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Future changes in the supply of goods and services from natural ecosystems: prospects for the European north

Roland Jansson, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeċ University
Christer Nilsson, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeċ University
E. Carina H. Keskitalo, Department of Geography and Economic History, Umeċ University
Tatiana Vlasova, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences
Marja-Liisa Sutinen, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Rovaniemi Research Unit
Jon Moen, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeċ University
F. Stuart Chapin III, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Kari Anne Brċthen, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, UiT- The Arctic University of Norway
Mar Cabeza, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki
Terry V. Callaghan, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden; Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK; Department of Botany, Tomsk State University, Russia
Bob van Oort, CICERO - Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo
Halvor Dannevig, Western Norway Research Institute
Ingrid A. Bay-larsen, Nordland Research Institute
Rolf A. Ims, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, UiT- The Arctic University of Norway
Paul Eric Aspholm, Bioforsk, Svanhovd


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Humans depend on services provided by ecosystems, and how services are affected by climate change is increasingly studied. Few studies, however, address changes likely to affect services from seminatural ecosystems. We analyzed ecosystem goods and services in natural and seminatural systems, specifically how they are expected to change as a result of projected climate change during the 21st century. We selected terrestrial and freshwater systems in northernmost Europe, where climate is anticipated to change more than the global average, and identified likely changes in ecosystem services and their societal consequences. We did this by assembling experts from ecology, social science, and cultural geography in workshops, and we also performed a literature review. Results show that most ecosystem services are affected by multiple factors, often acting in opposite directions. Out of 14 services considered, 8 are expected to increase or remain relatively unchanged in supply, and 6 are expected to decrease. Although we do not predict collapse or disappearance of any of the investigated services, the effects of climate change in conjunction with potential economical and societal changes may exceed the adaptive capacity of societies. This may result in societal reorganization and changes in ways that ecosystems are used. Significant uncertainties and knowledge gaps in the forecast make specific conclusions about societal responses to safeguard human well-being questionable. Adapting to changes in ecosystem services will therefore require consideration of uncertainties and complexities in both social and ecological responses. The scenarios presented here provide a framework for future studies exploring such issues.

Key words

Barents Region; biodiversity; climate change; ecosystem services; forestry; game species; outdoor recreation; reindeer husbandry; social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087