October 8, 2014 • Philip Burgess
Much higher levels of radioactivity than normal have been found among Norway’s grazing animals, especially its reindeer population, a study revealed on Monday.
Almost 30 years after the nuclear plant explosion in Chernobyl, this autumn, more radioactivity has been measured in Norwegian grazing animals than has been noted in many years.
Lavrans Skuterud, a scientist at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (Statens strålevern), said: “This year is extreme.”
In September, 8200 becquerel per kilo of the radioactive substance Caesium-137 was measured in reindeer from Våga reinlag AS, in Jotunheimen, central Norway.
In comparison, the highest amount at the same place was 1500 becquerel among the reindeer in September 2012.
May 24, 2014 • Philip Burgess
Many reindeer herders in Northern Norway use old Norwegian Navy landing craft to ferry reindeer every year to their summer pastures on various islands in Troms and Finnmark counties. Norwegian photographer Jan Olsen has shot this stunning time lapse video of reindeer migrating to their summer pastures.
October 24, 2013 • Philip Burgess
The Icelandic design company Gagarin recently completed a 600 m2 design of the wild reindeer exhibition in the Hardangervidda National Park centre in Norway. The Hardangervidda park is Norway’s largest national park and it holds the largest wild reindeer population in Europe. The exhibition is comprised of 13 interactive installations which cover almost everything one can learn about wild reindeer. Users get to explore and experience, via tangible and unique solutions, the various historical, biological and social aspects related to the existence of the reindeer and learn about the various threats that are being imposed on their habitat – mostly by people.
The result is striking. Images from the exhibition here.
October 8, 2013 • Philip Burgess
Erna Solberg who has been leader of the Conservative Party since 2004, is expected to take office as the Prime Minister of Norway on 14 October 2013, after a centre-right coalition won a majority in the 2013 parliamentary elections.
She has served as a member of the Storting since 1989 and served as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development in Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik’s second Cabinet from 2001 to 2005. After winning the elections, she will be the second female Prime Minister of Norway after Gro Harlem Brundtland.
The International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry has a strong historical connection with the incoming Prime Minister. While she was serving under Prime Minister Bondevik as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, she officially opened the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry via videoconference in Kautokeino in 2005. You can watch her opening speech below (in Norwegian).
• Philip Burgess
Norway’s Conservative leader Erna Solberg said she would form a minority cabinet with the populist Progress Party after talks with two centrist parties broke down on Monday, giving ground on oil exploration and immigration. Solberg agreed to give up plans to drill for oil in several promising Arctic areas and also agreed to tighten asylum policies to win the support of her eventual coalition partner and the outside backing of the centrist Liberals and Christian Democrats.
“We were very close to finding good solutions… This is the second best option,” said Solberg, who is set to become Norway’s second female premier after winning elections earlier this month. “This is not the end of cooperation between the four parties.”
She now faces a difficult alliance with the right wing, anti-immigration Progress Party, which will enter government for the first time. Since it was founded in 1973, and until now, mainstream parties had considered it too radical for power. “We can’t hide the fact that we are very pleased with the immigration issues here. We have got a fairly strong tightening,” said Progress leader Siv Jensen, who is likely to become finance minister when the government takes office Oct 18.
The new coalition have signalled an intention to change their policies in northern Norway, which may impact reindeer husbandry, relations with the Sami parliament and the mining industry.
April 30, 2013 • Philip Burgess
With the fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’ and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the global family of reindeer herding peoples was again able to meet, communicate, network and collaborate. The first reindeer peoples festival was held in Tromso, Norway in 1993 and reindeer peoples from across the circumpolar region gathered together for the first time. Through this collaboration the Association of World Reindeer Herders was consolidated and the cycle of World Reindeer Herders’ Congresses was initiated, which this year will be held in Genhe/Alougoya, in Northeast China, July 25-8. Previous Congresses have been held in Inari, Yakutsk and Kautokeino.
