Perspective at the Saami-Norwegian Case of Co-Management in the Reindeer Industry: Regional Failure and Success at the End of the Old Millenium

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2000

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Abstract

"The Sámi is recognized as the indigenous people of Northern and Middle Fennoscandia and the Kola Peninsula. The reindeer has been an important source of living since prehistoric times, and currently the reindeer industry is still an important resource for the sustenance of Sámi culture and identity. It has a mixed management regime where the pasture resource regulated by common property produces inputs to the production functions of individual owners. Through the old Millenium Saami (Sámiland) have been gradually been colonized by the nation-states of the current Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, and finally incorporated with the state borders established in the 18th and the 19th centuries. "The experiences from the Sámi-Norwegian case should be viewed in a particular perspective. In 1976 the Norwegian government and the Association of Norwegian Reindeer Herding Sámi (NRL) signed a Main Agreement for the Reindeer Industry establishing the basis for a new co-management system which still is at work parallel with regulation by law. The intentions included promoting good resource utilization and sustaining the industry as a part of Sámi culture. What is striking, is the variation in the achievements of the Sámi-Norwegian system. To a considerable extent the outcome follows a regional pattern. During the 1980s the southernmost regions experienced a prosperity without overgrazing, while the northernmost regions encountered both low income and an increasing overgrazing of vulnerable lichen pastures due to a 150 % growth in animal numbers (Riseth and Vatn, 1998). The well-intended scheme seems to have been successful for not much more than a decade and only for a part of the Norwegian segment of Saami. The paper will analyze possible reasons for this by means of IAD Framework and models developed a recent Ph. D dissertation, (Riseth, 2000). The explanations suggested include differences in nature, geography, culture, and historical inter-ethnic relations. As a conclusion the most important factors seem to have been the physical features of the pastures, and the society's capacity for increasing its institutional capacity. The natural conditions for adapting to the technological change seem to have been more in favor of stabilizing strategies in the South. Furthermore, the South Sámi were also better prepared than their fellows in the North."

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IASC, common pool resources, indigenous institutions, grazing, reindeer, institutional analysis, institutional analysis--IAD framework, co-management, culture

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