Adapting together in times of climate change : the potential of adaptive governance for improving the cooperation between reindeer herders and forest owners in northern Sweden
Abstract: Reindeer husbandry has long been a central element of the traditional livelihood and culture of indigenous Sami people in northern Sweden. However, it faces several challenges from competing land uses, primarily forestry. Different forest conditions are desired by forestry and reindeer husbandry to accommodate each sectors’ distinct interests, promoting high timber and pulp production or improved pasture conditions respectively. As the property right of forest owners and the right of customary longtime use of reindeer herders causes an overlap regarding the use rights to the same land, a cooperative forest management to take the activities of both sectors into account is needed. As the effects of climate change in Sweden increase, conditions in the social-ecological system (SES) of northern Sweden’s forests change. Forestry needs to accommodate for increasing risks of forest damage from storms, droughts, pests and fires. Shifting forestry strategies and altered snow conditions that hinder foraging will change the pasture quality for reindeer herding. Adaptive governance has emerged as a concept to deal with uncertainty and changing SES conditions such as resulting from climate change. To consider the potential of adaptive governance as an alternative to regulate the shared land use for reindeer husbandry and forestry, this study uses policy documents from governmental and non- governmental organisations as well as academic literature, supplemented by two semi-structured interviews with stakeholders from both reindeer husbandry and forestry. First, a system analysis is conducted utilizing Ostrom’s SES framework to describe the factors influencing the current system. Building on this analysis, the social context is evaluated regarding its capacity for adaptive governance based on factors outlined by Folke, Hahn, Olsson and Norberg (2005) that promote the implementation of adaptive governance: knowledge, collaboration and decision-making. The findings illustrate that the collection and exchange of knowledge and information has been central to past efforts for improving the dialogue and have increased the understanding between the groups for each others activities. Several projects were based on collaboration involving both groups. However, the relationship between forest owners and reindeer herders varies throughout the reindeer herding area, as some reindeer herders feel a lack of influence on decision-making and experience low levels of trust and respect. Therefore, to expand the capacity for adaptive governance, the social context needs to be developed further by focusing on collaboration and trust between these groups, for example through the establishment of bridging organisations.
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