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Climate change threatens traditional livelihood of Sami people

Published : 11 Feb 2020, 23:39

  DF-Xinhua Report

Photo Lapland Material Bank by Jan-Eerik Paadar.

The Ministry of Environment on Tuesday published the results of a research by University of Oulu, showing that the climate change has greatly altered the conditions for reindeer herding, the traditional livelihood of the Sami people in Lapland.

According to the results, in concrete changes, large fields of lichen on the Arctic hills that the reindeer feed on have been taken over by moss, while willows, a more southern type of bush, are creeping up on the hills, which put reindeer under the threat of lacking food. Meanwhile, warmer summers have worsened the health of reindeer and newborns die more often.

Jouni Jaakkola, director at the Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research (CERH) at the University of Oulu described the impact the climate change has brought to Lapland as deep and wide.

Besides reindeer herding, other traditional livelihood of the Sami people has also been influenced. Veteran reindeer herder Leo Aikio told Oulu-based newspaper Kaleva that there used to be months segments of very low temperature, but in these days they could be only a week long. This has happened in some tens of years.

"Work has become riskier as lakes do not get a reliable icecover," he said and added that soft and thin snow would hamper using sledges.

Krista Mikkonen, Finnish Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, said at the publication of the results that ways should be found that the voice of the Samis themselves could be heard more.

Based on the research, an action plan was published to improve the resilience of the traditional livelihood of the Sami people. It includes measures to save traditional knowledge, legislative action and the establishment of an independent cross-scientific Sami climate panel.