Northern reindeer have nowhere to graze


The reindeer herd they have a long history in northern Norway, Sweden and Finland and have shaped the mountainous landscape of the region called Fenoscandinavia – which includes the Scandinavian and Kola peninsulas, Karelia and Finland. Now, a study published in Scientific reports shows that most of these lands are threatened by the expansion of human activities towards the north.

The authors of the book used a large-scale integrated geographic information system (GIS) in three countries: Norway, Sweden and Finland. Their results indicate that approximately 60% of the region in which these animals forage is subject to multiple pressures, and 85% is exposed to at least one pressure. This drastically reduces the size and quality of the reindeer grazing area in summer. The study revealed that only 4% of the area remains unchanged.

“In Northern Fennoscandinavia, we are fortunate to still have one of the oldest reindeer herding systems in Europe, where these ruminants can roam freely in 40% of Norway, Sweden and Finland. Or at least they did. With the increase in human presence on several fronts, the survival of the Nordic reindeer herds is threatened.points Marianne Stossel, first author of the study and researcher at Stockholm University.

Northern reindeer, grazing and plant biodiversity

The problem is not new and the scientific community had already warned of the risks. According to Marianne Stoessel, “The novelty is that we have finally managed to get an overview of these pressures over the entire area. It was not easy, as different land uses operate at different scales and can be very dynamic. Additionally, predators and effects of climate change in pasture”says Marianne Stoessel.

“It is a key process for maintaining plant biodiversity, even in the mountains. It was therefore important that we study the extent of these cumulative pressures, taking into account the summer pastures, where the reindeer feed.comment Regina Lindbergco-author of the study and coordinator of the research project.

Due to the large magnitude of these pressures in the region and climate change, this study suggests a high risk of vegetation and landscape change in the future, leading to a concentration of reindeer grazing in less disturbed areas and to the invasion of trees and shrubs in the most altered. The study is part of the research project “The interactive effects of land use and global warming on rangelands in northern Fennoscandia”.

Character font: SINC Agency

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