Synergies and trade-offs between provisioning and climate-regulating ecosystem services in reindeer herding ecosystems

Bjerke J.W., Magnussen K., Bright R.M., Navrud S., Erlandsson R., Finne E.A. & Tømmervik H.
Science of the Total Environment
927: 171914 [13 p.]
Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) pastoralism utilizes vast boreo-arctic taiga and tundra as grazing land. Highly fluctuating population sizes pose major challenges to the economy and livelihood of indigenous herder communities. In this study we investigated the effect of population fluctuations on core provisioning and regulating ecosystem services in two Sámi reindeer herding districts with contrasting fluctuation trends. We compared 50-year long time series on herd size, meat production, forage productivity, carbon footprint, and CO2-equivalence metrics for surface albedo change based on the radiative forcing concept. Our results show, for both districts, that the economic benefits from the provisioning services were higher than the costs from the regulating services. Still, there were major contrasts; the district with moderate and stable reindeer density gained nearly the double on provisioning services per unit area. The costs from increasing heat absorption due to reduction in surface albedo caused by replacement of high-reflective lichens with low-reflective woody plants, was 10.5 times higher per unit area in the district with large fluctuations. Overall, the net economic benefits per unit area were 237 % higher in the district with stable reindeer density. These results demonstrate that it is possible to minimize trade-offs between economic benefits from reindeer herding locally and global economic costs in terms of climate-regulating services by minimizing fluctuations in herds that are managed at sustainable densities. Keywords: Albedo ; Climate mitigation ; Pastoralism ; Radiative forcing ; Rangeland management ; Vegetation change.
Monday, 20 May 2024 12:45