You can now review the historic first meeting through a fascinating photo journal that was compiled after this first event. The guest of honour was the renowned ethnographer and adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl. There were meetings, speeches and a number of cultural events such as concert which featured Nils Aslak Valkeapaa and a sporting event, the World Lassoo Throwing Championships, a keenly fought competition that continues to this day. Participants came from 12 regions in Russia and 7 countries.
May 27, 2011 • Philip Burgess
(Source BBC News) Arctic reindeer can see beyond the “visible” light spectrum into the ultra-violet region, according to new research by an international team.
They say tests on reindeer showed that the animal does respond to UV stimuli, unlike humans.
The ability might enable them to pick out food and predators in the “UV-rich” Arctic atmosphere, and to retain visibility in low light.
Details are published in the The Journal of Experimental Biology.
October 6, 2010 • Philip Burgess
Indistry Minister of Norway Trond Giske With Minerals Map of Northern Scandinavia. His governement has just announced a huge increase in funding to support the mining industry - Source adressa.no
So said, the Minister for Industry of Norway (Labour Party) while announcing a big increase in funding for mining exploration in the country in a story that appeared in Adressa.no
The Norwegian Geological Survey (NGU) believes there is a vast wealth of minerals and ore under the soil just waiting to be exploiting – only what holds them back is insufficient knowledge. That will soon change thanks to the Norwegian government announcing an extra 100 million NOK (ca. 17M USD)) over four years to searching for gold and other precious metals, mainly in northern Norway.
The first 25 million (4.3M USD) will come in next year’s budget, which is presented on Tuesday. This will represent a doubling of the Geological Survey currently receive for such work.
Giske acknowledged that as most of the deposits are in Northern Norway, this may lead to conflict with reindeer herders, but insisted that any conflict between reindeer herding and mining was “fully manageable”
Not according to Nils Henrik Sara, the leader of the Sami Reindeer Herders Association of Norway(NRL), in a reaction in NRK Sami Radio,
“It’s not as simple as the industry minister told Adresseavisen. But of course for their enforcement system, it might be “manageable” because they do not account for what the reindeer industry says, and thus it is easy for them to get the reindeer industry to follow their terms “
The NRL leader clearly stated that their organization is against all mining in areas used by reindeer husbandry.
“NRL is against all who have an intention to destroy the industry’s reindeer pastures. Mining destroys grazing for reindeer, and it can not be accepted by NRL”
“Let the treasure hunt begin” the Minister was quoted as saying in the news report…
April 13, 2010 • Philip Burgess
A multi stakeholder seminar was held in the Kautokeino, Norway yesterday which focussed on the issue of mining in Finnmark, an issue of some controversy in the region since the passing of the Finnmark Act which devolved desicion making powers over multiple resource issues to the region of Finnmark. The seminar was attended by the leader of the EALÁT project and several EALÁT partners including the leader of the Sami Reindeer Herders Association of Norway. Heavyweight politicians were present, including the Parliamentary leader of the governing Labour Party Helga Pedersen and the leader of the mining company Store Norske Gull, who have been active in staking claims most particularly in the Karasjok region. Pedersen was unequivocal in her support for the future development of mining in the the region, which reindeer herders fear will mean the further erosion of winter pastures that are already under duress. Pedersen told NRK Sami Radio
Both Finnmark society and the Sami community is entirely dependent on new activity. If one is to preserve the culture and language we are going to have to have new jobs for the youth in the Sami villages. You can not save the Sami culture simply by having Sami kindergarten at Tøyen in Oslo and courses in communities with cafe lattes, it has to happen here,
You can read the rest of the article here on the Reindeer Portal
April 8, 2010 • Philip Burgess
In northern Norway, summer pastures for reindeer are often located on the coastal islands of Finnmark and Troms counties. Traditionally, reindeer swim across from the mainland to the islands but with increasing pasture losses and migratory route fragmentation, since the early 1970s, many herders use a reindeer ‘ferry’ to transport reindeer over distances that have now become too far to swim (reindeer are exellent swimmers).
Reindeer ferry season is about to begin this year on April 20th from Balnes in Balsfjord and some 15,000 reindeer from 20 reindeer herding districts will make the ferry ride by May 9th. National Geographic featured a short article on this unusual form of transport in collaboration with the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry which you can read here.
