Reindeer pastoralism is based on families following their herds year-around with their economy primarily tied to reindeer and reindeer products. Central to the reindeer husbandry is the “siida” system which is a unit composed of one or more reindeer management families that, together in a social and labour community keep control over a reindeer herd by herding. In Finnmark the reindeer husbandry is characterised by seasonal migration between the continental area, which forms the winter pastures, and the summer pastures along the coast. Privilege to both summer and winter pastures is determined by historical practice and the national management regime. The migration between different areas generates a complicated pattern where the participants within siidas differ between summer and winter.
Understanding causes behind ecosystem change
To understand ecosystem changes there is a need to study social forces and management practices underlying these changes. Besides climate and technical encroachments, the geographical differences in reindeer herding practices is a major factor influencing ecosystem dynamics in Finnmark. There is, however, a limited understanding about causes underlying these geographical differences in reindeer herding practices. In this part of the project we study why reindeer herding practices differs and how adapted management regimes are to spatial variation in pastoral ecosystems of Finnmark.
We apply a mixed methods approach to study geographical differences in reindeer herding practices. Our starting point is the interdisciplinary design which is based on contrasts in reindeer numbers and productivity between neighbouring districts. The neighbouring districts have approximately the same biophysical environment; hence variation in herding strategies must be a major factor causing these contrasts. Comparative interviews with 80 reindeer herders are conducted to identify the major sources of differences in herding strategies and responses to management regimes (ref comparative interviews). These interviews are compatible with 4 other in-depth studies. Two of these projects aim to understand different herding strategies; Variation in time allocation among reindeer herders in Finnmark and Symbolic capital and the importance of a “shadow-field” in reindeer husbandry, one focus on economic adaptation and one on the reindeer management regime in which reindeer herders are embedded