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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Expansion of Agriculture in Northern Cold-Climate Regions: A Cross-Sectoral Perspective on Opportunities and Challenges

Unc, Adrian; Altdorff, Daniel; Abakumov, Evgeny; Adl, Sina; Baldursson, Snorri; Bechtold, Michel; Cattani, Douglas J.; Firbank, Les G.; Grand, Stephanie; Gudjonsdottir, Maria; Kallenbach, Cynthia; Kedir, Amana J.; Li, Pengfei; McKenzie, David B.; Misra, Debasmita; Nagano, Hirohiko; Neher, Deborah A.; Niemi, Jyrki; Oelbermann, Maren; Lehmann, Jesper Overgard;
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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


boreal agriculture; Arctic agriculture; crops and agricultural practices; northern soils; policies for agriculture expansion; land-use conversion; social and cultural drivers

Published in

Frontiers in sustainable food systems
2021, volume: 319, article number: 663448

Authors' information

Unc, Adrian
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Altdorff, Daniel
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Abakumov, Evgeny
Saint Petersburg State University
Adl, Sina
University of Saskatchewan
Baldursson, Snorri
Agricultural University of Iceland (LBHI)
Bechtold, Michel
KU Leuven
Bechtold, Michel
University of Leuven (KU Leuven)
Cattani, Douglas
University of Manitoba
Firbank, Les G.
University of Leeds
Grand, Stéphanie
University of Lausanne
Gudjonsdottir, Maria
University of Iceland
Kallenbach, Cynthia
McGill University
Kedir, Amana J.
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Li, Pengfei
Xi'an University of Science and Technology (XUST)
McKenzie, David B.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Misra, Debasmita
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Nagano, Hirohiko
Niigata University
Neher, Deborah A.
University of Vermont
Niemi, Jyrki
Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE)
Oelbermann, Maren
University of Waterloo
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Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action
SDG2 Zero hunger

UKÄ Subject classification

Climate Research
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

Publication Identifiers


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