Successful co-management and sustainable development will rely in part on modern legislation. One of the key roles served by government in co-management is to provide the Institutes of Public Government with the best advice on which to make land use and resource decisions. This role is most intense with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, where hundreds of decisions are considered each year pertaining to wildlife management. This has meant that the development has been able to co-exist with the environment.
Moreover the fishing and sealing industry have the potential to be a pillar of Nunavut's economy. Fisheries such as those for shrimp and turbot provide more than 150 jobs and $5 million of income directly into our community economies. Fisheries are a resource held in common with other Canadian jurisdictions and shared with other countries. The parable, “The tragedy of the commons” demonstrates how free access and unrestricted demand for a finite resource ultimately dooms the resource through over-exploitation. This occurs because the benefits of exploitation accrue to individuals, each of which is motivated to maximise one’s use of the resource, while the costs of exploitation are distributed between all those to whom the resource is available (which may be a wider class of individuals than those who are exploiting it).
This is why the area continues to seek recognition for the principles of adjacency, economic dependence and the land claim in the development of national fisheries policies and allocation decisions affecting Nunavut.
The area continue its investment in the Nunavut sealing industry through the development of the export market, the development of design and production capacity in Nunavut and through the purchase of market grade skins from harvesters. They also continue to work supporting national efforts to reduce trade barriers in seal products. This means that the industry can remain in competition with national and international competitors.
Sustainable development can also work in cold environments by switching energy sources and making the area more energy efficient. The cost of transporting diesel fuel to operate machines in the Arctic region is very high, typically 2-4 times world market prices. In Nunavut, diesel fuel purchases count for nearly 20 percent of the GDP. Unlike standard diesel biodiesel is a fuel made from vegetable oil, and so derived from plants (bio) and suitable for use in diesel vehicles – hence the name Biodiesel. It is a stable fuel, performs reliably in all diesel engines, cuts emissions, can be mixed with petroleum diesel, is safe to handle, it is as biodegradable as sugar and less toxic than salt and will work with all diesel storage and pumping stations. No engine modifications are needed to use Biodiesel in most modern vehicles. Most importantly it is a non-polluting fuel, essentially carbon-neutral and with emissions orders of magnitude less then fossil diesel. Replacing all or part of this with biodiesel fuel extracted from local resources would not only reduce these purchases, it would also provide a cleaner fuel alternative.
Traditional hunting and fishing activities in Nunavut offer an ideal source for this biodiesel—oils from fish and sea mammals. Biodiesel obtained from these sources could replace half of the current GDP purchases, stemming the flow of money to imported energy payments, at the same time revitalizing culturally relevant activities, stimulating the economy by creating jobs for hunters and fishermen. It will also be economical because these oils are co-products of food for the area. This will not only make the area energy efficient, but also sustainable in food. Hunting in tundra regions, especially by the Victorians in the whaling industry, has always been sustainable, because there has never really been over-fishing. As long as the fishing industry is considered more of a harvest rather than collecting every fish in the sea, the tundra food sources should be available for future generations. This is also what the goal should be with the extraction of oil.
It is estimated that $65 million was invested in Nunavut last year by the mineral exploration industry. This signals that the potential for mineral development in Nunavut is very promising. And, it should remind people that the source of their wealth is the land - as it has been for thousands of years, and as it will be for generations to come.
Nunavut is believed to have the richest natural resource endowment of any jurisdiction in Canada. The strategy is to develop a strong sustainable resource exploration and development sector that is managed by and for the people of Nunavut. This is how development in cold environments can happen in a sustainable manner. However by not co-operating with people who inhabit tundra environments, one can create environmental, social and economic problems that can stop sustainable development happening.
On the other hand unwise development is also a problem in the tundra. Although human populations in the tundra are still low, development can have a drastic effect on the environment. Buildings and roads put heat and pressure on the permafrost, causing it to melt. Not only do the buildings sag and the roads buckle, but the fragile tundra soil composition is becomes ruined. People have developed refrigerated foundations to prevent the permafrost from melting and, therefore, buildings from sinking, but some damage has already been done. Plants are also damaged from buildings. Tundra plants are very fragile and sometimes even stepping on them can kill a population for many years. Without plant cover, soil erosion sets in. As a result, little or no life can be supported in the tundra areas.
Musk oxen, which were valued by the sailors on the whaling ships for their fresh meat and tradable fur, were wiped out in the Alaskan tundra and the north-eastern coast of Greenland. Later musk oxen calves became popular in zoos; the protective adult population was decimated in order to safely collect the calves. It was not until 1917 that Canada finally brought in laws to protect musk oxen. By then, only 500 remained living in the wild in the Canadian tundra and only several thousand in other arctic areas of the world. The caribou were also an over hunted animal. By 1950, herds in North America were reduced by ninety percent.
