University of Bergen (UiB)
The UNESCO Chair group at the Department of Biological Sciences
Since 2015, the University of Bergen (UiB) has hosted The UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Heritage and Environmental Management – Nature and Culture, which has been held by Dr. Inger Elisabeth Måren since 2017. The chair was created during the work of establishing Norway’s very first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (BR), in Nordhordland, a process in which Dr. Måren was a major driving force. The purpose of this chair is to promote an integrated system of research, training, information, and environmental management, with a special focus on Nordhordland UNESCO Biosphere under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program.
Today, the UNESCO Chair group consists of Dr. Måren and two postdoctoral researchers, three PhD candidates and one technician. The group is focusing on themes within social-ecological systems, including sustainable resource management, sustainable land use, ecosystem services, agroecology, and sustainable food systems. We work closely with the managers and policy makers of Nordhordland BR in many projects, and we are well-connected to many key stakeholders and locals in the BR region. Currently we are working closely with the planning office of Alver Municipality, the largest municipality in Nordhordland BR, and the Biosphere organization at Region Nordhordland. These relationships are very important to us, as we base most of our empirical work in this area, and we value local knowledge and collaboration highly as we strive to achieve co-production processes along the way. Further, we also cooperate with several European partners linked to different BRs in the UK, Estonia, Czech Republich, and in Portugal, and we have an extensive network of international colleagues involved in various research and teaching projects and initiatives.
Currently we are running or participating in five projects, most of which are connected to Nordhordland BR. We study nature’s contribution to people, how different grazing management affect biodiversity and ecosystem services, and land use change processes over the last 50 years. In addition to our European partners in the CULTIVATE project, we also have partners in Portugal through an EEA Grants project, collaborating with all 12 Portuguese BRs on mapping, analysing, generating, and testing new knowledge and solutions for sustainable land-use at a local scale in line with the needs of the people living in the BRs.
We are also part of several other initiatives, and most recently, the UNESCO Chair took part in establishing the cross-disciplinary Centre for Sustainable Area Management (CeSAM) at UiB in 2020, and Dr. Måren is one of the centre’s leaders. CeSAM aims to support sustainable management for landscapes and oceans, biodiversity, and nature’s benefits to people, with a focus on evidence-based decision making and consolidating cross-disciplinary research and education. CeSAM has 15 associated projects and is currently funding many interesting new initiatives.
Lastly, a big part of the group’s work is connected to teaching. Valuing students and emphasising the significance of teaching is very important to the UNESCO group. Several of the group’s members are involved in developing and teaching multiple of the university’s courses related to sustainable development: sustainability perspectives, sustainability on land and under water, and energy transition. These are relatively new courses which focus on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and they have become very popular with students across disciplines.
Meet the team involved in the project
Dr. Inger Måren
Professor - University of Bergen
Dr. Inger Elisabeth Måren is a professor at the University of Bergen and holds the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Heritage and Environmental Management – Nature and Culture since 2017. She has been a key person in the establishment of the first Norwegian biosphere reserve, Nordhordland (est. 2019), and focuses most of her science in this area. Although she holds a PhD in plant ecology, her research is mostly cross-disciplinary. It focuses on the dynamics in coupled human and natural systems, including sustainable development, ecosystem services, agroecology and sustainable resource management and land-use. Inger is also one of the leaders of the newly developed Centre for Sustainable area management (CeSAM) at the University of Bergen, which aims to support sustainable management for landscapes and oceans, biodiversity, and nature’s benefits to people.
Kari Evensen Natland
Coordinator and Project Leader of Nordhordland UNESCO biosphere
Kari Evensen Natland is the coordinator and project leader of Nordhordland UNESCO biosphere. She has been a key person in the establishment of the first Norwegian biosphere reserve, Nordhordland (est. 2019) and lead this work towards designation from 2013 – 2019. Today the biosphere organization has 4 employees and have several ongoing activities connected to a holistic sustainable development for the whole biosphere. This involves initiative and cooperation with and between the municipalities, initiating measures that support the biosphere reserve's strategic plan and partnerships with businesses and NGOs. Furthermore, ensure a good collaboration with various research environments to ensure a knowledge-driven development in the biosphere reserve, conduct good communication work and ensure stable healthy economy for the biosphere organization. Kari is also a member of the Norwegian MAB committee.
Dr. Alicia Barraclough
Postdoctoral Researcher associated to the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Heritage and Environmental Management – Nature and Culture
Dr. Alicia Barraclough is a postdoctoral researcher associated to the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Heritage and Environmental Management – Nature and Culture. She is a trained terrestrial ecologist and holds a PhD in Applied Environmental Science. Alicia’s work focuses on UNESCO Biosphere Reserves as social-ecological systems which are testing sites for sustainability and earth stewardship. Her research is at the intersection between the natural and social sciences, and include ecosystem services and social-ecological networks, land-use change, biodiversity conservation, adaptive co-management implementation, and sustainable development goal (SDG) implementation. She also has a strong interest in group process work, young stakeholder concerns and political ecology. Alicia is currently a Youth Focal point for youth concerns for the Man and Biosphere (MAB) UNESCO programme.
Research Technician - Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Bergen
Silje Östman is a research technician with the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Bergen. She holds a MSc in biodiversity, evolution, and ecology, and is trained in plant ecology. Silje is part of the UNESCO Chair group at the University of Bergen, where she contributes to all projects led by the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Heritage and Environmental Management – Nature and Culture. These projects focus mainly on agroecology, ecosystem services and sustainable land-use in Nordhordland UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.