(Anja Kristine Salo/Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, 09 October 2012) -- 130 representatives from the government, indigenous peoples and business met in Tromsø on September 10 to discuss extractive industries in the Barents Region, an area where indigenous peoples have lived their traditional life for centuries. "It is huge uncertainty connected to what's happening up north. The indigenous peoples' opinions are not taken into account as often as we would have wanted. This is a great problem," says the President of the Norwegian Sami Parliament, Mr. Egil Olli. He is one of the participants at the seminar arranged by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the Working group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region. Scientists, representatives from the mining industry, local, regional and national government officials were also present at the seminar. Many sensitive, difficult and important question and challenges facing member states, indigenous peoples and business entities in the Barents region were addressed at the seminar. "We face a great risk of evolving conflicts between states, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders in this bonanza of oil, natural gas, minerals and plentiful waters in the Arctic. The indigenous peoples in the Arctic have to find the equilibrium in this boom and tackle these challenges, hopefully in co-operation with the national states, business entities, UN and other, regional and international bodies," says Lars Anders Baer, Chairman of the Working group of Indigenous peoples in the Barents Region. The State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that the indigenous peoples must be consulted.
Posted 12 October 2012; 4:38:30 PM. Permalink
(Asle Rønning/ScienceNordic, 6 October 2012) -- Norway’s Arctic Archipelago Svalbard gets some unseasonal rains now and then in winter. When it rains enough to soak through the snow and freeze against the topsoil, grass and other vegetation becomes hard for herbivores to reach. Two very different species are significantly affected by these rainfalls in the winter: the Svalbard reindeer and the sibling vole, which is Svalbard’s only rodent and only other mammalian land herbivore. The common factor impacting both stocks is winter rain, or the lack of it, according to a new study published in Biology Letters by scientists in Norway and Scotland. As the planet heats up, so far most in the polar regions, the Arctic is expected to get more rain in the season when powder snow would be expected. The study indicates that climate changes can have massive consequences on the entire Arctic ecosystem. This year with much more rain than average, calves of the Svalbard reindeer have a significantly smaller chance of survival and stocks of the sibling vole (Microtus kuis) are expected to plunge. On the Norwegian mainland in Finnmark County, well north of the Polar Circle, wet winter precipitation that freezes and locks vegetation under a sheet of ice is also known to aggravate reindeer browsing. “The Sami who maintain reindeer herds are familiar with this problem. What’s special about Svalbard is that this greatly impacts the voles. So it’s affecting large and small alike,” says one of the researchers behind the study, Audun Stien at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). Stien says that last winter, which wasn’t included in the study, was yet another with lots of winter rain. “Permafrost is what’s special about Svalbard. When the rain soaks down through the snow it freezes against frozen soil,” he says. Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) is a subspecies of reindeer found only on Svalbard.
Posted 12 October 2012; 4:13:30 PM. Permalink
(Emily Schwing/KUAC - Fairbanks via Eye on the Arctic, 11 October 2012) -- The Arctic Village of Kivalina may run out of fresh water this winter. Governor Sean Parnell declared a disaster in the village last month after heavy rainfall flooded the Wulik River and washed away some of the city's surface water piping. By the time the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management had shipped a new high speed pump and pipe to the community, it was too late according to City Administrator, Janet Mitchell. Slush clogged the pipes and the crew gave up. It's not clear how much water made it into the tanks. Mitchell, who grew up in Kivalina, says residents have always tried to conserve water. But the majority of Kivalina's 436 residents don't have boats or snowmachines to access large quantities of fresh drinking water. So they use the local washeteria. It's unlikely to remain open through the winter.
