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Engineering Nature under Climate Change – Implications of Assisted Migration on Sustainable Development in Mountain Ranges
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The Planet has entered a new epoch - the Anthropocene; where human activities, such as mining for and burning of fossil fuels, land-use change, and industrialization are actively disrupting the planet’s state. The rate at which climate change is occurring as a result of human activity is unprecedented in recent millennia and poses many threats through drastic changes in rain fall patterns, rising sea level, retreating glaciers, and an increase in extreme weather events. Mountain ranges and the plant and animal species that thrive in specific ‘life zones’ on the mountain slope are particularly vulnerable to the threats posed by climate change. As temperatures increase, these ‘life zones’ will essentially shift upwards - and flora and fauna either adapt to warmer conditions, or migrate to avoid extinction. This begs the questions, where will species retreat to when there is nowhere further up the mountain to migrate? Assisted migration has been proposed as a potential solution for species unable to adapt to climate change or unable to migrate, and involves the deliberate interference of humans in relocating species to habitats, outside their historic range, in hopes of preventing the species from going extinct.

I examined key patterns within assisted migration research from peer-reviewed literature, to highlight the current state of assisted migration research and debate. My aim is to identify whether research favored certain species or geographic locations, to highlight the ethical dilemmas associated with engineering nature, and the potential assisted migration has for sustainable development in mountain ranges. I conducted a literature review and content analysis of 68 journal articles. The results suggest that assisted migration research is heavily debated from scientific, ethical, political and economic perspectives; with a largely theoretical debate and with limited transfer into field experiments. Furthermore, there is an element of bias in research focusing on plant species of economic value as opposed to other species. Moreover, many ethical dilemmas in assisted migration research exist, but no consensus as to whether assisted migration is ethically justifiable. Lastly, I suggest there could be potential for assisted migration for sustainable development in mountain ranges, however there is a need for inter/transdisciplinary research to collaborate in implementing assisted migration.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , 45 p.
Series
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 2017/12
Keyword [en]
Sustainable development, assisted migration, climate change, biodiversity, mountain ranges, ethics, debate
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-324297OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-324297DiVA: diva2:1109481
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
Presentation
2017-05-29, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 11:25 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-06-14 Created: 2017-06-14 Last updated: 2017-06-14Bibliographically approved

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