Taking into account heterogeneity in ecosystem services monitoring and climate change adaptation.

 Adaptation to climatic changes needs active management of the interactions and tradeoffs among multiple ecosystem service. Adaptive management must build on facts about how climatic – and anthropogenic disturbances influence spatial heterogeneity and co-occurrence of ecosystem services in “bundles”, but also on the different values and priorities that people assign to nature.  How could we monitor changes in people’s values, knowledge and adaptations in relation to Ecosystem Services as the climate changes?

  • Given that values, knowledge and adaptive responses may differ in heterogeneous populations, how could differences in type, intensity and extent of human activity be measured and predicted?
  • How acceptable are the different adaptation actions among different groups depending on factual knowledge and values?


Global warming is expected to have rapid and critical impacts on terrestrial ecosystem services in the Arctic. The Arctic is, however, subject to multiple stressors arising from both local and ex-situ human activities resulting from socioeconomic changes and political decision-making at different levels. These threats interact synergistically with climate-related impacts to change the spatial heterogeneity of ecosystem services (ES). Because sets of ES repeatedly appear together across space and time, it is suggested to analyses ES as bundles. There are many good arguments to bundle ecosystem services and to relate them to different management options. First, people do not value ES one by one, but as several values associated with different places or activities. In the Arctic, such bundles typically represent multiple dimensions such as subsistence use, commercial activities and cultural identity. Second, ecosystem services are clustered in relation to the ecosystem processes that shape them, and a set of ecosystem services are therefore likely to co-occur in relation to a vegetation or ecosystem state. Third, ES usually show synergistic responses to anthropogenic and climatic-related disturbance which is manifested by their co-occurrence spatially. Furthermore, the anthropogenic disturbance that interact with climate-related impacts varies in relation to type, intensity and extent of human use.

Mapping of sociocultural values/use assessed by 80 people from 6 communities from Varanger. The maps visually gives a picture of how communities overlap areas of use, resulting in intensive movement through the landscapes as well as use. additionally it gives a clear picture of how values and knowledge overlap each other within the communities, these all being important facets in relation to ecosystem services and to identify bundles.

This study will focus on climate change adaptations of areas in the Arctic that are ice-free in winter in comparison to other parts of the arctic where melting of sea ice is a primary driver of ecosystem and human use change. Even though the project offsprings from Arctic Norway, the approach will be innovative, having broader impacts as a model for other resource dependent communities in the Arctic and alpine areas worldwide. Therefore, ESarctic is of direct relevance for the communities and decision makers not only in Varanger, but contributes knowledge to public planning processes as a statutory management tool across the Arctic.

“The changes in spatial heterogeneity of ES resulting from global warming or other anthropogenic disturbances are not straightforward to predict, partly due to uncertainties in biophysical factors, but also because of societal transitions which may change the benefits people perceive as important. Understanding the cultural dimension and values that underpin prioritization and benefits is also crucial for crafting policy responses to climate-related impacts.”

The use, values and perceptions are many in the Varanger area. An overview of these is important in understanding the cultural dimensions and prioritization, as well as benefits and the impacts of not only climate related impacts but also social transitions combined. Thus, to properly predict ecological impacts of human use and to adapt to climate change. Such combined relations are crucial to understand.


 Studies show that appealing to the potential co-benefits might be more important for motivating action for addressing climate change than convincing people that climate change is real. Likewise, adaptive risk management in relation to climate needs information about both facts and values, and the ability to learn as we proceed by integrating science communication with public deliberations. Effective actions are accordingly dependent on the involvement of the public and the community in the determination of goals of adaptation policies and in the design of their implementation.

“Monitoring ecosystem services or identifying co-benefits of adapting to climate-related impacts requires methods that could capture the heterogeneity in peoples’ values and priorities and the way it translates to actions that may or may not be aligned with the established adaptive policies.”

Changing values, perceptions and use  is defining the future and how socio-ecological systems should be monitored, developed and managed. Here the visualization of an “Utopia” of the small fishing community in Berlevåg, Northern Norway, is a good example (Photo Vera Hausner).

 Identifying co-benefits of actions in relation to climate-related impacts is regarded as crucial for motivating the public and decision makers to act. This project builds on methods developed in CultES and analyze the linkage between factual knowledge and values, and how it links to spatial extent, intensity and type of use, including its impact on ecosystem services. 4 steps are used to answer the research questions asked in this project;

  1. The project conducts spatial modeling of anthropogenic disturbances in relation to ecosystem services, identify hotspots, potential trade-offs and conflicts for the entire Varanger peninsula.
  2. EsArctic will emphasize on developing a conceptual model, design and implement field assessments of the spatial heterogeneity in ecosystem services depending on vegetation gradients and anthropogenic disturbances.
  3. All registered data on values and priorities related to climate and environment which has been conducted in Finnmark, is collected. Additionally a participatory workshop to identify priorities and potential actions to climate-related impacts on Varanger, will be initiated.
  4. Finally, the project revises present software and will through this revision develop a web-based community monitoring system which will be implemented on Varanger and neighbouring peninsulas in Finnmark.

So far, most literature on climate change adaptations in the Arctic have revolved around the adaptations of commercial and subsistence harvest of fish and wildlife in indigenous populations, particularly in North-America, while the few studies from Eurasia typically includes economic adaptation as a part of their research on climatic-related impacts. Norway, which is less subsistence oriented, has a higher population density, diversified economies, and high heterogeneity in human use, meet different challenges and need different adaptation strategies than the subsistence-oriented communities in the Arctic.

EsArctic emphasizes on the needs of active management within interactions and tradeoffs among multiple ecosystem service. Likewise, how these also differ within different regions, social frames and economies. Adaptive management must build on facts about how climatic – and anthropogenic disturbances influence spatial heterogeneity and co-occurrence of ecosystem services in “bundles”, but also on the different values and priorities that people assign to nature, being subsistence oriented or not.

Studying the main objectives if EsArctic we emphasize on finding tools to recognize and monitor changes in people’s values, knowledge and adaptations in relation to Ecosystem Services as the climate changes.


Comments are closed.