November 17, 2009 • Philip Burgess
by Catherine Marciano. JARFJORD, Norway (AFP) – On Norway’s border with Russia, the consequences of climate change are affecting the reindeer population as rising temperatures hit food stocks and industry growth eats into vital grazing land.
“Over the past three years, I’ve had to give some hay to my 800 reindeer during the coldest months. It’s more expensive and it gives me more work,” said Jan Egil Trasti, a reindeer herder from the native Sami people.
The reason: the lichen his animals graze on has become tougher to find as winter temperatures rise. The snow thaws, and along with rain, then freezes anew — covering the ground in layers impervious to all but the most tenacious reindeer.
October 9, 2009 • Philip Burgess
On Wednesday, October 7th, the Ministers of Agriculture in Norway and Sweden signed the new Norwegian-Swedish Reindeer Grazing Convention. The Convention contains provisions for how reindeer herding is conducted over the border.
The background to the negotiations is that the 1972 Reindeer Grazing Convention expired in 2005 and had to be replaced with a new one. The new Convention contains seven chapters with 34 articles in which the main provisions of reindeer herding over the border are stated.
The Convention will after the signing be sent to concerned parties for a referral and enters into force once it is ratified by both countries, which requires a decision of the Parliaments in both Sweden and Norway. The Convention shall be in force for 30 years, with renewal of ten-year periods unless terminated.
September 4, 2009 • Philip Burgess
On September 14th, people in Norway will go to the polls – for the national elections, for the Sami Parliament elections and the municipality and regional elections. As a result, the Norwegian media has been full of little else, these last few weeks. NRK Sami Radio ran a piece recently that asked where all the parties (who had candidates running for the Sami Parliament) stood on reindeer husbandry. Some of these parties (Arbeiderpartiet, Høyre, Fremskrittspartiet and Senterpartiet) are mainstream Norwegian parties, while the others are parties only running for the Sami Parliament or regionally. Read on and see where the parties stand…
November 17, 2008 • Philip Burgess
(Pic and story Ságat) By using GPS transmitters on reindeer in the Skæhkere reindeer husbandry district in southern Norway, reindeer herders hope that in time it will be easier to document their large losses caused by predators. Herders in this district in Trøndelag spend a great deal of time looking for carcasses for documentation purposes.
October 24, 2008 • Philip Burgess
24 reindeer were killed by a train last week near Majavatn in the southerly area of reindeer husbandry in Norway. while compensation is paid, reindeer herder Nils Johan Kappfjell said
“It seems that it is cheaper for the NSB to pay for the animals than to put up fencing along the line”
The NSB press officer stated that
If we are notified of a specific local area, we tend to slacken the pace. But there are limits to how long stretches we should do it. That said, we are sorry for what happened, but I can not see that we could have done something different in this case
Elsewhere, southern Sami reindeer herders are asking why they are not permitted to use the excellent lichen pastures that have been placed off limits to reindeer in their area. Sami herders were removed from the area in 1800. Reindeer herder Even Danielsen said,
This is incredibly good reindeer country, with good lichen, grass and a stable winter climate, It is tragic that reindeer husbandry in the Røros region can not exploit the areas here that were traditional reindeer pastures,
The three reindeer districts that want to use their old pasture areas is Saantie-Essand, Gåebbrie-Riasten/Hylling and Svahke-Elgå reindeer districts. Herders received scientific backing for their claims too.
There is a great loss for Southern Sámi reindeer and the mountain
regions that the best reindeer pasture areas in the northern part of
Hedemark not in use, It is certainly not ecological to leave them unused. It would
be an advantage if the reindeer were grazing a little, so it woud gow better instead of being left to rot in the ground
stated Ansgaar Kosmo, a well known lichen researcher in Norway.
