Although the use of participatory mapping methods is increasing in the field of ecology and conservation, there exists little guidance for scientists on the use of the different participatory mapping methods or tools according to the study purpose and context. We decided to explore the scientific literature to see the different purposes, techniques and systems in which participatory mapping has been applied so far in ecology and conservation.  

The goal is to create a guideline for the use of the different techniques applied in participatory mapping. We created an interactive map representing all the studies involving participatory mapping in relation to ecology and conservation from 2000 to 2021. This gave us a real overview on why, where and which kind of participatory mapping are scientists using. Each marker represents a study site where participatory mapping has been done. When one clicks on a marker the title of the study appears and a link to the scientific paper corresponding.  

This map is helping us building the guideline that we hope will promote the use of participatory mapping in the scientific world.



New observations show that the Arctic is now warming three times faster than the planet. The impact of climate change on Arctic communities and ecosystems is significant and accelerating. On 3 November, the Arctic Council held a panel debate at COP 26 on the observational basis for Arctic climate change and the consequences it may have for Arctic ecosystems and communities.

As presenter and panelist was Professor of Sustainability Vera Helene Hausner. She reviewed the results of a recent report on the changes in nature that indigenous peoples and locals are experiencing as a result of an increasingly warming Arctic, changes in fisheries and maritime industries, and the consequences of various types of extreme events.



Kystbarometeret invites people from all the coastal municipalities in northern Norway to map locally important places and assess changes along the coast. In the survey, the participants get to contribute with their knowledge and perspectives on coastal development. This will be an important contribution to the management of the coast.

In total, approx. 17,000 are invited to participate via a postcard in the mail. This corresponds to approx. 5% of the local population in the coastal municipalities in northern Norway. These are recruited at random from the National Population Register.

Join here!

Others who wish will also be able to participate later in the autumn. In the longer term, the goal is to regularly carry out such a survey in order to follow developments over time.

NOTE! Now everyone aged 18-79 in Northern Norway can participate in our survey – Participate here!

Thank you for your participation and input! The link will be open until the 30th of November 2021.

Emma Salminen (doctoral student at UIT), Sigrid Engen (postdoctoral fellow at the Norwegian Institute of Natural History) and Vera Hausner (Professor of Environmental and Resource Studies at UIT) have the main responsibility for conducting the study.



An Ulo, the womens knife for scraping the seal skin and harvesting the seal, is today used as a knife to chop herbs and onions. Photo: Ann E. Lennert

It is not a secret that rapid Arctic warming, manifested as thawing permafrost, loss of coastal sea ice, sea level rise, and climate-related extreme events, is particularly challenging for Indigenous people.

But is technology maybe the key to mitigate challenges posed by climate change, as well as building capacity? And how does technology change how people engage or relate to landscape or society. Are there somethings we actually need to consider to promote transformations that are desirable from a local perspective?

A new study made by the project CONNECT shows how technology is important for enhancing the specific capacity to adapt to changing environmental conditions, natural hazards, and extreme weather events. That it can enhance generic capacity by facilitating the sharing of information and communication about environmental conditions. Increases in both types of capacity improve the ability of Arctic residents to reduce their vulnerability while out on the land and sea.

But on the other hand, results show that technology can provide a false sense of security and embolden people to venture outside without a partner when conditions are unsafe. Solely relying on technology can potentially reduce one’s awareness of the environment and detract from the knowledge and skills necessary for adapting to shifting environmental conditions.

The study discusses while technology can be used to improve the specific capacity to adapt to challenges posed by climate change in the Arctic. One of the most important ways is to improve safety in a rapidly changing environment by improving monitoring, communication, and knowledge transmission by use of technology. If used wisely, the negative aspects of using technology can be offset by combining traditional knowledge with technology to enhance transmissions of traditions and culture between generations. Overall, technology could help people adapt to the complex challenges facing Arctic communities, including the transformations that are desirable from a local perspective.

Want to read the study and article?




The European Commission has adopted the Green Deal, an agreement between EU member states to overcome the challenges faced by climate change and environmental degradation. The aim is to transform EU’s economy and society by reducing greenhouse emissions and separating economic growth from resource use through an inclusive process where all people and places are involved. 