Today, many countries have passed laws protecting animals from over hunting. In the arctic tundra animals, such as the caribou, musk oxen, arctic foxes, and polar bears, are protected by these laws. Because of these laws musk oxen numbers in Canada are now up to about 40,000. In Alaska there is a herd of about 1,000. Caribou numbers are also climbing; however they have not yet come close to their original numbers.
Although wildlife refuges and national parks in Alaska and Canada give animals added protection from hunting, their lives are also threatened by toxic pollutants. Pesticides can make its way through a food chain and kill whole families of animals. For example, if a falcon eats prey that has indirectly ingested pesticides, when the falcon lays its eggs they will crack before its young are ready to hatch. Indirect pesticide consumption is blamed for causing falcons to become an endangered species. These are the environmental problems that can be caused by the development and exploitation of cold environments.
Today, many native people inhabit these arctic regions. They survive by living off of lemmings, caribou, herbs, seals, salt and freshwater fish, whales, berries, and walrus. These people lived without technology for many years. The lives of these people remained unchanged until European, Canadian, and, later, American whaleboats appeared on the arctic coast in the 1700 and 1800s. These new people killed animals that the native people depended on brought liquor, gambling, disease, and new technology to their lives. Because of this, the native Inuit's population decreased by half. It can therefore be argued that modern influences and insensitive developments have serious effects on the traditional people of the cold regions. These are the social problems that can occur due to any type of development in tundra biomes.
Mining and drilling has also destroyed some areas of the tundra. Mining and drilling is popular in arctic tundra areas because they tend to be rich in mineral resources. Minerals are extracted from the ground of the arctic tundras in Russia, Greenland, and Canada. Around these sites not only is the land ravaged, but harmful dusts and gases are produced which cause air pollution. When dusts settle on neighbouring ponds, lakes, and streams these waters become uninhabitable by fish, animals and even people.
Oil drilling is popularly supported all over the world. Some arctic areas, like in Canada near the Mackenzie Delta and in Alaska in Prudhoe Bay, oil drilling is big business. Unfortunately, oil drilling, like mining, hurts the tundra. It pollutes the air, water, and ground. Both mining and drilling take land away from the arctic tundra animals. This is because they both produce large amounts of noise pollution, which drives animals from their homes. Plants cannot even survive around mining and drilling sites because of the pollution. Parts of the Russian tundra are an excellent example of arctic tundra land being destroyed by mining. Nickel mines there have become so contaminated that all surrounding plants have died off and the soil has washed away.
The greatest threat that oil mining poses on the tundra is oil spillage. If an oil leak occurs on the sea or ground, the consequences can be devastating. Oil pollutes the ground and water and kills animals that come in contact with it. An oil spill can ruin a biome as fragile as the tundra. No plants or animals will return to an area where an oil spill has occurred for decades or even longer.
Many scientists feel that global warming caused by greenhouse gases may eliminate arctic regions, including the tundra, forever. Some scientists believe that the over abundance of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere will accelerate global warming of the earth's climate within the next fifty years. This global rise in temperature will damage the Arctic and Antarctic more than any other biome. This is because scientists expect that the arctic tundra's winter will be shortened, melting snow cover and parts of the permafrost, which will result in the flooding of some coastal areas. Plants will die, animal migrating patterns will change, and the tundra biome as we know it will be gone. The effect global warming will have on the tundra is still uncertain. Scientists still do not know the exact result of a possible change in the world's climate on the tundra. What they do know is that with the tundra being the most fragile biome it will be the first to reflect any change in the earth.
Air pollution is also a huge threat to the tundra because of the influence outside winds have on it. Pollution from factories in Russia, other parts of Europe, and the Eastern United States can be carried to the tundra by winds. The foreign pollution forms smog clouds in some tundra areas and contaminates lichen, a large source of food for many animals.
The economy is an exciting mix of new growth driven by markets we don't control, and our traditional way of life. People’s connections to the land, which we call the traditional economy, are often overlooked by outside observers assessing a cold environment’s wealth and economic prospects. Yet, the traditional economy is strong in tundra regions, unlike many other places globally.
Economic development in cold environments will depend as much on the abilities to understand and communicate the dynamics of the 'mixed economy', as it will affect the efforts to attract new investment. Most of the people in cold environments depend on harvesting wildlife, or on arts and crafts. It is an economic tradition they take pride in, and one for which the tundra people are recognized, and honoured, around the world. If these factors are taken into consideration, then development can occur in a sustainable manner.