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Development of Property Regimes and Institutional Structure for Sustainability in the Saami Reindeer Industry in Norway: A Comparative Study

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Riseth, Jan Åge; Vatn, Arild
Conference: Reinventing the Commons, the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bodoe, Norway
Conf. Date: May 24-28, 1995
Date: 1995
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/607
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: Europe
Subject(s): pastoralism
indigenous institutions
property rights
common pool resources
Abstract: "During the last decades the Saami reindeer production system has gone trough a transition from a mainly subsistence based pastoralism towards a market integrated industry. The development has been clearly different in the central North Saami reindeer districts in Finnmark compared to South Saami districts in Troendelag. The former seems to be in a rather severe ecologic, economic and social crisis due to overgrazing while the latter seem to be rather well adapted to pasture resources and get well off economically. "The paper outlines the main differences in development in the two regions and discusses a set of explanations. We are mainly focusing on the following dimensions: (1) internal factors: ecology , culture and institutions; (2) exogenous pressure: market integration, general social processes and public policy. Generally the traditional common property system seems to be to unsuited to handle the new situation . In the North we observe rising conflicts and undermined old common institutions while in the South institutional innovation have made it possible to cope with new challenges. "Three relations seem to be of special significance when explaining the different development paths. Firstly, differences in size and openness seem to have equipped the two societies with unequal capabilities to handle the transition in mode of production. Secondly, the transition has developed at a different pace in the two areas. Thirdly public policy did not sufficiently take into consideration the different situation in the two regions. "In the North, as a result of the national integration of the local Saami society a set of exogenous forces seem to have put the established norms and rules under pressure. Processes like becoming sedentary, market integration and mechanisation challenged existing norms as they also increased costs. While productivity stayed rather unchanged, the overall result was a need for enlarging the number of reindeer. Public subsidies seem to have accelerated a spiral of investment in reindeer."

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