Together with colleagues from the UiT, NTNU and UiS, the Arctic Sustainability Lab is involved in a new online study program launched by the UiT to educate small businesses in moving towards a green transition. Over 30 students started this new program in August 2021. During an academic year, students will learn important aspects of the environment, economy, and practical matters related to the Green Deal. This program offers a flexible education opportunity for small businesses, which despite busy schedules want to learn more about sustainability and about transitioning towards greener leadership. 

We believe that education is an important step for the change towards sustainability and this course is a great opportunity to expand our teaching activities by including small businesses in such an education program.  

Do you want to learn more about the course? 




In 2017 the project CONNECT discussed and presented how migratory tundra caribou herds demonstrate that the sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean has provided a strong signal for climate-induced changes on the adjacent caribou summer ranges, outperforming other climate indices in explaining the caribou-plant dynamics.

Studies had found no evidence for a negative effect of caribou abundance on vegetation biomass. But on the contrary, there was 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.

Caribou (2)
There is seen a strong bottom-up effect in which a warmer climate related to diminishing sea ice has increased the plant biomass, with non-edible shrubs, on the summer pastures resulting in declining caribou populations. Additionally, it signals a climate-driven shift in the caribou-plant interaction.

There is seen a strong bottom-up effect in which a warmer climate related to diminishing sea ice has increased the plant biomass, with non-edible shrubs, on the summer pastures resulting in declining caribou populations. Additionally it signals a climate-driven shift in the caribou-plant interaction.

This probably being 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).

“There’s changes everywhere you look — everything is changing,”

-says Gil Bohrer, corresponding author of the new study published online Thursday in the journal Science.

Now this article 3 years later support this work!

Read article here



Sustainable resource management depends on support and good working relationship between local stakeholders and resource governance institutions. Fish, wildlife, and land management in remote areas face the challenge of working across vast areas, often with limited resources, to monitor land use or the status of the fish-and-wildlife populations. Resource managers depend on local residents, often Indigenous, to gain information about environmental changes and harvest trends.

Trust is central to successful working relationships between resource users and management agencies that yield both sustainable land use and desired ecosystem services.

The role and importance of trust in engagement efforts cannot be under-estimated or under-valued. Without a purposeful and consistent effort to foster trust and build strong relationships at every step of the way, even the best-designed and thoughtful engagement processes will almost certainly either fail or fall far short of the success one seeks to achieve.

Developing mutual trust is thus important for the transfer of knowledge and sustainable use of land resources.

Trust is commonly defined as “the willingness to accept vulnerability, and in doing so participants involved believe that they will not take advantage of each other’s vulnerabilities”. The willingness to accept such vulnerabilities is related to events, both historic and recent, real and imaginary, that can meld trust and have ramifications for respect, communication, and power relationships between management agencies and resource users.

When trust is better understood, governance can be more effective, compliance improved, resources more sustainably used, and end users left more satisfied.

Personal history matters for trust in management agencies and could vary among individuals depending on socioeconomic characteristics such as age, sex, education, employment, ideology, previous experiences and their pre-disposition of trust to organizations and governments. However, trust is not only about who is trusting, but also about who are trusted, such as the governing organizations that decide upon actions and regulations for managing fish, wildlife or land.

Three characteristics are typically associated with the trustworthiness of governing organizations:

Ability (e.g., the agency has the appropriate knowledge, skills, or competency to manage fish-and-wildlife populations)

Benevolence (e.g., the belief that the management agencies act with the best interest of community members in mind)

Integrity (e.g., the management agencies are believed to act in accordance with a set of values and norms that is shared and accepted by community members

Thus, it is necessary to distinguish between the trusting intentions of the community members and the characteristics of agencies that make them trustworthy. Nevertheless, often trust is essential to building and maintaining mutually respectful relationships, especially partnerships involving community stakeholders, NGO’s, researchers etc, in which there is often an inherent imbalance of power.

Effective engagement and trust requires that everyone involved is working from a common understanding of the issue and each other’s perspectives as possible, as well as engaging stakeholders in meaningful ways.

Although closely related to respect, stakeholders will show greater trust in the engagement efforts that account for their perspectives, view their contributions, and employ their skills in a manner that they feel is consistent with their perspectives of these attributes.

Trust is crucial for sharing information and developing rules that agree with local norms, which can support natural resource management in remote areas where monitoring and enforcement is difficult and expensive.

