CC5: Resilience and management of Arctic wetlands: a social-ecological systems approachpdf

Date: Thursday October 11, 2018

Location: Erottaja, ELY

Time: 13:30-15:00

Wetlands are crucially important for fostering and protecting biodiversity, and play an important role in the sustainable development of the Arctic in their relation to climate change, adaption, ecosystems services and livelihood for indigenous and local people. While a significant portion of the planet’s wetlands areas are found in the Arctic region, surprisingly little is known about their status, the relative success of management interventions, and of the efforts to regulate human activities that impact wetlands to protect them and the biodiversity they support. This session aims to get an overview of what is known about Arctic wetlands areas, clarify where key knowledge gaps are, and develop a social-ecological systems analysis to identify measures that can be expanded to better manage Arctic wetlands areas.


Chairs: David Schönberg Alm, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency; Marcus Carson, Stockholm Environmental Institute; Magnus Land, Stockholm Environmental Institute

Format: Series of presentations followed by moderated discussion


  1. Resilience and Management of Arctic Wetlands - a project overview: David Schönberg Alm, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and Magnus Land, Stockholm Environmental Institute pdf
  2. Resilience and Management of Arctic Wetlands - a phase 2 overview: David Schönberg Alm, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and Marcus Carson, Stockholm Environmental Institute pdf
  3. Arctic coastal wetlands – critical Arctic ecosystems with an uncertain future: Donald McLennan, Polar Knowledge Canada - Canadian High Arctic Research Station pdf
  4. Arctic Wetlands – an outlook from a global perspective, Tobias Salathe, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands pdf



Resilience and Management of Arctic Wetlands - a project overview

David Schönberg Alm Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and Magnus Land, Stockholm Environmental Institute

As it is clear that knowledge about the status of Arctic wetlands, including, inter alia, the effectivness of management efforts, a CAFF project lead by Sweden was launched in 2017. In its initial phase, a scoping study has been carried out to enhance the state of knowledge on the status of Arctic wetlands and the effect climate change have on them. The stree stage project is aiming at producing policy recommendations to support measures and further develop management strategies to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services including reduction of anthropogenically induced greenhouse gas emissions, improve climate adaptation and explore possibilities for sustainable use, especially for indigenous peoples. There is a need to enhance engagement in relation to the roles and functions of Arctic wetlands as a resource to support sustainable development and resilience in the region, as well as to put the centre of attention on the conservation of biodiversity, adaptation and resilience of ecosystems and their services including climate change mitigation, as critical components of sustainable development and thereby emphasise the major role wetlands play.


Resilience and Management of Arctic Wetlands - a phase 2 overview

David Schönberg Alm Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and Marcus Carson, Stockholm Environmental Institute

In its second phase, the project is aiming to identify case studies, where good examples of management could provide a basis for effective policy interventions. This step could also identify a number of regional hot-spots and management opportunities. An overview of phase 2 plans of the CAFF project is presented, with a particular emphasis on urgent questions and potentially actionable insights.


Arctic coastal wetlands – critical Arctic ecosystems with an uncertain future

Donald McLennan, Polar Knowledge Canada - Canadian High Arctic Research Station

Although it is now well documented and accepted that the Arctic is warming at double the rate of southern latitudes, what is not well known is exactly how these dramatic changes are impacting Arctic biodiversity now, and how these ongoing and accelerating effects will interact to impact Arctic biodiversity in the future. In the Canadian Arctic, coastal wetlands range in size from small patches located along rocky and low relief shores, to medium sized ecosystems at the mouths of small rivers and in complex association with coastal lagoon systems, to extensive swaths at the distal ends of estuaries of major rivers. Compared to adjacent upland ecosystems, Arctic coastal ecosystems are highly productive and provide critical habitat for staging and resident waterfowl and shorebirds, for hunting areas for land based predators and raptors, as nurseries for coastal fish populations, and as rich seasonal foraging areas for important ungulates such as caribou and muskoxen. Coastal wetlands owe their existence and productivity to the deposition of nutrient-rich sediment from adjacent freshwater inputs and coastal processes, deposition that interacts with daily tidal inundation and the erosive and land building effects of coastal waves and currents. It is now becoming evident that, with climate-driven warming, almost all of these factors are changing. River discharge is increasing, is occurring earlier, and is transporting increasing amounts of sediment and nutrients as active layers deepen, thermokarst erosion increases, and river banks are increasingly subject to massive failure. In coastal areas sea levels are rising, sea ice has a shorter season, winds and storminess are increasing, and coastal landforms are failing at increasing rates. The uncertainty and complexity of these changes makes it very difficult to predict how they will interact to impact the productivity and distribution of coastal wetlands, making a strong case for the prioritization of these ecosystems for long term monitoring. This presentation will describe coastal wetland ecosystems in Ivvavik National Park along the Yukon Slope adjacent to the southern Beaufort Sea, and will describe the establishment of a long term monitoring program designed to track change in these important ecosystems. This work meets several of the ABC goals, in particular, the implementation of ABA policy recommendations around monitoring, the inclusion of global monitoring programs, facilitation of interdisciplinary discussions, and by increasing the visibility of CAFF and the Arctic Council as a leading voice of Arctic biodiversity research and monitoring.

Arctic Wetlands – an outlook from a global perspective

Tobias Salathe, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

By the time of the Arctic Biodiversity Congress, the Convention on Wetlands publishes the “Global Wetland Outlook”, a science-based overview to summarize global wetland extent, trends and drivers of change; a guidebook to create awareness and concern; and a purposefully illustrated brochure to demonstrate specific steps how to maintain and restore wetland ecosystem services for our livelihoods and for sustainable development. The expert analysis provides many references and a rich bibliography – but not many illustrations of Arctic Wetland cases. Is it true that Arctic Wetlands suffer from a “Cinderella Syndrome”? The project on resilience and management of Arctic Wetlands focuses on the right spots to identify our main gaps in awareness, understanding and policy responses. What roles do different Arctic Wetlands play in global processes? Processes of climate-relevant emissions, freshwater flows and biodiversity support. Arctic Wetlands as habitats for specifically adapted species, of which a few are resident and many more migrating, of which a few are important parts of the livelihoods of Arctic peoples, and many more a significant part of the shared natural heritage of our Planet. Human land uses shaped Arctic Wetlands to some extent. How will the looming changes in land and sea uses and forestry modify Arctic Wetlands and their resources? What lessons can we learn from the first Global Wetland Outlook? Which are the perspectives that are likely to influence global balances and the trends that will go far beyond the Arctic?

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