Posted 12 October 2012; 3:19:17 PM. Permalink
(Voice of Russia, 12 October 2012) -- On Wednesday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended a keel-laying ceremony of the diesel-powered icebreaker LK-25 in St. Petersburg. Industry experts say the keel-laying of the new generation icebreaker marks a new stage in Russia’s exploration of the Arctic region. The state-of-the-art diesel-powered icebreaker LK-25 of ice class Icebreaker 8 will replace the old icebreakers, which were built in the 1980s. With the capacity of 25 MW the new icebreaker will be capable of sailing the most difficult conditions of the Kara Sea, in any ice situation. The new ship laid at the Baltic shipbuilding plant of the United Shipbuilding Corporation will be completed in 2017. Currently, Russia is also building other new icebreakers. The ships called Moscow and St. Petersburg were laid down 6 years ago but their capacity is much smaller than that of the LK-25 ship. In terms of capacity the LK-25 project is a milestone. And the largest ever project in the history of Russia’s shipbuilding industry is scheduled for 2013. The LK-60 nuclear icebreaker with the capacity of 60 megawatt will cost almost 40 billion rubles (more than one billion dollars) This vessel will be capable of sailing in the northernmost and easternmost parts of the Arctic region. This means that Russia will be able to solve strategic tasks in any part of the Arctic Ocean. We hear from Igor Ostretsov, the deputy director for science of the All-Russia Research Center of Nuclear Machine-Building. "The Soviet Union was an undisputable leader in building of icebreakers. We always had the advantage in the Arctic region. Now those icebreakers are getting old and we are renewing the fleet. It is very important to secure Russia’s presence in the Arctic areas, which always belonged to us, now when many other countries are eyeing the Arctic region. An icebreaking fleet is the most important tool there." Russia’s neighbors on the Arctic region are continuing to dispute Moscow’s claims on the Arctic shelf, which rich reserves attract even non-Arctic states such as Japan and Malaysia. Russia is continuing to explore the area to define the shelf borders and to apply a new request to the UN. Alongside the renewal of the icebreaking fleet the construction of new research ships is underway. On Wednesday, a new scientific research ship Academic Tryoshnikov was made operational. The industry experts say that in terms of its icebreaking capabilities it is superior to the Academic Fyodorov research ship. With the new research ship of this class Russia will be able to win back the leading position in scientific explorations of the Arctic region, Medvedev said Wednesday.
Posted 12 October 2012; 2:50:55 PM. Permalink
(CBC North, 5 October 2012) -- The United States is again lobbying for an international ban on the trade of polar bear parts, after a previous attempt failed in 2010. Officials have submitted a proposal to reclassify the animals under Appendix I — as a species threatened with extinction — of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or CITES. That would shut down the commercial trade of hides, teeth and claws. It would also effectively shut down international polar bear sport hunts. This is the second time the U.S. has tried to get a ban on the international trade of polar bear parts. In 2010, the first American proposal was defeated at a meeting in Qatar. Nunavut Tunngavik, the Nunavut land claims organization, is outraged by the move. "The polar bear population is very healthy right now and traditional knowledge says that the numbers are increasing,” said NTI vice-president James Eeteelook. Canada is home to about two-thirds of the world’s 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Terry Audla said he was disappointed by the American proposal.
Posted 12 October 2012; 11:46:10 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 October 2012) -- One man in Norman Wells is transforming his town into the potato capital of the N.W.T., harvesting 30,000 pounds of the vegetable this year from his farm about 130 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. For seven years Doug Whiteman has experimented with fertilizers, frost, top soil and timing on three acres bordering a grass airstrip. The short growing season and cold temperatures make growing vegetables a challenge. Government grants have covered three quarters of the cost of the seeds and harvesting equipment but he’s spent thousands out of his own pocket and may finally make a profit this year. “The main thing is to show it is possible,” he said. “You always think of moose, caribou, berries — this is food from the land also.” His grandchildren help pick potatoes in the field, his daughter helps him sort and does sales while he’s away, and his son helps him with deliveries. Whiteman sells to residents and businesses, for whom fresh produce is a welcome change, and even to boats travelling along the Mackenzie River. Jeff Gilroy runs the Yamouri Inn in Norman Wells and goes through more than 100 pounds of potatoes a week. Buying locally saves the cost of shipping by air or winter road, as there is no all-season road to the town with a population of about 800.
Posted 12 October 2012; 11:44:55 AM. Permalink