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  1. Mongolia’s northernmost province, Khövsgöl Aimag, famous for its massive Lake Khövsgöl set among the mountainous steppe, taiga, and tundra forests, increasingly attracts both domestic and international tourists. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mongolia received over 500,000 tourists annually. The aimag is also home to Indigenous, nomadic Dukha reindeer herders and semi-nomadic Darkhad cattle herders. Using a multidisciplinary approach, this study uses an analytical hierarchy process to map areas in Khövsgöl Aimag, where the infrastructure, including buildings, dwellings, formal and informal roads, and pastureland, is subject to geohazards. The hazards of interest to this mapping analysis include mass wasting, flooding, and permafrost thawing, which threaten roads, pastures, houses, and other community infrastructure in Khövsgöl Aimag. Based on the integrated infrastructure risk map, an estimated 23% of the aimag is at high to very high risk for localized geohazards. After a discussion of the results informed by the interviews, mobile ethnographies, and local and national land use policies, we postulate that communities exercising more traditional nomadic lifestyles with higher mobility are more resilient to these primarily localized geohazards. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  4. Siberian taiga is subject to intensive logging and natural resource exploitation, which promote the proliferation of informal roads: trails and unsurfaced service roads neither recognized nor maintained by the government. While transportation development can improve connectivity between communities and urban centers, new roads also interfere with Indigenous subsistence activities. This study quantifies Land-Cover and Land-Use Change (LCLUC) in Irkutsk Oblast, northwest of Lake Baikal. Observations from LCLUC are used in spatial autocorrelation analysis with roads to identify and examine major drivers of transformations of social–ecological–technological systems. Spatial analysis results are informed by interviews with local residents and Indigenous Evenki, local development history, and modern industrial and political actors. A comparison of relative changes observed within and outside Evenki-administered lands (obshchina) was also conducted. The results illustrate: (1) the most persistent LCLUC is related to change from coniferous to peatland (over 4% of decadal change); however, during the last decade, extractive and infrastructure development have become the major driver of change leading to conversion of 10% of coniferous forest into barren land; (2) anthropogenic-driven LCLUC in the area outside obshchina lands was three times higher than within during the980s and 1990s and more than 1.5 times higher during the following decades. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  5. Trees in Arctic cities perform not only important provisional and regulating ecosystem services, but also bring predominantly settler population closer to the visual images and household standards of their home southern regions. However, maintenance of green infrastructure in the Arctic has specific difficulties associated with the harsh climatic and environmental conditions. This paper focuses on state and dynamics of vegetation in the city of Nadym, Russia, with a particular focus on native and introduced trees as the main ecosystem service providers and an articulation of local values towards green spaces. The research is based on interdisciplinary approach which includes interviews with local residents, geobotanical survey and analysis of remote sensing data. The results of the study show that maintaining of natural vegetation requires specific measures due to environmental the critical impact of anthropogenic activity. The active introduction of plants from more southern regions is manifested both in the deliberate practice of landscaping the city’s streets and courtyards, and in spontaneous attempts to introduce plants from more southern (not Subarctic) agricultural regions of Russia, which are privately brought by city residents from other regions. 
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  6. Wildfires in permafrost areas, including smoldering fires (e.g., “zombie fires”), have increasingly become a concern in the Arctic and subarctic. Their detection is difficult and requires ground truthing. Local and Indigenous knowledge are becoming useful sources of information that could guide future research and wildfire management. This paper focuses on permafrost peatland fires in the Siberian subarctic taiga linked to local communities and their infrastructure. It presents the results of field studies in Evenki and old-settler communities of Tokma and Khanda in the Irkutsk region of Russia in conjunction with concurrent remote sensing data analysis. The study areas located in the discontinuous permafrost zone allow examination of the dynamics of wildfires in permafrost peatlands and adjacent forested areas. Interviews revealed an unusual prevalence and witness-observed characteristics of smoldering peatland fires over permafrost, such as longer than expected fire risk periods, impacts on community infrastructure, changes in migration of wild animals, and an increasing number of smoldering wildfires including overwintering “zombie fires” in the last five years. The analysis of concurrent satellite remote sensing data confirmed observations from communities, but demonstrated a limited capacity of satellite imagery to accurately capture changing wildfire activity in permafrost peatlands, which may have significant implications for global climate. 
