Indigenous and TEK-Led Restoration Enables Survival At Present Through Addressing of Past Damages: Case of Finland

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Tero Mustonen, Pauliina Feodoroff, Kaisu Mustonen

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Background Climate change is affecting the Sámi disproportionally worse than other regions of the world. Given \ that Sámi economies and livelihoods as well as culture are all fully dependent on reliable cryosphere (snow and ice) conditions and safety, climate change that warms up the North boreal ecosystems has cascading local and regional impacts. This is why the Skolt Sámi living in NE Finland have joined forces with Snowchange Cooperative and their Landscape Rewilding Programme to rewild critically important habitats to increase resilience. Objectives In this paper we review success and failures of the first five years of Landscape Rewilding Programme in Sápmi, Sámi homeland. We demonstrate how Indigenous knowledge- led rewilding of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems has been able to respond to climate change impacts and paves a road ahead on survival under rapid changes. Methods We explain success by identifying river Vainosjoki, subject to man-made alterations in 1960s to 1970s as a fully restored ecosystem using Sámi knowledge. Secondly we review community-based observations and expanding the work to boreal peatlands and forests to increase land-based ecosystem actions. Ecosystem baselines are explored using oral histories, cultural indicators and culturally-appropriate land use and occupancy mapping. Results We demonstrate how salmonid fish spawning locations and juvenile fish habitats become healthy through Indigenous led restoration. Conclusion Landscape Rewilding Programme seems to deliver on those most critical aspects involved in restoration – engaging in practical terms with Indigenous knowledge as led by Indigenous peoples AND delivering in scale new solutions to an urgent problem.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program