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MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling

Governing, producing, and negotiating reindeer landscapes – towards fair and sustainable use of land

Alternative title: Reinens landskap – forvaltning, forhandling og samskaping for rettferdig og bærekraftig arealbruk

Awarded: NOK 9.8 mill.

The project examines the management of landscapes that are habitats for wild and domestic reindeer (reindeer landscapes) in Norway; areas that also harbor conflicts between different user interests. Focus is on the wild reindeer area in Hardangervidda and the domestic reindeer area in Finnmark. Both landscapes provide living conditions for reindeer (Rangifer tarandus): seasonal pastures, migratory routes, calving and rutting areas. Yet, the management of the two landscapes has different political goals and relate to different knowledge providers. They are perceived as separate administrative spheres, governed by different sectors and influenced by different representations (discourses) depending on whether the landscape is inhabited by wild or domestic reindeer. Good management of these reindeer landscapes is crucial for preserving Europe's wild reindeer population, Sámi reindeer husbandry and biological diversity. But the landscapes are exposed to increasing pressure from various land-use interests and climate change, and local right-holders such as landowners and reindeer herders claim that their knowledge and perspectives are often excluded in land management. Through participatory methods and close collaboration with landowners and reindeer owners, the project compares land management of wild and domestic reindeer areas, and sheds light on how Norwegian reindeer landscapes are managed, negotiated and created in the interaction between right-holders, land-use stakeholders and decision-makers. The project investigates which values and knowledge systems are reflected in land-use decisions, and it creates an arena where the actors of 'wild' and 'domestic' reindeer landscapes can exchange experiences and discuss issues they have in common. Finally, the project provides solutions for a more inclusive, fair and comprehensive management of 'wild' and 'tame' reindeer landscapes with an aim to minimize land-use conflicts in the transition to a low-emission society.

This collaborative project examines ecosystem-based management and mechanisms to facilitate fair and sustainable use of land under pressure. It is a study of two cases that sheds light on different knowledge systems for understanding coupled human-nature systems: The Norwegian management regimes for habitats of wild and domestic reindeer (reindeer landscapes). Sound management of these landscapes are crucial for the conservation of Europe's wild reindeer, indigenous Sámi reindeer livelihoods and culture, and biodiversity in general. Yet today, these landscapes are under increasing pressure from a variety of land-uses, as well as climate change. Local right-holders simultaneously argue that their knowledge and concerns are often excluded in land-use management. There is only one species of reindeer, but the management of reindeer and its landscapes engages different sectors, discourses and regulations, and are informed by different research communities and knowledge systems, depending on whether the landscapes are inhabited by ‘wild’ or ‘tame’ reindeer. To understand how categorization of animals affect landscape governance, and to identify fair and sustainable solutions to ecosystem-based management, we address three research questions: 1) What are similarities and differences in the governance of reindeer landscapes? 2) What are the main national and international discourses about reindeer, and how do they influence land-use decisions? 3) How do land-users perceive of sound management, and how can these perspectives inform landscape conservation more generally? Through participatory methods, the project compares experiences across the wild-tame divide. Through mutual learning between right-holders and stakeholders, we identify ways to minimize land-use conflicts and co-produce knowledge about ways to ensure more legitimate and comprehensive management of contested landscapes considering societal needs in the transition to a low-emission society.

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MILJØFORSK-Miljøforskning for en grønn samfunnsomstilling