But how do communities in Arctic Alaska and Canada trust the resource governance, and how does engagement, communication, history and education play a role?

The projects CONNECT and RConnected explore this topic:




-finding out how recreation and climate change impact impacts nature conservation

Disturbance to ecosystems in parks and protected areas from nature-based tourism and recreation is increasing in scale and severity, as are the impacts of climate change—but there is limited research examining the degree to which these anthropogenic disturbances interact.

The demand for being outdoors and exploring nature through recreation and tourism, is increasingly stressing the nature and ecosystems we value. Additionally, the impact of climate change is an add on to this complex interaction of pressures on the environment, and the values and rights for enjoying nature”

Parks and protected areas (PPAs) such as national parks, wilderness areas, and nature reserves are essential to species conservation while simultaneously providing naturebased tourism and recreation activities that are enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. This ‘‘dual mandate’’ to protect habitat critical for conservation and allow people to access PPAs to experience nature has often been described as a significant management challenge.

Ecological responses to recreation disturbance are generally  often highly influenced by human factors such as use type and behavior, but also depend on the ecosystem and species that are affected. For example, trampling disturbance from activities such as hiking can result in reduced vegetation cover and a shift in species composition toward ruderal species, but spatial confinement of intense recreation disturbance often limits the disturbance to acceptable levels.

Broadly, recreation and tourism activities often result in vegetation disturbance and soil erosion and,depending on the activity, may impact other ecosystem properties via air and water pollution, noise, wildlife disturbance, and associated feedbacks.

It has become easier for people to access remote terrain via improvements in ski technology, more capable snowmobiles, and in some cases via helicopter. Similarly, the spread of e-mountain bikes and other ridable technology is allowing easier access farther from park entrances. These trends, combined with the increasing use and availability of communication technology and social media to publicize new and unique experiences, suggest a broadening of the spatial scale and an increase in intensity of recreation use

But how does climate change, nature-based tourism and recreation impact animal and species interactions, vegetation? And how do we fill out the knowledge gaps and develop flexible and sustainable management approaches to safeguard conservation and recreation for the future?

A new paper is out by Christopher A. Monz and a group of co-authors exploring this topic and answer, and is done in connection with our projects BlueTrans and CONNECT.

View the article here



How drones can help us in monitoring human impacts of protected areas

Tourism has boomed in national parks in Norway in recent years! Therefor monitoring tourism impacts in protected areas is of high importance to safeguard and preserve these areas of importance for generations to come. One of the focus areas is to monitor trails and get a detailed overview and data on how visitors affect the trails and their surroundings.

“When we think of “leave no trace”, we think of people picking up their garbage and sticking to the trails. What we often forget is that even when we are respectful with nature, we do affect the trails and their surroundings just by walking on them.”

Francisco Javier Ancin Murguzur

When we walk on trails, we are actually making the trails deeper and wider. How many times do we walk on the edges of the path to talk side by side to our friends? We trample the vegetation, and even create new trails that go to interesting landmarks.

A sustainable trail network needs to allow free movement of plants and animals, and to preserve the character of wild, scenic, and cultural landscapes. When visitor number increases, the pressure on the trails are higher, and this could turn a narrow, Instagram-friendly trail into a wide highway.

“Visitor impacts are often measured by walking these trails measuring whether trails are too deep and wide and if the erosion and degradation of the trail is too high. The manual work that we need to do in order to get a good grasp of what is happening in our trails requires lots of skilled people to work under all weather conditions, risking to lose information when weather turns for the worse or the data sheets fly away (it does sometimes happen!).”

Francisco Javier Ancin Murguzur

Nowadays, we have access to fun tools that can help us do the work from a computer: drones! Yes, the small toys that everyone loves to fly and capture stunning images and footage. During one of our field campaigns around a historical site, we had a drone with us by chance, and this supposed toy became an essential and important tool, giving an incredible and precise mosaic overview of the area studied, an area where new tourist facilities will be established and herby establishing a baseline to identify future changes.

It became clear how drones could help protected area management by monitoring visitor use patterns and commonly associated impacts such as trail condition (width and depth), vegetation structure and disturbances, informal trail proliferation, trampling, and trash and other impacts along the trails.

“We decided to take hundreds of overlapping photos of the terrain with our drone, flying at a very low height, and avoiding crashes with trees. These photos had a very high resolution, and we could see individual leaves of grasses on the ground! We felt we were on to something good, so we continued this work in the office afterwards.

