Social-ecological timelines to explore human adaptation to coastal change
Through the construction of a socio-ecological timeline for the Porsanger fjord ecosystem, this article illustrates the different ways in which environmental and social–ecological changes have influenced the adaptations of rural households in coastal Sami communities in Finnmark, north Norway. The main finding is that, although environmental change in the form of seal invasions and dwindling fish stocks directly impacted the fisheries, the introduction of a new vessel quota system decisively changed adaptive capacity and coastal Sami household adaptation strategies. These changes represented a tipping point for the social–ecological system in the period between 1986 and 1990. It is thus important to discuss the ways in which governance systems may facilitate actions to adapt to climate and biodiversity change and foster sustainable rural livelihood systems in coastal Norway. Based on traditional and local ecological knowledge on the state of the ecosystem prior to the tipping point, two relevant actions to increase the resilience of the system were identified: ensuring the possibility of re-entry into fisheries as part of rural livelihood combinations, and ecological restoration of kelp beds. Flexible diversification of livelihoods allows exploitation of a range of adjacent species without large investments in a fossile fuel-driven fisheries economy. Investing in regrowth of macroalgae to foster cod nursery areas and increase carbon sequestration can be a relevant alternative for communities that are interested in contributing to climate change mitigation on a larger scale.