CHARTER (Drivers and feedbacks of changes in Arctic terrestrial biodiversity) will run for four years from 1st August 2020. The project is a global effort with partners from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, UK, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, United States, Canada, China and Russia.
"The idea of the project is to make science and indigenous and local communities meet and interact" says Bruce Forbes of the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland in Finland.
Forbes is the project coordinator, leading the team of 21 international partners with a budget of 5.9 million euros.
The project is an ambitious effort to advance the capacity of Arctic communities to adapt to climatic and biodiversity changes. This is done through state-of-the-art synthesis based on thorough data collection, analysis and modelling of Arctic change with major socio-economic implications.
The research integrates expertise from Earth system sciences and biodiversity studies within a social-ecological system framework, while giving local people’s knowledge a central role in the research.
Strategies, co-developed in partnership with indigenous and local communities, will incorporate synergies between the partners' ambitions for adaptation actions with novel forms of land management geared towards climate change mitigation and sustainable development.
The overall objective is an improved understanding of Arctic change and how ecosystems and communities should navigate this change, and the implications for decision-makers, national and international climate/biodiversity policies and reindeer pastoralism governance.
Working closely with Arctic communities
Arctic climate change facts provide the background to the project. Arctic air temperatures have already increased more than six times the global average. Even if existing COP21 Paris Agreement commitments are met, winter temperatures over the Arctic Ocean will increase by 3-5°C by mid-century, compared to 1986-2005 levels. This will have profound consequences for indigenous and local communities as well as for social-ecological system resilience.
CHARTER will work with Arctic communities to co-develop strategies and policy pathways for local and regional development and adaptation. The project also aims to project and simulate the effects of social-ecological changes for linked indigenous and local communities and traditional livelihoods in the affected territories, especially for the herding and hunting of large semi-domesticated and wild ungulate herds. In addition, the project aims to understand the responses of Arctic terrestrial systems to changes in the cryosphere (e.g. permafrost, snow and sea ice cover, and rain-on-snow events), biodiversity, and their feedbacks and interactions.
CHARTER will work both in Northern Fennoscandia and in Northwest Russia, utilising existing datasets from these regions, as well as the North American Arctic, Greenland and high alpine zones of the EU. It will create a unique data-based synthesis of 21st century Arctic change. The policy options will be driven by the production of knowledge formed through cooperation with local communities, and will take account of global socio-ecological changes, including climate change.
Noragric researcher Andrei Marin will work closely with reindeer herders in Finnmark, Norway. He will focus on the socio-economic impacts of environmental changes on local communities and livelihoods, as well as on how the grazing regimes change at local and regional scales.
“This is a truly exciting project, thoroughly integrating insights from natural sciences, social sciences and local knowledge. The level of expertise, geographical reach, and attention to meaningful involvement of local people (like reindeer pastoralists) is both promising and motivating. I can’t wait to start!” - Andrei Marin.
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