NEWS: Everything begins in the east

Kystbarometeret is up and going! And right now we are along the coast of Northern Norway, as in order to develop good goals for sustainability, we need input from a wide range of interests. We are on a cruise with Hurtigruten along the coast of Northern Norway to discuss good goals for sustainability from a local perspective.

So follow are travel!

Everything starts in the east

Blog: BlueTrans Vardø, 12.03.2019

By: Erik Olsen, Havforskningsinstituttet

My PC automatically switched to Moscow time when we landed, because with its location at 31 degrees east, Vardø is farther east than St. Petersburg, and is Norway’s easternmost inhabited point (Hornøya, just east of Vardø is Norway’s easternmost point, but just live birds). From Vardø I look straight out into the open Barents Sea with its demanding Arctic climate, but also ice-free seas that have given the opportunity to fish and sea transport all year round. The combination of fish and Pomor trade laid the foundation for Vardø, and fishing today is a cornerstone of the local community.

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Vardø harbour

The Barents Sea will be severely affected by climate change until 2100, and it is one of the sea areas that will experience the greatest warming, which in turn will lead to major changes in the ecosystem, fish stocks and where and how to fish. At the same time, this opens up opportunities for increased maritime transport, which, together with increased tourism, oil activities and other uses of the sea and coastal areas, will radically change how we humans utilize the ecosystems in the north.

In order to better understand and manage these changes, we must engage in holistic ecosystem management, which means assessing multiple impacts, processes, and human activities simultaneously. Being able to assess the overall state of the sea and the coast is then an ambitious but necessary task, and then we need tools and methods that make it possible to make comprehensive assessments of what is sustainable coastal development “The health of the sea and the coast of Vardø”.

In Kystbarometeret (the Coastal Barometer), we want to give a measure of sustainability and the condition of each coastal municipality in Nordland, Troms and Finnmark. What is considered as sustainability and good condition for the sea is not something we researchers can consider alone. This concerns everyone who lives and uses the coast. Therefore, researchers from the Kystbarometeret are now visiting five municipalities in Finnmark, Troms and Nordland to meet the local population to get their input on what in their eyes is sustainability and good condition for our coast and sea areas.

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Kystbarometer team ready in Vardø. From the left: Erik Olsen (HI), Marina Espinasse (HI), Sigrid Engen (NINA), Vera Hausner (UiT), Per Fauchald (NINA, Prosjektleder Kystbarometeret)

It was therefore natural to start the furthest east of Norway. We had the first meeting in Vardø, where local fishermen, tourism contractors and others from the local population had to share their views on the ten sub-goals we believe best describe sustainability and state along the coast. We met locals with a great deal of knowledge about their sea areas, and not least their commitment and clear opinions about what matters a lot for the condition of their coast and sea to be the best possible.

We now continue our journey westwards towards Hammerfest, which is the next stop for Kystbarometeret. We look forward to meeting several dedicated Finnmarkers who can help us define what matters most when we are managing North Norway’s unique coast and sea areas.

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Vardøhus fortress

(Photo: Chuttersnap)


If our future global population ate more seafood from aquatic farming, or aquaculture, to meet their protein needs, we may be able to substantially reduce one of the biggest environmental impacts of meat production – land use – without giving up meat entirely.

Our Arctic Sustainability Lab researcher Claire A. Runge together with others have published a new paper in PNAS.

For me, this paper is about land use and the future of the species and ecosystems which share our planet. The decisions that we, as a society, take over the next few years will shape the future of the planet around us, says Claire Runge

This research is the first land-use analysis of future food systems that focuses on aquaculture, the world’s fastest growing food sector, and helps reveal its potential role in conservation and food security. The study shows the amount of cropland that would be required to support a future world with more farmed aquatic animals would be significantly smaller than what we would need to support terrestrial livestock production.

Aquaculture could meet growing protein demands while lessening future food production’s footprint

Want to learn more click here.


In relation to Kystbarometeret we have been teaming up with ICE-9 and Hello X.

In a changing Arctic, society is facing multidisciplinary challenges, that requires new education strategies, to build a co-productive understanding and knowledge, as well as a co-responsibility of the future. As a group of artists, writers, storytellers, filmmakers, and researchers, ICE-9 present a project that builds experimental spaces for productive play with research and stories, meeting a multidisciplinary approach combining knowledge from different disciplines and penetrating though all levels of society. These spaces are online, on the street, in classrooms and museums. Our strategy is improvisational, collaborative, and networked. Collaborating with researches and using their research-based facts, found the basis of these spaces, where we communicate issues of contemporary concern adapted to the age of youth, and discuss and reflect issues and possible solutions. Fazing between formal and informal education in Arctic topics and themes on different levels, we present an alternative way in outreach activities related to Arctic studies, not only for researchers, but the wider public, making knowledge sustainable. Not at least, we present processes that create positive feedback loops between science, art, and education, supporting a transition towards a knowledge-based circular economy in an inclusive, just, and democratic global society.


Doing research communication, they also collected data of 400 youths and their perceptions of the future coasts of Norway.

Why the youth?

The youth seem to by an always missing part of this puzzle even though they are the most important piece, as they are going to live this future that is being framed on behalf of them.


Keep posted as we analyze and present the data in the future!


In connection with the research days at UIT we began our participatory mapping for our new proejct member of the lab; Kystbarometeret.


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CultEs just published a fantastic app! Go tracking in Jotunheimen and check the survey and app out!



