2024
  • Non-ICIMOD publication

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Socioecological dynamics of diverse global permafrost-agroecosystems under environmental change

  • Melissa Ward Jones
  • Joachim Otto Habeck
  • Mathias Ulrich
  • Susan Crate
  • Glenna Gannon
  • Tobias Schwoerer
  • Benjamin Jones
  • Mikhail Kanevskiy
  • Prashant Baral
  • Amina Maharjan
  • Jakob Steiner
  • Andrew Spring
  • Mindy Jewell Price
  • David Bysouth
  • Bruce C. Forbes
  • Mariana Verdonen
  • Timo Kumpula
  • Jens Strauss
  • Torben Windirsch
  • Christopher Poeplau
  • Yuri Shur
  • Benjamin Gaglioti
  • Nicholas Parlato
  • Fulu Tao
  • Merritt Turetsky
  • Stephanie Grand
  • Adrian Unc
  • Nils Borchard
  • Summary

Permafrost-agroecosystems include all cultivation and pastoral activities in areas underlain by permafrost. These systems support local livelihoods and food production and are rarely considered in global agricultural studies but may become more relevant as climate change is increasing opportunities for food production in high latitude and mountainous areas. The exact locations and amount of agricultural production in areas containing permafrost are currently unknown, therefore we provide an overview of countries where both permafrost and agricultural activities are present. We highlight the socioecological diversity and complexities of permafrost-agroecosystems through seven case studies: (1) crop cultivation in Alaska, USA; (2) Indigenous food systems and crop cultivation in the Northwest Territories, Canada; (3) horse and cattle husbandry and Indigenous hay production in the Sakha Republic, Russia; (4) mobile pastoralism and husbandry in Mongolia; (5) yak pastoralism in the Central Himalaya, Nepal; (6) berry picking and reindeer herding in northern Fennoscandia; and (7) reindeer herding in northwest Russia. We discuss regional knowledge gaps associated with permafrost and make recommendations to policy makers and land users for adapting to changing permafrost environments. A better understanding of permafrost-agroecosystems is needed to help sustainably manage and develop these systems considering rapidly changing climate, environments, economies, and industries.