Using open source software and a method called photogrammetry, we created a big mosaic of the terrain (technically called an orthophoto), and a model of how the surface looks like (a digital surface model, or DSM). The orthophoto allows us to measure the trail in our computer, using simple tools, and the DSM lets us see the trail contour.

Combining these two, we can now measure how deep the trail is becoming under the influence of visitors, also how wide it is.“

Francisco Javier Ancin Murguzur

The drones helped fit together a high-resolution vegetation classification map that could be used as a baseline for monitoring impacts. The visual inspection of the drone photostoge ther with photogrammetric tools helped provide measurements of trail parameters, such as width, depth and informal trail proliferation, but also more complex measurements such as vegetation change, soil loss due to erosion or landslides, water runoff analyses, man-made fire pits, trash and wildlife cues. Drones actually provide park and protected area managers with reliable tools to monitor recreational impacts in a non-intrusive and efficient manner.

The drones also contributed to high-resolution vegetation classification providing vegetation cover maps and informing decision makers about the landscape and its potential vegetation changes. Such classification approaches can help identify vegetation shifts (e.g. transitions from shrubs to grasses due to trampling), and can provide tools to detect more sensitive areas in combination with the trail parameters

Example of classification on the drone-based orthophoto that allows identifying bare soil against other land cover types such as juniper shrubs, heath or grasses.

“The arial photos also where there where the bare soil, grasses and shrubs in the landscape, which makes it easier to assess what areas will be easier to walk on. We all prefer to walk on grass than between bushes, don’t we?“

Francisco Javier Ancin Murguzur

There is no question that drones can effectively contribute to visitor monitoring and the conservation of protected areas, as well as monitoring of vegetation changes over time -by reducing time spent in the field and by providing high-resolution time series that could be used as baseline to measure tourism impacts on conservation values in protected areas.

“All this process can be done in the computer, after a short field expedition, and the orthophoto and DSM can be stored to be analyzed at any given time. If we want to compare how the landscape looked like after a few years, we can just load the images and directly compare it to the present state of the landscape: do we have more grasses? Did the trail become wider? How long did it take before a trail was restored after closing it?”

Francisco Javier Ancin Murguzur

So what are we waiting for?

View the article here



Today we had a project meeting with the project group of a new exciting project SVALUR starting up.

The labs task is to lead the participatory mapping and digital storytelling and compare with climate and environmental monitoring programs on Svalbard, as well as developing tools and analyzing and synthesizing their respective outputs; contribute to the digital archiving of narrative-based understanding;contribute to project synthesis activities.

Nature is an important part of people’s wellbeing, and this has been very notorious during the last months when the access to nature has been limited in some countries. People increasingly seek nature, and even travel long distances to be in nature. This is because nature contributes to our wellbeing. It provides us with material goods, such as food and firewood, but nature also provides us with nonmaterial goods that contribute to our physical and mental well being, for example recreation opportunities or spiritual sites. And we appreciate and value those material and nonmaterial contributions, maybe differently depending on our culture, education or attachment to a place. Still, nature is important for all of us.

Want know more read here!



Do you value nature?

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Lorena Monuz worked on this topic and defended her PhD this summer. The value of obtaining information about the importance of nature for people can be challenging and costly, especially regarding non-marketable benefits that are important for people. In the Arctic Sustainability Lab, she worked with assessing the applicability of different methods that capture the values people ascribe to nature in order to facilitate the incorporation of these benefits into policy-making.


The study and PhD used crowdsourced data to collect the values that visitors to protected areas ascribe to nature. Crowdsourced data refers to the data created by a large group of people, either to solve a problem or just to create content. For example, the content on social media can be classified as crowdsourced data, as there is a large proportion of society uploading data into these platforms. Also, when we check travel advisor webpages to find the best restaurants, the ranking of the places are based on crowdsourced data from people that have visited those venues.


The study is located in Southern Norway, in the beautiful location of Jotunheimen national park, Utladalen protected landscape and Breheimen national park. The landscape is diverse, with the highest mountains in Scandinavia, ancient glaciers, and a deep valley. Locals have used their surroundings for hundreds of years, and are very attached to this landscape, both for recreation and for their livelihoods. This area is experiencing a growing tourism, as part of the government’s strategy to increase revenue in remote areas and around nature based tourism. Therefore,  it was important to capture how different people visiting and using this area value nature in order to avoid potential conflicts in the future.

