The kelp forests in the northern regions of Norway are recovering from decades of decline and now can now provide a range of ecosystem services that had previously been compromised. The interest in increased and new usages of kelp is substantial, as macroalgae are being proposed as solutions to several global environmental problems such as climate change and shortage of food, fodder and renewable energy. There are enormous coastal areas (~10 000 km 2) in Northern Norway with potential for kelp regrowth but there is a lack of management relevant knowledge of
socio-economic dimensions that is needed to make informed decisions on how to use this resource.
OPTIMAKELP will contribute to ecosystem-based management of recovering kelp forests by analyzing kelp distribution, value of ecosystem services, and adaptive management options under climatic and socio-economic change. OPTMIAKELP will also conduct social-impact assessments on increased harvesting and analyze opportunities and barriers for ecosystem-based management within the current governance system, including a comparative analysis with Scotland. OPTIMAKELP focuses on the northern regions of Norway through case studies in Trøndelag, Nordland and Finnmark where kelp exist in different successional stages.
These three case studies not only represent variations in ecosystems, but also diverse communities where stakeholders may value ecosystem services differently. Stakeholder preference is a key aspect in designing effective management models, especially when there are potential trade-offs among different economic sectors and interests. We will use an adaptive co-management framework that incorporates change and integrates climate change as a key element. OPTIMAKELP relies on strong integration of natural and social
sciences as well as humanities.