EU funded CHARTER project starts up

Prof. Bruce Forbes to coordinate a major international project

27.4.2020 13:15

Advancing adaptive capacity of Arctic communities. This is the aim for CHARTER, a new EU Horizon 2020 funded project, coordinated by Professor Bruce Forbes of Arctic Centre. The European Commission has just signed the papers and work can begin.

Ice crusts through the snow pack on the Yamal peninsula, making for very difficult reindeer grazing conditions.
Pic: Florian Stammler

CHARTER (Drivers and feedbacks of changes in Arctic terrestrial biodiversity) will run from 1.8.2020 and it will last four years. Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland is leading a team of 21 international partners and a budget of 5,9 million euros. The project is a global effort with partners from beyond the EU including Iceland, Greenland, Norway and Switzerland as well as from the United States, Canada, China and Russia.

-The very idea of the project is to make science and indigenous and local communities to meet and interact, says Professor Bruce Forbes. 

CHARTER is an ambitious effort to advance adaptive capacity of Arctic communities 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 and feedbacks. To achieve this goal, the project will combine expertise from Earth System sciences and biodiversity studies within a Social-Ecological Systems framework and strongly participatory approach.

Strategies co-developed in partnership with indigenous and local communities will comprise synergies between their ambitions for adaptation actions with novel forms of land management geared towards climate mitigation and sustainable development. The overall objective is improved understanding of Arctic change and how ecosystems and communities will navigate this change with implications for e.g. decision-makers, national and international climate/biodiversity policies, and reindeer governance. 

Arctic climate change facts are in the background of this 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 3-5°C by mid-century compared to 1986-2005 levels. This will have profound consequences for indigenous and local communities as well as Social-Ecological System resilience.

Periods of heavy icing of pastures can have deadly results for reindeer. Pictured here are victims of heavy icing. Pic: Roma Serotetto

CHARTER will work with Arctic communities to co-develop strategies and policy pathways for locally and regionally critical livelihoods and enhance adaptation. It also aims at projecting and simulating the effects of social-ecological changes for linked indigenous and local communities and traditional livelihoods sharing the affected territories, especially herding and hunting of large semi-domesticated and wild ungulate herds. In addition, the project aims at understanding 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, and with 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 informed by stakeholder perspectives of 21st century Arctic change, Professor Forbes summarizes. The policy options will be driven by co-production of knowledge with local communities, simultaneously accounting for global shifts, including climate change. 

Project website and contacts will be published after summer.

Photos in this press release are from Yamal. They are taken under very difficult conditions during rain-on-snow events in the remote tundra. The first one by Florian Stammler is a clear illustration of rain-on-snow event and the second one by Roma Serotetto shows reindeer frozen in the position (clustering together) in which they died. 

Additional information:

Research Professor Bruce Forbes
Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
bruce.forbes(at)ulapland.fi, +358 40 847 9202

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