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32nd Annual Arctic Workshop Abstracts
March 14-16, 2002
INSTAAR, University of Colorado at Boulder

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Kirk, Elizabeth . AAAS.
Moiseenko, Tatyana I.. IWP RAN.
Selin, Vladimir V.. IEP KSC.
Makarova, Zoya V.. INEP KSC.
Sandimirov, Sergei . INEP KSC.

A US-Russian research effort has been started in the Kola Peninsula to increase understanding of the interaction of human dynamics and ecosystem functions and explore development strategies to enhance ecosystem health, ecological sustainability and economic diversity. The project focuses on the Imandra Lake watershed.

The Imandra Lake watershed is located in one of the most developed regions in the Arctic - the Kola Peninsula of Russia (Fig.1). There are approximately 300 thousand people living on the watershed, which makes it one of the most densely populated areas in the Arctic. The unusually high population of this area can be attributed to two factors. One is the relatively warm climate influenced by the Gulf Stream. The second factor is the history of forced development of the territory in the 1930s-50s, when thousands of Gulag prisoners were brought in to provide labor for the extractive industry. Most of the people who live there are still involved in the large-scale extraction and processing of minerals and in the infrastructures needed to support it.

The human impact in the region has been quite massive. On vast territories we find radioactive and chemical contamination by human and industrial wastes, deforestation caused by acidification, and other degradation from human activity (NEFCO, 1996). Industrialization of the area is associated with huge tailings, landfills, increased risks of nuclear and chemical accidents, and high loads of contaminants harmful to humans as well as to many other organisms.

The Interactive Assessment Approach

For the Imandra Lake watershed we are developing site-specific databases and models that overlay and integrate the following types of data:

1. Biogeochemical cycles of the watersheds (hydrology);

2. Population consumption patterns including land use, mineral extraction, water use, food production and consumption (by different ethnic groups and sectors of the society) with some description of indigenous knowledge of populations living in the region before large-scale development began (demographics, ethnology, sociology);

3. Contaminant transport information and water quality;

4. Global change in the region and expected impacts;

5. Economic assessment of ecosystem goods and services and costs of pollution control;

6. Ecosystem health indicators (fish stocks, water quality, erosion control, human health, etc.);

7. Scenarios developed by regional stakeholders that look specifically at their needs.

The emphasis of the interviews and workshops is to involve the stakeholders in the process from the very beginning and develop through their discussions models of economic and social dynamics. The stakeholder workshops and the data collected feed into a modeling process that is based on the Landscape Modeling Approach (LMA) developed at the University of Maryland?s Institute for Ecological Economics (IEE) and currently adapted for Arctic environments and transitional economies. The IEE has been developing the capability to model watersheds as spatially explicit, integrated, ecological economic systems (Fig.2). The LMA has been implemented in a number of case studies, including the Florida Everglades (, the Patuxent watershed (see: and its subwatersheds, Hunting Creek in particular (see (Voinov, et al., 1999).

We assume a broad definition of a model, in that in most of our modeling studies we are always dealing with qualitative and quantitative models simultaneously. These include:

- Data models that are based on measurements and experiments;

- Qualitative, conceptual frameworks of systems and processes involved;

- Quantitative numeric models that are used to formalize our qualitative models;

- Mathematical methods and models used to analyze the numeric models and interpret the results;

- Decision-making models that transform our values and knowledge into actions.

Our goal then is to integrate these models within a transparent and interactive framework that allows participation of stakeholders in all the stages of the process, that integrates their individual models into the overall structure, and organizes the stakeholders? community helping them communicate understanding, values, and concerns. Most important is not a unique model implementation that is developed, but rather an ongoing process of integrated assessment.

Development Alternatives

Over the last hundred years, human activity, begun as fishing, reindeer herding, fur trade and gold mining, and evolving in the 1930s to mineral extraction and urbanization, has produced land use changes that have altered Arctic landscapes in ways that scientists are just beginning to understand. Because of recent economic collapse in the area, mineral extraction activities have decreased substantially, thereby decreasing the major point sources of pollution in the Imandra Lake watershed. Over 160,000 people have left the Kola, leaving a population of approximately one million inhabitants. Moiseenko (2000) observes that this slowdown has led to much improved water quality and watershed recovery that is faster than assumed in the Arctic. Some recent field studies confirm these estimates. For example in Fig. 3 we compare the distribution of nickel concentrations in the surface waters of Lake Imandra, averaged over 9 lake compartments. Ni is the major pollutant discharged by the Severo-Nickel enterprise in Monchegorsk. It is yet to be estimated how fast this recovery is propagating throughout the lake trophic chains, however it is already clear that the economic meltdown was beneficial to the ecological components of the system. At the same time the reaction of the socio-economic components was quite adverse, they hardly benefited from the ecological recovery.

