February Expands Actions on the Wild Forest Reindeer

Wild forest reindeer, Ari Autio, used with permission

February is here and includes actions to support wild forest reindeer, welcoming a new staff member and fisheries on the ice.

In early 2024 we have been able to secure appr. 84 hectares of important rewilding territories in Lauvuskylä, Kuhmo, NE Finland. These land purchases support the eastern herd of the wild forest reindeer (rangifer).

These sites include Kuumunsuo, a pristine 44 hectare peatland which is important habitat for calving and seasonal use for the reindeer. Additionally we welcome biologist Cindy Schwenk to work on the land use patterns, science materials and traditional knowledge associated with the wild reindeer, until September at least.

Fisheries in Puruvesi are in full swing and Snowchange seining teams are working to focus on the seasonal harvests. Spring and sun are soon here again!

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Ahousaht / Nuu-chah-Nulth Visit Starts the Year

John Rampanen

Snowchange welcomes a large delegation from the Nuu-chah-Nulth people from British Columbia, Canada. The delegation, led by n̓aasʔałuk (John Rampanen) will participate through the Oceans Wide relief programme to immerse in a range of cultural heritage, fisheries and restoration processes. Rampanen will travel with his whole family to North Karelia for 3 weeks.

n̓aasʔałuk (John Rampanen) with his wife Nitanis and children have advanced Indigenous food security and sovereignty and cultural revitalization of their peoples for decades. Currently John serves as the Ahousaht’s Elected Chief Councillor for the 2022 – 2026 Council Term.

n̓aasʔałuk (John Rampanen) comes from ʕaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) and qiłcmaʔatḥ (Keltsmaht) ancestry within the nuučaan̓uł (Nuu-chah-nulth) territory on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. He is a Cultural Consultant, Historian and, Decolonial Strategist that is actively involved with Language & Cultural Revitalization specializing in areas of: spirituality, medicinal practice and plants, history, traditional governance and indigenous foods.  n̓aasʔałuk is also an Independent Instructor with the University of Victoria where he develops and offers land-based approaches to language immersion through a nuučaan̓uł lens. 

A former founding member of the West Coast Warrior Society, he is also an advocate and activist with a firm stance on Indigenous sovereignty. As a father of eight, he shares a family-oriented approach toward cultural revitalization and believes firmly that language and connecting with land is the key to the future wellbeing for indigenous peoples. 

Rampanen family including John Sr. have been in contact for over a decade and Snowchange welcomes the Rampanens to Karelia for an extensive visit!

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Year Ends with A Record Warm Arctic

2023 ends with a Snowchange collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – USA on the Arctic Report Card. Warmest summer on record, but also highlights to the rewilding programme.

NOAA’s 2023 Arctic Report Card documents new records showing that human-caused warming of the air, ocean and land is affecting people, ecosystems and communities across the Arctic region, which is heating up faster than any other part of the world.

Summer surface air temperatures during 2023 were the warmest ever observed in the Arctic, while the highest point on Greenland’s ice sheet experienced melting for only the fifth time in the 34-year record. Overall, it was the Arctic’s sixth-warmest year on record. Sea ice extent continued to decline, with the last 17 Septembers now registering as the lowest on record. These records followed two years when unprecedented high abundance of sockeye salmon in western Alaska’s Bristol Bay contrasted with record-low Chinook and chum salmon that led to fishery closures on the Yukon River and other Bering Sea tributaries. 

“The overriding message from this year’s report card is that the time for action is now,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. “NOAA and our federal partners have ramped up our support and collaboration with state, tribal and local communities to help build climate resilience. At the same time, we as a nation and global community must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are driving these changes.”

Over the last two decades, the Finnish nonprofit Snowchange Cooperative has restored dozens of sites, positively influencing 128,000 acres (52,000 hectares) of peatlands and forest damaged by decades of industrial harvesting and forest management.

The restoration demonstrates a globally relevant climate solution that increases carbon storage, preventing greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere. The restored peatlands are also restoring water quality and bringing back fish and birds, a vital food source and draw for ecotourism.

The annual Arctic Report Card, now in its 18th year, is the work of 82 authors from 13 countries. It includes a section titled Vital Signs, that updates eight measures of physical and biological changes, four chapters on emerging issues and a special report on the 2023 summer of extreme wildfires.

Please also check out New York Times article and video about the ARC.

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Home of the Bean Geese, Valkeasuo Peatland and Advancements over 1000 hectares Crown the Rewilding Autumn

The autumn work of Landscape Rewilding Programme draws close. Over 1000 hectares of restored landscapes including strict protected areas in the order of 500 hectares have expanded the rewilding targets considerably. 

NABU Climate Fund in Germany, that is part of Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (the oldest and largest environment association in Germany) provided direct, substantial and breakthrough funding for the Valkeasuo peatland complex. Valkeasuo is a nationally relevant bird habitat and important climate stabilisation area. It is one of the nesting areas of the Bean Goose in Eastern Finland. In total 456 hectares of Valkeasuo will be restored in 2024, representing national level relevance.

In other Koitajoki locations, thanks to the Endangered Seascapes and Landscapes Programme, Kaitoinsuo, Rahesuo, Haravasuo and other peatlands in close vicinity of Valkeasuo were restored, in the order of 850 hectares. Out of these, over 200 hectares were strictly protected legally.

In the Sámi forest areas over 150 hectares were added to the Landscape Rewilding Programme, including some of the timberline forests. Some of the sites have never been logged. These Indigenous cultural landscapes together with the Skolt Sámi restoration efforts in lake Sevettijärvi and in the North Sámi forest of Altto-oja continued.

A 70-hectare Altto-oja forest which was partially logged in 1990s but that also contains remaining old-growth forests, was added to the Landscape Rewilding Programme in 2023 with joint management. This protects the remaining primary forest segments. Using oral histories, Indigenous knowledge (cultural indicators of good ecological quality and maintenance of key species such as aspen), and science, Snowchange and the Sámi inventoried the logged areas and developed targets for forest comeback, guided by the Sámi use of the landscape for reindeer herding and non-timber forest products. Altto-oja forest is emerging as a valuable example for how affected Sámi forests can be restored using science and Indigenous knowledge.

All in all over 1000 hectares of sites advanced the Landscape Rewilding Programme in the Autumn.

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Koitajoki River Seining Featured

Lauri Hämäläinen seines on Koitajoki, 2022

The Endangered Landscapes and Seascapes Programme is featuring the unique Koitajoki river seining that Snowchange supports. Koitajoki is the only river in Finland where the ancient fishery practice of river seining is still practiced. This World Fisheries Day, Irma and Reino, two of the few remaining practitioners of this endangered tradition, share their story of a changing river and the action they took to restore its depleted whitefish stocks.  

Situated on the Finnish-Russian border, the Koitajoki cross-border river system is known for its unique whitefish population (Coregonus lavaretus), one of the few naturally breeding stocks in Finland. For generations, residents have employed a distinctive method called river seining to catch this special fish, reflecting a longstanding tradition along the Koitajoki banks.

Read the whole story here.

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