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Report No.
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Expansion of agriculture in northern cold-climate regions; A Cross-sectoral perspective on opportunities and challenges

Unc, A.*; Altdorff, D.*; Abakumov, E.*; Adl, S.*; Baldursson, S.*; Bechtold, M.*; Cattani, D. J.*; Firbank, L. G.*; Grand, S.*; Gudjonsdottir, M.*; Kallenbach, C.*; Kedir, A. J.*; Li, P.*; McKenzie, D. B.*; Misra, D.*; Nagano, Hirohiko  ; Neher, D. A.*; Niemi, J.*; Oelbermann, M.*; Lehmann, J. O.*; Parsons, D.*; Quideau, S.*; Sharkhuu, A.*; Smreczak, B.*; Sorvali, J.*; Vallotton, J. D.*; Whalen, J. K.*; Young, E. H.*; Zhang, M.*; Borchard, N.*

Agriculture in the boreal and Arctic regions is perceived as marginal, low intensity and inadequate to satisfy the needs of local communities, but another perspective is that northern agriculture has untapped potential to increase the local supply of food and even contribute to the global food system. Policies across northern jurisdictions target the expansion and intensification of agriculture, contextualized for the diverse social settings and market foci in the north. However, the rapid pace of climate change means that traditional methods of adapting cropping systems and developing infrastructure and regulations for this region cannot keep up with climate change impacts. Moreover, the anticipated conversion of northern cold-climate natural lands to agriculture risks a loss of up to 76% of the carbon stored in vegetation and soils, leading to further environmental impacts. The sustainable development of northern agriculture requires local solutions supported by locally relevant policies. There is an obvious need for the rapid development of a transdisciplinary, cross-jurisdictional, long-term knowledge development, and dissemination program to best serve food needs and an agricultural economy in the boreal and Arctic regions while minimizing the risks to global climate, northern ecosystems and communities.

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