IAB6: Nomadic herders: Enhancing the resilience of pastoral ecosystems and livelihoods of nomadic herders

Date: Friday October 12, 2018

Location: Saivo, Lappia Hall

Time: 8:30-10:00

The Arctic and sub-Arctic environment, climate and biodiversity is changing in ways unprecedented in our long histories in the north, challenging traditional ways of life, wellbeing, and food security. These changes constitutes a legitimate concern for traditional indigenous livelihoods, therefore the objective with this session is: to present and discuss reduction of land degradation, improve biodiversity conservation and increase community resilience by enhancing the capacity of Indigenous peoples to protect the environment through sustainable use. The session discuss indigenous knowledge and governance of protected areas.

Chairs: Svein Mathiesen, Association of World Reindeer Herders; Kathrine Johnsen, GRID-Arendal; Ole Anders Turi, Saami Council

Format: Series of presentations followed by panel discussion

Presentations and panelists:

  • Concept of Nomadic Herders - Indigenous knowledge, biodiversity and land degradation: Svein Mathiesen, UEI at International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry 
  • Actions for mitigation of cumulative impact - from a reindeer husbandry perspective: Anna Skarin, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Mikael Kuhmonen, Sirges sameby pdf
  • Protection of nature through sustainable use by reindeer herders in Russia: Gregory Ledkov, RAIPON 
  • Territory of traditional Nature and reindeer husbandry use the experience from Republic of Sakha Yakutia: Mikhail Pogodaev, Assocoation of World Reindeer Herders  pdf
  • The Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network: A Tool for Participatory Collection of Environmental Observations: Mike Brook, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium  
  • Indigenous Peoples governance of land in Alaska: TBC, Aleut International Association  
  • Moderated discussion: Anders Oskal, International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry


Actions for mitigation of cumulative impact - from a reindeer husbandry perspective

Anna Skarin, SLU (SE), Per Sandström SLU (SE), Stefan Sandström SLU (SE), Kaisa Raitio SLU (SE), Marita Stinnerbom and Jonas Stinnerbom Vilhelmina reindeer herding community, Mikael Kuhmunen, Jonas Vannar, Jakob Nygård, Sirges reindeerherding community, and Rasmus Kløcker-Larsen SEI (SE)

In the Arctic, there is a growing concern over the cumulative impacts of multiple land uses on landscape functionality. Sami reindeer husbandry often bears the brunt of these impacts since it relies on interconnected landscapes where the reindeer can move, by itself or facilitated by the herders during both smaller and larger migrations. Barriers and obstacles caused by human activities may result in making important grazing lands inaccessible or with the reindeer ending up in the wrong grazing area at the wrong time. Most often, the only source of knowledge on these impacts are the herders themselves, i.e. those who experience and navigate the consequences in their everyday lives. However, while recent years have seen growing interest, globally, in how indigenous communities can lead impact assessments on their own lands little research has yet explored how cumulative effects assessment can be undertaken based on the knowledge of Sami reindeer herders. In fact, impact assessment, especially in the European North, remains one of the arenas most entrenched in colonial practices that privilege ‘foreign’ and expert led research, invariably silencing herders’ knowledge. In this paper, we present insights from a long-term study wherein two Sami reindeer herding communities, namely Sirges and Vilhelmina Norra, with support from researchers have developed their own approach to cumulative effects assessment. The question we ask is how an impact assessment would look if conducted with genuine Sami leadership and how the results would differ from those generated by standard impact assessments. The assessment combined a wealth of both qualitative and quantitative methods but were all based on herders’ knowledge about their current and historical land use in. Moreover, we compiled current and historic geographical data on all other land use activities to show the progression of land use development. We demonstrate how the assessment differed from standard project-based assessments, as a retrospective and landscape-scale study supporting and benefiting from strategic visioning within the Sami communities. With this design, it provided novel understanding of the impacts of piecemeal developments both in space and in time on reindeer grazing ranges. It also allowed the herders to propose plans to improve the conditions and to remove known bottlenecks in the landscape, i.e. to repair old or enhance existing migration routes. Discussing these findings and methods, the study allows us to reflect on the role of research partnerships for the future development of cumulative effects assessment.\\


The Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network: A Tool for Participatory Collection of Environmental Observations

Michael Y. Brubaker and Michael J. Brook, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

Alaskans live close to the land, and the health of communities is closely related to the conditions of the environment. Many Alaska Natives possess intimate knowledge of the weather, seasons, land, and natural resources; and this equates to superb skills in detecting subtle environmental changes and their impacts. The Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network was originally designed as a tool to help collect and share the increasing number and wide range of unusual events witnessed by residents in rural Alaska communities. In recent years, these events have been captured in social media, like Facebook, which is very popular across Alaska. But Facebook focuses on immediate events rather than on ways to achieve long term learning and understanding. LEO Network focuses on creating a safe and respectful place for sharing knowledge, protection of privacy, archiving content for long term use, and providing technical assistance by connecting observers with topic experts.

LEO Network is part environmental observation field tool, part publishing platform, and part social network. It was developed by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in 2012, for the primary use of people in or working with rural Alaska communities. With the relaunch of the platform in 2015, enrollment was open to anyone; this has resulted in rapid growth in use and membership. To date there are 2,528 members in 588 communities and 50 countries around the world. The platform contains event-related local observations (1017) and news articles (1682) that are geo-coded, date-coded, tagged by topic, and linked to other content in the system. Examples include observations about unusual weather, seasonal change, wildlife, plants, infrastructure, invasive species and erosion.

LEO Network is not focused on being a quantitative monitoring system, but rather as a way for members to share qualitative, media-rich information about their changing environments. Where monitoring systems, citizen science projects, or research partners are available, LEO Network assists in connecting members with topic-relevant programs and participatory science opportunities.

Some of the guiding principles behind LEO Network include respect and engagement of different knowledge systems, including indigenous, local and scientific knowledge. LEO posts are permanently available to LEO members, and the original observer is attributed as lead author. Consultants, secondary observers, and other subject-matter experts are attributed as co-authors. All authors of an individual post are given the opportunity to review and provide final comment prior to publication. Recognition of participants in the system is emphasized with profiles and maps for every member and community, and the ability to apply the content in the system towards personal projects. Direct communication between members is encouraged and facilitated by the system, but in a way that protects the privacy of the members.

The LEO Network is designed with an emphasis on ease-of-use, availability everywhere, and language that is accessible to all. Translation of the platform into Arctic languages has encouraged growth and the potential of a broader dialog between members. A mobile application is available for Apple and Android for posting observations in the field, and the LEO Network website provides features both for posting observations as well as exploring the observations and individuals that make up the Network.

The value of the LEO Network is based on the quality and usefulness of the information for its members. As such, an important principal of LEO is to be highly responsive to the questions and information shared by the observers. LEO Network has a specific workflow design that supports timely editorial and consultative services to support the contributions of the members.

LEO Network has been successful in Alaska, and as a platform is experiencing circumpolar and global expansion. Through this platform, sharing between knowledge systems has increased, as has community involvement, and awareness among service providers and researchers about current events that are shaping activities and lives at the community level. 

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