Community perspectives on the environmental impacts of Arctic shipping : case studies from Russia, Norway and Canada
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionOlsen, J., Carter, N. A. & Dawson, J. (2019). Community perspectives on the environmental impacts of Arctic shipping: case studies from Russia, Norway and Canada. Cogent Social Sciences, 5: 1609189. doi: 10.1080/23311886.2019.1609189
Communities across the Arctic are experiencing growth in transiting, destination and domestic ship traffic. Environmental impacts resulting from Arctic shipping have been well documented, but little is known about how these impacts affect livelihoods and adaptive capacity of the local communities that are reliant on their natural landscapes. Given the heterogeneity of the Arctic, this study applied a community-based approach to empirically assess the impacts of shipping on the environment. Interviews were conducted in three island communities: Solovetsky in Russia (n = 24), Longyearbyen on Svalbard, Norway (n = 22) and Cambridge Bay, Canadian Arctic (n = 24). Despite differences in the trends of shipping activities that occur in each of the case study communities, there was consensus regarding significant environmental impacts from ship traffic on the natural environment, and that these in turn present a great concern for community livelihoods. The concerns differ greatly among the three communities and depended on the local context and perceptions and use of the natural environment. We conclude that the natural environment represents a salient determinant of adaptive capacity in the context of growing ship traffic across the Arctic. Moreover, this context-dependent determinant varies in the way it is perceived across case communities.