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Sustainability science policy paper wins award

Submitted by Marie Gilbert
Phone: 907-474-7412


The Ecological Society of America presented the organization's sustainability science award to F. Stuart "Terry" Chapin III of the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for the paper, "Policy Strategies to Address Sustainability of Alaskan Boreal Forests in Response to a Directionally Changing Climate" published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.

Sustainability science focuses on how people can improve their livelihoods while at the same time conserving ecological services such as food, clean water, climate regulation and recreation that are crucial to human well-being. "This paper is a summary of my efforts to put together various approaches to sustainability science and to redefine sustainability in a world where everything is changing," said Chapin, professor of ecology.

Using Interior Alaska's boreal forests as a case study, Chapin and an interdisciplinary team of ecologists, anthropologists, an economist, a historian and a political scientist integrated several different sources of theory to address sustainability, applied this framework to climate change effects in boreal forests and described policy strategies that emerged from the analyses.

"This paper developed a policy framework relevant to the needs of rural Alaska, which represent a microcosm of many of the issues facing third-world nations and the sustainability of the planet," Chapin said. "If anyplace has a chance of making a rural lifestyle sustainable, Alaska has the financial and human resources to do things right, if we can figure out the right things to do."

The award, presented Monday at ESA's 93rd annual meeting, recognizes significant scholarly contributions to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences. The award also recognizes research results that provide scientific foundations for sustainable management, link human and ecological systems and advance sustainability science.

Co-authors are: Amy L. Lovecraft, UAF Department of Political Science; Erika S. Zavaleta and Joanna Nelson, University of California, Santa Cruz; Martin D. Robards, IAB Resilience and Adaptation Program; Gary P. Kofinas, IAB and UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences; Sarah F. Trainor, IAB; Garry Peterson, McGill University; Henry P. Huntington, Eagle River, Alaska; and Rosamond L. Naylor, Stanford University.

Financial support was provided by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station.

This paper is part of a special series of inaugural articles by newly elected members of the National Academy of Sciences. Chapin was elected to the NAS in 2004 and was Alaska's first member.

CONTACT: F. Stuart "Terry" Chapin III, professor of ecology, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 907-474-7922, terry.chapin@uaf.edu. Marie Gilbert, information officer, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 907-474-7412, marie.gilbert@uaf.edu.

Ecological Society of America
Faculty page for F. Stuart "Terry" Chapin III
Institute of Arctic Biology
"Policy Strategies to Address Sustainability of Alaskan Boreal Forests in Response to a Directionally Changing Climate"

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