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Exploring the multiple use of boreal landscapes: the importance of social-ecological diversity for mobility and flexibility
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. University of Turku, Turku, Finland.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science. (Arcum)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2014 (English)In: Human Ecology, ISSN 0300-7839, E-ISSN 1572-9915, Vol. 42, no 5, 671-682 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Sustainable multiple use of landscapes can be a challenging task for the stakeholders involved, especially when they have competing interests with respect to natural resource management. In this paper we analyze the consequences associated with “landscape diversity”, including the interactions between environmental, administrative and societal factors. As a case study, we describe winter land use for reindeer husbandry in the boreal forest in Northern Sweden, a resource that is also used for commercial timber production. We show how and why the interactions between the three factors associated with landscape diversity affect reindeer herding and the options for responding to change. Multi-dimensional landscape diversity can either (i) promote flexibility in the face of change in the form of mobility or (ii) create fragmentation that restricts adaption to changes. This is a result of the dynamic patterns of diverse landscape structures, created by administrative and societal choices. Because such landscape patterns react differently to environmental variability within a season and between years, landscape functions adjusted to the dynamics of environmental variables could help to provide continuity of grazing resources in both space and time and ensure that reindeer husbandry remains resilient to changes. Because of the unequal distribution of power and capacity for decision making, social learning between the two stakeholders can help to balance trade-offs between both types of land user, allowing them to coexist in a landscape shaped by diverse values, priorities and management practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 42, no 5, 671-682 p.
Keyword [en]
natural resource management, multiple use, reindeer herding, forestry, land-use conflict
National Category
Cultural Studies Social Anthropology Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-66373DOI: 10.1007/s10745-014-9687-zISI: 000343723700002ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84920952250OAI: diva2:606337
Swedish Research Council Formas
Available from: 2013-02-19 Created: 2013-02-19 Last updated: 2016-05-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Contested Landscapes: social-ecological interactions between forestry and reindeer husbandry
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Contested Landscapes: social-ecological interactions between forestry and reindeer husbandry
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Throughout northern Fennoscandia, reindeer husbandry is a central part in the cultural heritage of the Sámi people. In its history, Sámi culture and reindeer husbandry have undergone significant adaptations to environmental, social and political challenges. Landscape changes on the winter grazing grounds were mainly driven by resource exploitation, especially by industrialized forestry. Important grazing resources were lost, i.e. terrestrial and arboreal lichens that constitute essential key elements in the herding year.

In my thesis, I explore the consequences of these transformations in Swedish boreal forests for reindeer husbandry. The multi-disciplinary approach integrates interview studies, ecological fieldwork and theoretical modeling of forest development.

I emphasize the understanding of landscapes as multi-dimensional concepts with ecological, social and economic components. They interact in determining the amount of landscape fragmentation in physical or administrative ways, or in enabling reindeer herders to move between different landscape elements. These elements, e.g. forest stands of different ages, can react differently to winter weather. Thus, they enable reindeer herders to adjust their grazing grounds according to the availability of forage, mediated by snow conditions. However, forestry practices have reduced the abundance of old-growth forests, and therewith the functionality of the landscape. By comparing snow conditions in different forest types, I show that multi-layered canopies can offer a more diverse pattern of snow hardness. However, the interaction between forest characteristics with snow is strongly dependent on weather conditions, e.g. the timing and intensity of warm spells. The prevalence of single-layered forest stands therefore can lead to a reduction in snow variability and potentially restricts the availability of suitable grazing grounds for reindeer. If snow conditions hinder reindeer in foraging on terrestrial lichens, old forests formerly supplied reindeer with arboreal lichens. I show how industrial forestry has reduced the availability of this emergency forage by the reduction of old forests and increased landscape fragmentation and analyze the consequences of different management strategies on future habitat availability for arboreal lichens. By integrating these results into a model of forest management, I offer insights into consequences arising from different priorities that either favor timber production or the development of lichen-rich grazing grounds.

In conclusion, I emphasize the importance of landscape diversity, as well as the ability to make use of this diversity, as a source of adaptability of reindeer husbandry to changes in grazing conditions by e.g. winter weather dynamics. A shared future of reindeer husbandry and forestry could be fostered by encouraging the social-ecological co-evolution of multiple use landscapes and the enhancement of the cultural and biological significance of the Swedish boreal forests.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2013. 35 p.
Reindeer husbandry, forestry, adaptive capacity, arboreal lichens, snow, winter pasture, natural resource management, multiple use, land-use conflict, habitat fragmentation
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-66386 (URN)978-91-7459-535-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-03-22, KBC huset, Lilla Hörsalen (KB3A9), Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2013-03-01 Created: 2013-02-19 Last updated: 2013-02-20Bibliographically approved

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