Work Package 2: Biodiversity and welfare implications of climate change for reindeer herding Saami in Northern Sweden and Norway

Reindeer herd rest on the side of a road in Norway.

(Photo: Colourbox)

Work Package 2 assess the biodiversity and welfare implications of climate change for reindeer herding Saami in Northern Sweden and Norway.

Reindeer herding is of great importance to Saami communities, the only indigenous population of Scandinavia, both economically and, not least, culturally. Historically, herders have handled seasonal changing environmental conditions by moving herds across huge areas between winter- and summer grazing ranges. To cope with sudden vegetation shortages, difficult winter conditions, pests, and losses to carnivores, Saami reindeer herders have often practised herd size accumulation as a risk management tool. Climate models predict more variable future winter conditions in the Scandinavian Arctic. This has the potential to negatively affect reindeer husbandry, and make reindeer herding even more vulnerable to potential external limiting factors such a as forestry and predation by carnivores, negatively affecting the welfare of the Sami. Insights are urgently needed about likely future scenarios and welfare consequences facilitating necessary adaptions, and providing input to regulations governing reindeer husbandry.

Objectives include:

  • determining to what extent cultural and intrinsic values and income from reindeer husbandry are crucial to the modern Norwegian and Swedish reindeer herding households and their coping strategies.
  • Combining data on climate, land use, predation and reindeer productivity with household survey data to enable forecasts on the viability of Saami herder livelihood strategies.

Empirical results will be used as input in bio-economic models to assess costs and benefits to Saami reindeer herders in various climate scenarios. Maps illustrating the welfare effect across Saami communities will be produced to reveal areas likely to be negatively affected by climate change.

Results will provide input to regulating authorities, especially regarding optimal design of economic instruments to reduce the risk of a collapse of reindeer pastoralism.