Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

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; Parsons, David; Quideau, Sylvie; Sharkhuu, Anarmaa; Smreczak, Bozena; Sorvali, Jaana; Vallotton, Jeremiah D.; Whalen, Joann K.; Young, Erika H.; Zhang, Mingchu; Borchard, Nils
Show less authors


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

      SLU Authors

    • Parsons, David

      • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG2 Zero hunger
    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Climate Research
    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)