Understanding Human and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Kola Arctic : A Participatory Integrated Study
Keywords:watershed analysis, Kola, ecological economics, adaptive management, development scenarios
The Lake Imandra watershed is located in one of the most developed regions in the Arctic - the Kola Peninsula of Russia. Approximately 300 000 people live on the roughly 27 000 km² watershed, making it one of the most densely populated areas of the Arctic. Most of the people are involved in large-scale mineral extraction and processing and the infrastructure needed to support this industry. This paper reports the results of a pilot project staged for the Lake Imandra watershed that has put human dynamics within the framework of ecosystem change to integrate available information and formulate conceptual models of likely future scenarios. The observation period is one of both rapid economic growth and human expansion, with an overall economic decline in the past decade. We are applying the Participatory Integrated Assessment (PIA) approach to integrate information, identify information gaps, generate likely future scenarios, and link scientific findings to the decision-making process. We found an increasingly vulnerable human population in varying states of awareness about their local environment and fully cognizant of their economic troubles, with many determined to attempt maintenance of relatively high population densities in the near future even as many residents of northern Russia migrate south. A series of workshops have involved the citizens and local decision makers in an attempt to tap their knowledge of the region and to increase their awareness about the linkages between the socioeconomic and ecological components.