Reindeer herding and land use management – Nordic perspectives

Time: 20-21 October, 2014
Place: Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland

The aim of this seminar was to discuss reindeer herding and land use issues from the angles of different disciplines in the Nordic countries and to identify preconditions for sustainable reindeer husbandry and sustainable co-management and governance of land use between different stakeholders. The seminar also aimed to increase communication between research, administration, education and reindeer herders. The seminar brought together 118 participants; 77 registered participants and 41 undergraduate students from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Greenland, Germany, UK and Hungary.

This seminar was the second Nordic reindeer husbandry seminar organised within the framework of the Reindeer Husbandry Section of NJF, established in 2012. The seminar was hosted by the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland in Rovaniemi. The collaborative local organisers were the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute (RKTL), the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), the Reindeer Herders’ Association in Finland and the Sami Educational Centre, Inari, Finland.

The two-day seminar included six scientific sessions and a final panel discussion. The first seminar day included the sessions: Relations of reindeer herding and other land use activities; Reindeer herding in a changing environment; Predators and reindeer management; and How to combine different land use activities – presenting the POROT project in Finland. The second day addressed the themes: Sustainable and profitable reindeer management; and Social and cultural security and sustainability of reindeer herding livelihood - future prospects. The seminar ended with a panel discussion: Sustainable governance in reindeer management and land use. The seminar included a total of 18 oral presentations and 16 poster presentations. A pre-conference field trip was made to a reindeer farm near Rovaniemi, after which the Rovaniemi City Council held a welcoming party in the City Hall, hosted by chairman Heikki Autto.

Each scientific session was introduced by a keynote lecture. The first keynote speaker, Juha Joona, a researcher from the Institute of Environmental and Minority Law, University of Lapland, introduced legal aspects of reindeer herding as a land use right in Finland that differs from other Nordic countries. Professor Bruce Forbes from the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, reviewed relations of reindeer management and long-term pasture vegetation dynamics in Fennoscandia and NW Russia. Professor Birgitta Åhman from SLU, Sweden, presented the effects of predators on reindeer management, while the fourth keynote speaker, Dr. Bård-Jørgen Bårdsen from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), addressed the effects of climate and pasture condition on reindeer life histories and herd dynamics. The fifth keynote speaker, Dr. Annette Löf from the Umeå University, Sweden, discussed challenges of sustainability and the role of governance and politics in reindeer herding. In addition, there were several invited speakers from the ministries, reindeer herding organisations and other institutions targeting topical challenges in reindeer husbandry and land use management.

The final panel discussion chaired by Dr. Lasse Peltonen (SYKE) drew together ideas and questions from the scientific sessions and discussed sustainable governance in reindeer management and land use between policy-makers and administration. The panellists included administrators, delegates from the reindeer herders’ organisations and researchers from Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The seminar embraced a wide range of challenges in land use and other important fields relating to reindeer husbandry and identified common interests of research and co-operation between researchers and administration and other interest groups. Likewise, project ideas were discussed and further developed. Wide participation from all Nordic countries and different universities and institutions showed clear interest in the seminar and emphasised the importance of Nordic cooperation and contacts. The seminar was financially supported by NKJ (Nordforsk), Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Finnish Environmental Institute and Ministry of Environment in Finland. The next seminar is planned for Sweden in 2016.

For the seminar programme and abstracts see: www.ulapland.fi/njf2014.
For further information, contact: paivi.soppela@ulapland.fi

Organising committee

  • Birgitta Åhman, Swedish Agricultural University
  • Øystein Holand, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences
  • Rolf Røvden, Bioforsk, Norway
  • Kari Oinonen, SYKE, Finland
  • Janne Näkkäläjärvi, the Sami Educational Centre, Inari, Finland
  • Päivi Soppela, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, & Jouko Kumpula, RKTL, Finland (seminar coordinators).