Reducing Conflict in Wild Landscapes – Participatory Mapping in Abisko

How can wilderness conservation and planning become more inclusive? In June, Sebastian and I met with Alice Eldridge (University of Sussex), Roger Norum (University of Leeds) and Jonathan Carruthers-Jones (University of Leeds) to participate in their interdisciplinary research on participatory methods for mapping remote and wild landscapes, founded under the INTERACT network of Arctic research stations.

Alice, Roger and Jonathan all come from different scientific fields in the UK, from Soundscape Ecology to Social Anthropology, visiting Abisko and CIRC to involve people and their views on wild spaces, species and mountain landscapes in the area into their project. Sebastian and I had the pleasure to act both as participants as well as communication interns, contributing with our views to the research as well as studying it from a distance with our cameras. Before going out in Abisko National Park, we sat down with Alice, Roger and Jonathan who explained the research project’s aim in more detail; to explore ways to include a wide cross section of people, their knowledge and experience of mountain areas in decision making about those areas. By using mountain walks with different participants, the intent of the project’s results is to help to make more representative and inclusive maps of mountain areas that can be integrated with other ecological data and ultimately used in planning and conservation.

While walking in groups of three through Abisko National Park, discussing the different features of wilderness, ideas of postcolonial character and conflict resolution also rised to the discussion. Such time-consuming, bottom-up approach and innovative methodology used by Alice, Roger and Jonathan is incredibly fascinating and something I plan to bring to my own studies within Peace & Conflict and Terrorism Studies. 



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