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  7. The paper is aimed at assessing the associations between the road networks geography and dynamics of wildfire events in the East Siberian boreal forest. We examined the relationship between the function of roads, their use, and management and the wildfire ignition, propagation, and termination during the catastrophic fire season of 2016 in the Irkutsk Region of Russia. Document analysis and interviews were utilized to identify main forest users and road infrastructure functional types and examine wildfire management practices. We combined community observations and satellite remotely sensed data to assess relationships between the location, extent, and timing of wildfires and different types of roads as fire sources, barriers, and suppression access points. Our study confirms a strong spatial relationship between the wildfire ignition points and roads differentiated by their types with the highest probability of fire ignition near forestry roads and the lowest near subsistence roads. Roads also play an important role in wildfire suppression, working as both physical barriers and access points for firefighters. Our research illustrates the importance of local and Indigenous observations along the roads for monitoring and understanding wildfires, including “zombie fires”. It also has practical implications for fire management collectively developed by authorities and local communities. 
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  8. Following the call to mobilize studies of social-ecological systems and sociotechnical systems, the paper presents the case for studying integrated social-ecological-technological systems (SETS), and dynamic systems that include social, natural and technological (engineering) elements. Using the case study of informal roads in the Baikal region, authors of the article argue that re-focusing on SETS creates additional synergies and convergence options to improve the understanding of coupled systems and infrastructure in particular. Historically, transportation infrastructure has contributed to changes in natural and social systems of Northern Eurasia: Transsiberian and Baikal-Amur railroads and East Siberia – Pacific Ocean and Power of Siberia pipelines have been the main drivers of social-ecological transitions. At the local scale, informal roads serve as one of the most illustrative and characteristic examples of SETS. The examination of development and transformation of the informal roads allows exploring the interactions between socioeconomic processes, ecological dynamics and technological advances. The variety of informal roads reflects the importance of specific social, natural or technological factors in the SETS transformation largely unconditioned by policy and regulations thus providing a unique opportunity to better understand sustainability challenges facing infrastructure-based SETS. Relying on interviews and in-situ observations conducted in 2019 in the Baikal region, the following factors affecting sustainability of informal road SETS were identified: social (identification of actors involved in location, construction, maintenance, use and abandonment of informal roads), technological (road cover, width, frequency and nature of use by different kinds of vehicles), environmental (geomorphology and landscape sensitivity and vulnerability). The sustainability challenges of SETS development and transformations are found in changing mobility practices, social structure and economies of local communities, increased occurrences of forest fires and development of erosion and permafrost degradation in local environment and push for development of new technologies of transportation and communication. 
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  9. null (Ed.)
    Green spaces have recently received wide acknowledgement for urban sustainability benefits and are mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs Target 11.7. The article aims to address the knowledge gap on indicators used for assessment of green spaces for urban sustainability in the Arctic using an example of Nadym, Russia which is illustrative of compact cities built during the Soviet time using a system of microrayons. Different indicators implemented by international organizations for assessment of green spaces are compared with indicators used in Russia. Utilizing very high-resolution WorldView-3 satellite image and open source data, the quantity and quality of green spaces are estimated with high accuracy. In addition to traditionally used indicators of share of green space per capita, share of public spaces for common use within walking distance to assess availability and accessibility of green spaces, the paper suggests importance of taking into account governance, distribution, and composition using analysis of historic legacies, municipal budget allocation for green space maintenance, and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index values. Such detailed view can enrich discussions about green spaces as sources for resilience both at the local and global levels, in comparison with other cities and across countries. 
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