In the first study, an online mapping platform was used where participants were asked to drag and drop a list of values that they appreciate from nature. A sample of local residents were invited by letter. Recruitment of visitors at the  main entrances to the parks was done either by face-to-face contact or by leaflets on accommodation venues and parking lots. Here the mapping platform was presented in a link that participants could access from their home. It is based on Google maps, and in addition to the mapping exercise, there was also included general demographic questions. The results of this study show that while recreation and scenic landscapes were the most commonly mapped values, there are differences in the places that people value, and the types of values that people ascribe to nature. For example, domestic and international visitors are quite similar in the values and the places they tagged in the online mapping platform. Participants also differ in less popular values, for example domestic and international visitors value more clean water and biological diversity than locals did, whereas locals highlight hunting and fishing, and cultural values more than the other users. It is important to understand the differences in what people value and the places that are important for people if tourism continues to increase, so that park managers can identify potential conflicts and act before there are problems between user groups or identify areas that are prone to nature degradation.

Erik Nielsen

The second study, wanted to see whether one could obtain information on the values that people ascribe to nature in a passive manner, without the active participation of visitors in a survey. Social media brings the opportunity of obtaining the values that people ascribe to nature from a big group of people. For example, when many hike with friends they take a group picture on the top of the mountain. This is because one enjoys the company of ones friends when hiking, wants to preserve the memory and experience together. From the different social media platforms, Flickr was chosen. This is a photo-sharing platform where people upload images about the things, experiences and relationships that they like. It is a platform where people can upload their images to share with others or simply as a travel diary. The content of the pictures were analyzed to identify the values that they express. These pictures were then compared with the values that where mapped in the first study using the online mapping platform. By comparing both methods, the study was able to assess the differences in the values that each platform is able to capture.  It was identified that the variety of values that can be identified in pictures is less than the set of values used in the online mapping platform. This is because it is difficult to identify the underlying value of the picture, as for example if a picture of a landscape was taken because of the beauty of the landscape, because it is an inspirational landscape to create art, or because of the spiritual value of that particular place. Furthermore, Flickr images are located mainly outside the protected areas, nearby roads and infrastructure facilities. On the other hand, the values mapped using the online mapping platform were mainly located inside protected areas close to trails and major tourist attractions. This difference could be driven by automatic tagging of the images or by biased location of geotags. While both platforms are different, both can inform about the general values for which these places are important for people, but with different opportunities and limitations. While images from Flickr can be obtained for free and with no recruitment of visitors, the types of values that can be identified in pictures is limited. In the online mapping platform, the manager/researcher can decide which values are interesting for the given area, but a recruitment campaign is necessary in order to find people willing to answer the survey.


The last study, tried to find a solution for some of the limitations mentioned above. For that a dedicated mobile app was developed to capture the values that people ascribe to nature. The mobile app functioned as it follows: after downloading the app the visitor would find a set of demographic questions; after that the visitor was invited to track an activity in nature in real time, so that they could tag places that they liked/disliked on the way and select from a list what was interesting about that particular place; finally, when the activity was finished, we asked a few questions about the trip, such as the activities that they did (for example if they were fishing or hiking). The mobile app intended to reduce location problems encountered by the other two platforms, as the integrated GPS of the smartphones allows to accurately geotag places. Visitors were recruited to participate in the study using social media, a newspaper article, and leaflets and posters at points of interest. Additionally a  guideline on the advantages, limitations and ways forward when applying a mobile app for capturing visitors’ values in protected areas, was developed.


What were the conclusions?

The three crowdsourcing methods can be successful at capturing people’s values in protected areas, however, we identified opportunities and limitations of each of the methods, that needs to be considered when managing a protected area.

Flickr is a good platform to collect data with no recruitment effort over a long period of time, as the data is already uploaded by visitors, and is continually being updated. Moreover, the data has been publicly available, so there is no cost on obtaining the data. However, the platform cannot be customized to get specific information from visitors, and this limits the type of values that can be assessed. Also, the accuracy of geotagged photos might be lower than that obtained with other methods, such as a mobile app.