The integration of the economy into the world market has entirely changed the demand patterns for the major products delivered by the region. Whereas under planned economy most of the production was secured for domestic consumption, now the regional economy became much dependent on world market situation. The integration of the Kola North into the free-market system will be a painful process. It is not yet clear whether the industries will be able to keep the competitive edge, bearing in mind their remote location, high transportation prices, cold climate, that requires huge spending for heating and lighting during the Polar night. There are also examples when development is not so much dependent on industrial growth. For example, a switch to a free-market, capitalist system may lead residents to assume more traditional economic structures. Analysis is required to suggest whether there are multiple strategies that local residents can utilize to achieve economic self-sufficiency or if there is a single adaptive strategy that stakeholders can utilize to transition to new economic forms.

A series of problems in the Imandra watershed are associated with demographic and social aspects. Aging of population is now a typical trend for the North. The number of retired people here at the beginning of 1992 was 167.7 per 1000, in 1996 - 208.5. At the same time the financial resources directed for social security have diminished and in 1996 they were 64% of 1990 level, and the estimate for 1997 is 62% (Luzin, et al, 1999). In terms of social security the region has never been, and is even less self-sufficient now. At the same time the collapse of many social security programs has dramatically decreased the ability of pensioners to leave the area. The migratory patterns are characterized by a sharp decrease in newcomers.

The whole issue of sustainability is a hard one for the area. It is not clear if sustainability can really be the issue for this region at all. Today it would probably make more sense to be concerned with design of adaptive management strategies, than should result in sustainable systems in the future.

Using existing data analyses, maps and other sources we can model the economic and ecological development of the system up till today. Then, three ?alternative? frameworks will be examined that take into account past, present, and future notions of development:

1. Scenarios, which go back to redeveloping the same kind of resource extraction and processing industries that developed over the past 60 years or so ? the ?business as usual? scenarios.

2. Scenarios, which look at more sustainable economic development ? the ?best management practices? (BMP) scenarios.

3. Scenarios, which include some of the nomadic economic sustainability concepts found in early Saami, Nenets, Pomor, and other indigenous groups (Krasovskaya, 1998) ? the ?eco-alternative? scenarios.

As a result we are developing conceptual frameworks and interdisciplinary models linking human dynamics with Arctic ecosystem functions. The research, databases, and integrated models can then be used for educational and policy-making purposes in addition to its integration into Arctic System Science research. Moreover, we intend to set up a framework for the process of dialogue among various stakeholders, which will contribute to consensus building on development scenarios and measurable steps towards ecological sustainability in the region.

At this time there are certainly more open questions than answers available. We are assembling the data sets, formulating the major model hypotheses, and starting the stakeholder workshop process to elicit feedback and ensure future involvement of the stakeholders in the research process and its results. The project web site is, there is also a mirror site in the Kola and we intend to make most of the results and data sets available thorugh these web sites.

Krasovskaya, T.M., 1998. Cultural Landscape of Far-Northern Regions of Russia as a Basis for Sustainable Development. In: Cultural Landscape: Problems of Theory and Research Methodology. (in Russian), Smolensk State University, Smolensk, p.45-71.

Luzin, G.P., Selin, V.S., et al., 1999. Stability and Economic Security in Regions: Trends, Criteria, Regulation Mechanism. Apatity, Kola Science Center, 174 p. (In Russian).

Moiseenko, T., 2000. The Imandra Lake Watershed: The contradictions of ecological and economic interests, Presentation at the 2000 AAAS Annual Meeting, Washington, DC.

NEFCO (Nordic Environmental Finance Corporation), 1995. Proposals for Environmentally Sound investment projects in the Russian Part of the Barents Region, Vols. I and II. Oslo: AMAP Expert Group. December.

Voinov, A., R. Costanza, L. Wainger, R. Boumans, F. Villa, T. Maxwell and H. Voinov, 1999. Patuxent landscape model: integrated ecological economic modeling of a watershed. Journal of Ecosystem Modelling and Software: 14, 473-491.


Figure 1. Geolocation of the Imandra Lake watershed

Figure 2. Major modules involved in the Landscape Modeling Approach

Figure 3. Comparison of Ni concentration is Lake Imandra waters in 1992 and 2001. Based on annual monitoring of water quality in the surface and bottom layers at 28 sampling stations on the Lake


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