The Arctic Sustainabiltiy Lab participated at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM), June 19-22 in Umeå, Sweden. We had 3 speakers, where Sigrid Engen was one presenting:

Public participation in Norwegian protected area governance – the role of advisory councils



Genuine participation of stakeholders is essential for attaining ideals of local ownership, place attachment and identity, the backbone of stewardship practices (Lokocz et al., 2011). In today’s Norwegian protected area policy, attaining these ideals is largely left to representative democracy. Local boards with elected politicians have decision making authority, while local stakeholders are appointed to advisory councils and should be consulted, but the functioning and involvement of these councils vary a lot. Navigating social-ecological systems to arrive at sustainable solutions is a complex undertaking and it is increasingly acknowledged that complexity should be addressed, not by governments alone, but through governance – interactions and decision-making among multiple actors. Well-designed participatory processes are vital in this respect. They can encourage sustainability and enhance the adaptive capacity of social-ecological systems by increasing the legitimacy of a decision, enhance trust, provide higher quality decisions, improving implementation due to less opposition and increased civic competence (von Korff et al., 2010). In this study, we examined the role of the advisory councils through an extensive questionnaire that involved 11 councils. We asked about their background, knowledge, values, preferences, the functioning of the councils and their relation with the different environmental authorities and each other. Results show that the stakeholders are highly knowledgeable and experienced. They see advisory councils as the preferred approach to participation, but wish to be more involved than at present. Advisory councils can become a great asset and efforts should be made to make participation mutually beneficial for all parties in order to advance towards achieving benefits like knowledge co-production and social learning.


One of our Ph.D. students of the science lab and part of CultEs just got an article accepted for publication in Conservation Letters!

Impact of local empowerment on conservation practices in a highly developed

Community-based conservation, where local decision makers are responsible for balancing conservation and development, is often preferred to exclusionary conservation that prioritizes use-limitation through strict regulation. Unraveling the evidence for conservation impact of different governance regimes is challenging. Focusing on conservation practices before and after a reform can provide an early indication of behavioral changes acting as a precursor to changes in social and ecological outcomes, which generally need more time to materialize. A recent reform in Norway provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the impact of local empowerment on conservation practices in protected areas. We analyzed 1,466 decisions in 31 protected areas before and after the reform while accounting for differences between private and public property ownership. We found that the conservation practices were liberal both before and after the reform. The impact of local empowerment on conservation practices was contingent on land tenure: more use was allowed after the reform on private land. We conclude that conservation impact evaluations could benefit from a before-and-after spatial approach taking into account land tenure for analyzing the impacts of local decision making.

Congratulations to Sigrid Engen and read more here:



A publication in ScienceAdvances and the project CONNECT is in the media!

Climate change is creating greener tundra, which may sound like good news for caribou, bu on the contrary,  there is found a strong bottom-up effect in which a warmer climate related to diminishing sea ice has increased the plant biomass on the summer pastures resulting in declining caribou populations. This can be an early signal of a climate-driven shift in the caribou-plant interaction dominated by non-edible shrubs with diminishing herds of migratory caribou (Fauchald et al. 2017).

The question now is not only how this “greening” of the Arctic might affect Arctic ecosystems but also how this affects the Indigenous communities relying on the hunt of caribou and eventually also other animals and plants within the food chain.

This publication and important topic has been picked up by Motherboard & New Deeply (Arctic Deeply), spreading the word.




One more MSc student opportunity !

Are you a student and interested in ecosystem services research in the Arctic Norway? We are looking for students to join our team in EsArctic to work with ecosystem services on the Varanger peninsula.

 We are developing new tools and technologies for adaptive monitoring of ecosystem services in Arctic and alpine areas. In collaboration with Utah State, Oregon State University and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, we are developing spatial models for the distribution of ecosystem services at the landscape scale. We are therefore looking for a MSc student who is interested in developing a tool for analyzing ecosystem services using the Sample Point approach. Become a part of our team and innovatively contribute to the development of our tools!

 Follow the link to learn more!

MSc Adaptive monitoring of ecosystem services using a sample point approach


Do you want to become a future Master Student on a Arctic Sustainability project? –IndGov gives you the upportunity!

Master stipends: The IndGov project issues master stipends of NOK 30.000 to conduct specific tasks related to mapping of reindeer husbandry land use in collaboration with Vera Hausner and Per Sandström (the TriArc project). The stipend may be allocated to a student enrolled at an appropriate master program from the fall of 2017 or a graduate. Contact Camilla Brattland at or Vera Hausner at for more information.

This is a great opportunity to enter Arctic and Sustainability Sciences, with a positive and innovative research team!


– Research is also about outreach and making ones work sustainable in communities. Talks about Technology and subsistence was made during the fieldwork of CONNECT, with a lot of enthusiasm and engagement of the students of 6th graders.


– Jen Schmidt, CONNECT,  conducting interviews and q-sorts of 10-12 people in 3 Arctic communities in Alaska: Noorvik, Noatak, and Brevig Mission.  Noorvik and Noatak are in the Northwest Arctic Borough which obtains revenue from the Red Dog Mine which is one of the largest zinc mines in the world.  Noatak is closer to Red Dog and residents of Noatak a larger portion of residents are employed by the mine than in Noorvik.  Noorvik, however, has started a rock crushing operation that does provide some employment opportunities.  Meanwhile, Brevig Mission is in the Nome census area and there is minimal resource extraction activity and economic benefits from resource extraction activities. These three communities have slightly different geography and socio-economic conditions and which might influence use and access to technology. The interviews are about technology, subsistence, and climate change.  The goal is to examine how technology use has changed, especially over the last 10 years.  Also weather changes in technology have influenced subsistence dynamics such as participation, use areas, harvest, success, etc.  Lastly, we would like to know what role technology plays in addressing climate related changes in the environment.

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Participatory mapping in Noorvik (Photo: Jen Schmidt).


– The Arctic Sustainability Lab has been initiated !

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