Respect for the Arctic ecosystem

Preserving the delicate Arctic ecosystem has long been a priority for Nordic cooperation, and in recent years, the accelerating impact of climate change has constituted an overarching issue in all Nordic activities in the region. PLANET addresses everything from biodiversity conservation and sustainable utilisation of marine resources to new energy solutions, less polluting ship traffic and sustainable cities.

Extensive data on marine tourism

The Nordic Arctic Cooperation Programme has supported a large number of projects conducted by the Arctic Council’s six working groups, including the group on Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME). One of the more notable outcomes is PAME’s Arctic Ship Traffic Data (ASTD), which provides data about all shipping activities in the Arctic region, including information on the type of ships, their routes and destinations, and detailed data on fuel consumption and emissions.

“This is a major turning point, as the data allows us to produce much more detailed insights into ship traffic and marine tourism in the Arctic,” says PAME Project Manager Hjalti Hreinsson. Arctic Marine Tourism: Shipping Analysis and Best Practice Guidelines, a project supported by the Nordic Arctic Cooperation Programme, will be utilising the data to analyse the latest trends in marine tourism and build knowledge on this rapidly growing sector of the Arctic economy.

“The data is very useful when it comes to monitoring ship traffic, developing infrastructure and addressing search and rescue issues. Moreover, we can calculate the pollution coming from the ship traffic, based on data about vessel size, speed and the type of fuel used. This information will allow for better regulation of the pollution and the shipping activities in the Arctic waters.”

Traditional knowledge for sustainability

The value of traditional knowledge in managing the Arctic ecosystem and responding to environmental and climate change has been demonstrated through numerous projects and research initiatives. The latest in line of Nordic projects on this topic is eXchanging Knowledge, which aims to establish direct contact and knowledge exchange between local communities in Greenland, Finland and selected Sámi areas.

“eXchanging Knowledge builds on experience from previous efforts to document the observations by local and indigenous hunters, fishermen and reindeer herders,” says Tero Mustonen of the Snowchange Cooperative in Finland. “These people spend most of their time in nature and possess knowledge and insights that are invaluable to Arctic ecosystem management.”

The communities have shared their observations of changes in the marine ecosystems, including information on marine species, marine pollution and changes in snow and ice conditions. One of the most drastic changes observed is the loss of sea ice in Greenland, severely limiting the possibilities for hunting, while in Finland, the project has focused on restoring salmon and trout habitats that are threatened as a result of the warmer Arctic summers.

“These community-based exchanges culminated in the Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions in 2018, which brought together indigenous and local fishermen from more than 120 villages across the Arctic to discuss cultural heritage, climate change and ecological restoration.”

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