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Large-Scale Environmental Dynamics: Assessing Processes and Impacts

31 Dec 2003

Global environmental change is now impacting all parts of our globe and generates enormous challenges to the scientific environment. In particular, our ability to communicate to policymakers clear messages regarding complex biological and social interactions will become essential to sustainable development. Major environmental threats include, but are not limited to, fragmentation and habitat loss, over-exploitation, climate change, pollution and POP’s. Pressures increase on the sensitive Arctic environment for its rich resources. The exploration of the Arctic is accelerated by Northern security interests related to growing geopolitical instability in traditional energy suppliers in the Equatorial belt. As pressures grow, also interactions between pressures increase, and former policies and conventions are increasingly becoming ineffective to counter the multiple combined actions of many old and new upcoming threats. The most crucial research questions are related to improving our understanding of the combined actions of pressures on ecosystem processes and species co-actions at regional scales and how they impact the human environment in return. The most crucial methodological deficit in this context is to further develop multidisciplinary approaches suitable for integrating environmental knowledge with social and economic research for understanding not only the complexity of ecosystems and pressures, but also the mechanisms of major drivers behind them. Methodologies in this field are still widely underdeveloped and theoretical. Scenario modeling require strong historic and current understanding of ecosystem processes in order to predict potential outcomes of selected future policies and provide more holistic responses to the decision makers. Integration of indigenous knowledge, their perceptions of the land and its values are still widely lacking. One of the greatest challenges for scientists will be to link and upgrade the complex fine scale knowledge to generate more regional level assessments required to communicate findings in a relevant and understandable manner to the policy-making arena.

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Status: Completed

Type: Staff Publications

Author: Christian Nellemann, Ingunn Vistnes

Year of publication: 2003

Publisher: NATO Science Series

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