Popular Scientific Presentation

Woodpile. Photo.

Natural resources are raw materials or capacities that are found in and  on  our planet and on other planetary bodies and are widely used by humans to meet societal needs for growth, safety and long term political and economic stability. . There a vast selection of  natural resources, which can be classified by their geological or chemical origins (such as biotic or abiotic), or by their use (such as mineral and energy resources, or soil resources, or biological resources). Natural resources can also be categorized according to their renewability. Non-renewable resources either form slowly or no longer at all in the natural environment, thus making them subject to depletion over time. Minerals and fossil fuels are the most common resource included in this category. Renewable resources such as food and forest products can be replenished naturally, but are susceptible to depletion by over-exploitation if the rate of consumption exceeds the rate of replenishment/recovery. The concept of ecosystem services focusses on renewable natural resources, but this broader concept also includes regulating services (water quality maintenance, climate regulation, etc.) and cultural services (recreational values, etc.) generated by the environment.

Our Global Energy Systems group (GES) is engaged in teaching and research related to large scale energy systems. Fossil fuels (including controversial shale gas) currently make up over 80% of the worlds energy supply and their future availability is important for society. Possibilities for energy transitions towards renewable energy sources, such as wind power or biofuels, are also studied. GES works with a system approach to modelling of energy systems by including not only energy resources but also other natural resources, such as metals, lithium or phosphorous, necessary for the construction and manufacturing of energy technologies. Multi/transdisciplinary issues like energy security of the energy-economy-ecology nexus are also explored.

Environment, Nature and Society research section concentrates on interactions between humans and nature. We apply interdisciplinary approaches and a wide variety of natural and social science research methods. These approaches involve social-ecological systems, natural resource management, governance, and sustainability analysis. We also work with environmental policies and Sustainable Development Goals, practical application of the ecosystem services concept, biodiversity conservation and restoration, nature and fishing tourism development, and environmental conflicts. Our work is conducted in collaboration with stakeholders at different governance levels, from local communities and organisations to governmental authorities. Our main focal systems include coastal habitats, pollution, fisheries and aquaculture systems.

Sustainable development of natural resources and ecosystem services is a complex concept that requires interaction and efficient communication between natural science, technology, humanities and social science and in this sense NRHU is unique at Uppsala University. Interrelated research projects include the risk assessment and remediation of contaminated sediments that exist along Sweden coasts, evaluation of market-based instruments such as eco-certification schemes for food commodities, investigation of recreational anglers’ attitudes towards different management options for recreational fisheries, and the transition from fossil fuels to renewable supplies of energy.