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Long-Term Change and Sustainability in Arctic Social-Ecological Systems

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2022) | Viewed by 7297

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
ARCTICenter, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614, USA
Interests: sustainability; Arctic social-ecological systems; resilience and change in Arctic communities; community wellbeing
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
ARCTICenter, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614, USA
Interests: Arctic social-ecological systems; sustainability; vulnerability; global change; indigenous livelihoods

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Arctic is undergoing rapid environmental, socio-cultural and economic transformation. Monitoring current change and anticipating future developments are becoming more important than ever. Assessing the sustainability and resilience of socio-ecological systems involves a better understanding of the complex interactions between social and ecological domains and facilitates the creation of resilient systems whilst increasing the knowledge capacities of Arctic communities and their ability to shape change. A number of initiatives are currently underway to assess sustainability and resilience in the Arctic, taking into consideration the impacts of biophysical and social drivers of change. This Issue aims to explore how Arctic communities deal with the combined challenges from climate change; political, economic and resource pressures; changes to the global order and new socio-cultural realities, and what the long-term implications it may entail for sustainability in the Arctic. 

The papers in this Special Issue will contribute to the understanding of nature and human responses to long-term environmental change, long-term impacts of human activities on Arctic ecosystems in the context of sustainability and the resilience of Arctic social-ecological systems. The focus on long-term changes reflects the urgent need for sustainability research to consider long-lasting processes and implications that lead to fundamental transformation in SES. Specifically, the contributions to this Special Issue will (1) improve our understanding of long-term human responses to climatic and environmental change; (2) provide insights into long-term human impacts on Arctic and sub-Arctic ecosystems; (3) enhance our understanding of sustainability in transforming Arctic social-ecological systems and human decision-making ‘pathways’ over generational time scales and (4) highlight the engagement of indigenous knowledge in understanding socio-ecological dynamics at different time scales.  

Prof. Dr. Andrey N Petrov
Dr. Stanislav Ksenofontov
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • environmental change
  • sustainability
  • Arctic
  • social-ecological systems
  • indigenous peoples
  • climate change
  • resilience

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 6402 KiB  
Article
Taiga Landscape Degradation Evidenced by Indigenous Observations and Remote Sensing
by Arina O. Morozova, Kelsey E. Nyland and Vera V. Kuklina
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 1751; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15031751 - 17 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2063
Abstract
Siberian taiga is subject to intensive logging and natural resource exploitation, which promote the proliferation of informal roads: trails and unsurfaced service roads neither recognized nor maintained by the government. While transportation development can improve connectivity between communities and urban centers, new roads [...] Read more.
Siberian taiga is subject to intensive logging and natural resource exploitation, which promote the proliferation of informal roads: trails and unsurfaced service roads neither recognized nor maintained by the government. While transportation development can improve connectivity between communities and urban centers, new roads also interfere with Indigenous subsistence activities. This study quantifies Land-Cover and Land-Use Change (LCLUC) in Irkutsk Oblast, northwest of Lake Baikal. Observations from LCLUC are used in spatial autocorrelation analysis with roads to identify and examine major drivers of transformations of social–ecological–technological systems. Spatial analysis results are informed by interviews with local residents and Indigenous Evenki, local development history, and modern industrial and political actors. A comparison of relative changes observed within and outside Evenki-administered lands (obshchina) was also conducted. The results illustrate: (1) the most persistent LCLUC is related to change from coniferous to peatland (over 4% of decadal change); however, during the last decade, extractive and infrastructure development have become the major driver of change leading to conversion of 10% of coniferous forest into barren land; (2) anthropogenic-driven LCLUC in the area outside obshchina lands was three times higher than within during the980s and 1990s and more than 1.5 times higher during the following decades. Full article
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19 pages, 2480 KiB  
Article
Sustainability and Resilience of Indigenous Siberian Communities under the Impact of Transportation Infrastructure Transformation
by Maria Kuklina, Antonina Savvinova, Viktoria Filippova, Natalia Krasnoshtanova, Viktor Bogdanov, Alla Fedorova, Dmitrii Kobylkin, Andrey Trufanov and Zolzaya Dashdorj
Sustainability 2022, 14(10), 6253; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14106253 - 20 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2338
Abstract
Transport provision in remote territories is one of the most important factors in maintaining the sustainability of socio-economic and ecological systems. Indigenous peoples of Siberia have always been mobile using diverse traditional ways across the taiga. During the Soviet period, the transition to [...] Read more.
Transport provision in remote territories is one of the most important factors in maintaining the sustainability of socio-economic and ecological systems. Indigenous peoples of Siberia have always been mobile using diverse traditional ways across the taiga. During the Soviet period, the transition to settled life, along with technological development and the emergence of new modes of transport, such as off-road cars, snowmobiles, and motor boats, significantly affected the level of population mobility, including remote areas where people are engaged in traditional nature management. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were significant changes and reductions in the subsidies of transportation systems for remote terrains that made them isolated. Transport connectivity has been realized through rare plane flights (once a month or less) or by cars on dirt roads (actually off-road) that take several days of travel. Siberian territories rich with natural resources, low population density, and weak infrastructure might be attractive for mining companies. Being difficult to access not only for the local population, but also for industrial companies, the territories imply the allocation of a significant share of road construction and transport costs in the cost items of miners and processors. The problems of sustainability and resilience of the indigenous peoples of Siberia require special attention when restructuring transport communications, but they have practically not been studied before. Methods of in-depth and group interviews with local residents were used. Based on comparative geographic and statistical analysis and generalization of data, network and problem approaches applied for various sources and field materials (including in-depth and group interviews), the factors of sustainability and resilience, which the indigenous communities of three remote Siberian territories pin their hopes on in the context of the transformation of transportation infrastructure, have been identified. If geographic remoteness remains an unchanged fact, the expansion of desired transport accessibility (mainly due to investments by industrial companies) is associated by locals with the possibility of additional income related to provision of services, the emergence of new types of employment of the population that have not been observed before, and the implementation of new transport modes to support traditional activities. Full article
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20 pages, 3701 KiB  
Article
When Ice Turns to Water: Forest Fires and Indigenous Settlements in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
by Lilia Vinokurova, Vera Solovyeva and Viktoria Filippova
Sustainability 2022, 14(8), 4759; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084759 - 15 Apr 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1979
Abstract
In recent years, forest fires have covered many parts of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). The fires often threaten populated areas and Indigenous communities as well. In 2020–2021, the fires caused enormous economic and environmental damage and the exact amount is yet to [...] Read more.
In recent years, forest fires have covered many parts of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). The fires often threaten populated areas and Indigenous communities as well. In 2020–2021, the fires caused enormous economic and environmental damage and the exact amount is yet to be fully calculated. Concerns about the sheer scale of carbon emissions into the atmosphere were widely discussed by world media. Social scientists of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) raised the following questions: how do Indigenous communities live in a condition of constant threat from annual forest fires? What environmental, social, and economic challenges do they face, what do they fear, and what are their expectations? We reviewed Indigenous traditional knowledge related to fire management and firefighting techniques and analyzed Indigenous peoples’ perceptions of changes in the ecological balance of water resources and permafrost. The authors also discuss the causes of forest fires, connections with industrial and transport development, and social consequences. The article is based on 2010–2021 field studies. Full article
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