Online mapping platforms can be customized to combine questions and mapping activities, so that the relevant information can be gathered. The accuracy of mapped features has been shown to be good, which allows local scale assessments to be conducted. However, a good recruitment strategy is needed in order to capture a representative sample of respondents. Also, online mapping has mainly been implemented as a one‐time survey, so long‐term data is not usually collected.

Dedicated mobile apps are the most powerful tools to customize the data collection process. Thanks to built‐in functionalities in smartphones it is possible to use the GPS to georeference tags, the camera to photograph features, or the accelerometer to measure the speed at which the user moves in the park, just to mention a few. This provides a high accuracy of the spatial data, up to a sub‐meter resolution. The downsides are that a good recruitment strategy is needed, and the initial cost of developing such a platform can be high. However, once developed, the app can be open over a long time, allowing for long‐term data collection in order to identify changes in nature’s contributions and people’s values.

View the PhD thesis of Lorena Munoz



Exploring the importance of incorporating herders’ knowledge and ecosystem-based adaptation strategies in local decision-making


Ecosystem-based adaptation relies  upon  the  capacity  of  ecosystems  to buffer Arctic communities against the adverse impacts of climate change. Maintaining ecosystems that deliver critical services  to  communities  can  also  provide co-benefits beyond adaptation, such as climate mitigation and protection of biological diversity and livelihoods.

Nevertheless, ecosystem-based adaptation has, to a limited extent, drawn upon indigenous and local knowledge for defining critical services and for implementing Ecosystem-based adaptation in decision-making. This is a paradox given that the  primary focus of ecosystem-based adaptation is to enable communities to adapt to climate change.


Are these tools sufficiently representing pastoralists’ knowledge of  seasonal  pasture  and  services  in  land  use  planning  and decision-making?

Reindeer herders’ knowledge about ecosystems and services has evolved through their continuous adaptation to shifting environments. These socio-ecological dynamics rely on a tight connection between herders, reindeers and their ecosystems, and on flexible strategies for adapting to changing food supplies and environments. Herd mobility and access to diverse habitats is crucial for dealing with a variable environment, including climate risks and extreme events, but these adaptation options have gradually been constrained by competing land uses. Halting loss of pastures and the services they deliver is a key for enabling reindeer herders to adapt to and cope with climate change impacts. Thus, this perspective must be integrated in any ecosystem-based adaptation strategies.

What are the main reasons for loss of critical services?

Unlike most other indigenous pastoralist systems, Sámi knowledge of seasonal pastures is incorporated in local decision-making through Norwegian legislation. Reindeer herders create their own maps based on their knowledge of seasonal pastures, and report their use, disturbances and threats in local plans. These plans document their need for space and resources at different times of the year and are a tool to protect their pastures against other land uses. Despite these ambitions, it is unclear whether the participatory tools actually represent herders’  knowledge sufficiently and whether this knowledge is used in decision making to avoid loss of services. Furthermore, the tools have not been designed to consider flexibility and adaptation to climate change, nor do they capture the dynamics and changing character of migration routes and pastures over time albeit an online version of maps is currently under development that potentially can serve this purpose.


How can we draw on pastoralists’ knowledge to implement management strategies that support ecosystem-based adaptation?

The project IndGov s’ publication Incorporating herders’ knowledge and ecosystem-based adaptation strategies in local decision-making” explores how participatory tools integrate herders’ knowledge in decision-making and to what extent these tools can avoid loss of ecosystem services. It accentuates that pastoralists’ knowledge needs to be incorporated through participatory tools to protect the ecosystems and services crucial for pastoralists. Nevertheless, multiple competing land uses result in incremental loss of pastures regardless.




Kysbarometeret has invited people from all the coastal municipalities in northern Norway to map locally important places and assess changes along the coast. In the survey, the participants get to contribute with their knowledge and perspectives on coastal development. This will be an important contribution to the management of the coast.

In total, approx. 17,000 are invited to participate via a postcard in the mail. This corresponds to approx. 5% of the local population in the coastal municipalities in northern Norway. These are recruited at random from the National Register.

Others who wish will also be able to participate later in the autumn. The link to the survey can be found later on Kystbarometerets website. In the longer term, the goal is to regularly carry out such a survey in order to follow developments over time.

Postcard 1



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.

Follow our travel and our observations along the way HERE.




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:




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 !