops from the second day to the Arctic Council´s Working Groups and other key Arctic stakeholders. The focus is to find, analyze and share the concrete tools available for the urgently needed immediate resilience building in the Arctic.


Herder’s knowledge and repeated measurements of reindeer use set the baseline for understanding reindeer impact on woody taxa

Anna Skarin, Anna Skarin, SLU (SE), Timo Kumpula, UEF (FI), Marc Macias-Fauria, Univ of Oxford (UK), Mariana Verdonen, UEF (FI), Bruce Forbes, Arctic Centre (FI)

Rapid climate change in Arctic regions has been linked to the expansion of trees and shrubs: the tundra is becoming greener. Reindeer have been proposed as potentially being able to suppress this greening through grazing. Quantifying reindeer use of different vegetation types in relation to landscape topography can help us understand reindeer impact on the growth of woody taxa (e.g. Salix spp.) and their recruitment in naturally denuded landslide areas (i.e. active layer detachment slides). This is important in order to project future patterns of greening, albedo, snow capture, and the overall resilience of tundra rangelands under further predicted climate change. Here we show results of reindeer habitat use in a tundra region of West Siberia, Russia described by an elder reindeer herder and estimated from pellet-group counts. Participatory observations and interviews were performed in July 2015 following a private herder migrating through Yamal peninsula. In July 2013, 2014, and 2017 we did repeated counting of pellets and measurement of shrub height within 212 15-m2 plots, over a 30-km2 landslide-rich area, close to the migration route. In 2013, the plots were established and we removed old pellets out of the plots. Salix leaves and young twigs comprise an important source of forage for migratory reindeer. Our pellet-group count show high use by the reindeer of dwarf shrub (ridge-top) tundra: exposed ridges provide insect relief during summer when wind is sufficient, and willows on ridge-tops tend to be low erect or prostrate forms with strong evidence of grazing and trampling. However, the reindeer do not stop and browse shrubs, the herder state, "In general, reindeer eat small plants and leaves from tips of the shrubs here and there without stopping". Although the pellet-group count show less use of more concave areas (e.g. old landslides) with tall Salix, these areas are also important during warm weather, as there are fewer insects under the shrubs. During interviews we were told, “They go into willow bushes because they can find there plenty of leaves [showing herbs and graminoids]. Also, there are almost no mosquitos under bushes and they can use willow branches to scratch the insects from their antlers”. Our results indicate that reindeer have most impact on low erect shrubs, while they seem less probable to browse high erect Salix, as they go underneath for insect relief and grazing of the ground vegetation and not to browse the top of the plant.


Sustainable and resilient reindeer husbandry in an increasingly uncertain world: A comparative analysis with yak herding in Tibetan plateau

Mia Landauer, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland; Wei Lu, Risk and Resilience Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria, Ziyun Zhu, Peking University

For thousands of years, circumpolar indigenous peoples and their semi-domesticated herds of reindeer have been part of the Arctic terrestrial ecosystem. Together they play an important role in driving ecosystems changes in various Arctic regions and at the same time cope with and adapt to the changes, forming a unique coupled social-ecological system. Establishment of modern nation states across the circumpolar regions in the past centuries, especially after World War II, has significantly changed reindeer husbandry, as well as its relationship to ecosystems changes. Managing reindeer herding sustainably and resiliently to support the realizations of both conservation (i.e., Convention on Biological Diversity and Aichi Biodiversity Targets) and development goals (i.e., Sustainable Development Goals) in the Arctic is a daunting challenge, especially considering the increasing level of uncertainty from climatic changes and globalization. Yak herding in Tibetan plateau faces similar situation, and various policies have been designed and implemented to enhance the habitat quality of yaks and wild herbivores and the resilience of alpine pasture systems. We conduct a comparative analysis of reindeer herding in northern Fennoscandia and yak herding in Tibetan plateau. We apply a multi-tiered Social-Ecological Systems Framework to demonstrate a range of similarities and dissimilarities on the generic characteristics of the two pasturing systems, including the resources, ecosystems, governance and key actors. We further zoom into two cases, one in Northern Finland and one in the Sanjiangyuan National Park in China, to elaborate the specific processes and elements that lead to past and recent changes of tundra/alpine pasture ecosystems as well as the cultural and livelihood systems. We specifically highlight the changing roles of herders and ecosystem-based management. We believe that cross-learning potential between reindeer and yak pasturing systems is significant; exploiting this potential can substantially improve understanding of these complex social-ecological systems and inform the design and implementation of effective policies and practices to enhance their resilience in the face of climate and global change. This study promotes sustainable management of the Arctic's living resources and their habitat, and contributes to development of sustainable and resilient reindeer husbandry by means of integrating traditional knowledge and science.


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