October 9, 2008 • Philip Burgess
(Photo J.E. Kalvemo, NRK) The Bessaker wind power station in the Fosen region in the southernmost parts of reindeer husbandry in Norway has just opened and was visited by reindeer herders from Norway and Sweden (in Jamtland and Trondelag) who fear the impact that it will have (there are plans for large expansion) on reindeer and loss of pastures. There is also wind power development on the Swedish side of the border and reindeer herders are feeling squeezed according to reindeer herder Arvid Jaama on the Norwegian side. Reindeer Herder on the Swedish side Sture Åhren said to NRK Sami Radio,
If this wind power development continues on the Norwegian and Swedish side of the border, I would warn young people to stay away from reindeer herding.
June 3, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Predation is a serious problem for reindeer herders in the spring and early summer after calving season, as young calves are particularly vulnerable to predation. Kristian Jåma, a Sami reindeer herder from Sør-Fosen in Sør-Trøndelag region said to NRK Sami Radio that he feels that his claims about predation loss are not believed. In a small area, he has lost 24 reindeer, many of which are claves to predation, particularly eagle.
I feel that Statens naturoppsyn (SNO) do not believe me because they have not come to document the carcasses before they are eaten up.
Without documentation by SNO, reindeer herders do not receive compensation. Another risk to reindeer at this time of the year, when so many reindeer are moving or have arrived in their summer pastures is traffic, with a high number of reindeer fatalities being reported along the E6, Norway’s main North South artery.
Finally, a board member of the Finnmark branch of Norway’s right wing Progress Party (FrP), currently Norway’s second largest political party has claimed in a local paper that reindeer husbandry is acting as a hindrance to industrial development in Finnmark, and went on to opine that as reindeer herders use such large areas and block development they should pay a tax on land use.
May 12, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Sami reindeer herder Olav Mathis Eira was in London recently to make a direct appeal to the British Prime Minister.
“Climate change is threatening our economy as reindeer herders. Because this is part of our traditional way of life, if the economy goes, probably the entire Sami culture would go with it.”
The story was covered in the London Independent,
March 6, 2008 • Philip Burgess
(from Aftenposten) Reindeer herding in northern Norway is under constant threat from development that’s encroaching on grazing areas. Now state officials say they’ll heed warnings that reindeer operations will die out within 50 years.
“It’s a clear goal of this government to maintain today’s level of reindeer herding,” Ola T Heggem, state secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture (Landbruksdepartementet), told Aftenposten on Monday. “It will be preserved.”
This was in response to criticisms from the Sami Reindeer Herders Association about the loss of reindeer pastures due to uncontrolled cabin development.
Read the full story here.
February 19, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Reindeer from Sweden are invading reindeer herding districts in Norway as the ongoing disputes between herders in Norway and Sweden and the unresolved border issues continue, according to an article in Namdalsavisa, and it is a matter for concern for both reindeer herders and scientists. Concerns relate to the impact on the pastures and the difficulties that arise if reindeer mix. The problem is particulary severe in the Vestre Namdal reindeer herding district.
February 1, 2008 • Philip Burgess
In a speech ‘Climate Change in a Polar Perspective’, in Beijing on 30th January, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said,
Firstly, Arctic climate change will alter the flora and fauna of the region. This will have serious consequences, not least for indigenous peoples. Traditional reindeer herding and the way of life of these peoples will be harder to sustain
You can read the full speech here (English).
January 28, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Reindeer have been much in the media this last week. Several thousand reindeer from the Swedish side of the border have moved into Trøndelag region in Norway, in search of better pastures, according to this NRK report. This has meant a lot of extra work for reindeer herders on the Norwegian side of the border, who are also dealing with marginal winter pasture conditions. The case drew comment from a Norwegian parliamentary representative who drew attention to the fact that the Convention that governs cross border reindeer movements has been allowed to lapse for several years.
In other news, East Finnmark (Polmak/Varanger) is the best place to be a reindeer calf in Norway, in terms of pasture and predation with losses, which are estimated to be lowest there compared to the rest of Norway. The worst place is the Troms region with 42% of all calves born being lost to predation, poor pastures etc. By comparison, herders in East Finnmark are estimated to lose 18% of their calves.
Last week, NINA, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, released a report that concluded that larger reindeer herds gave rise to weaker animals and increased risk of predation. You can download the report on the Reindeer Portal (Norwegian).