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The Arctic, Africa and Australia United: Indigenous and Traditional-Led Restoration Key to Global Crisis

Chief Edwin Ogar

Chief Edwin Ogar

Today, led by Chief Edwin Ogar from Nigeria as the main author, One Earth journal has released our strategic paper on Indigenous and traditional knowledge -led conservation and rewilding paper. It outlines a global roadmap for survival.

Titled “Science Must Embrace Traditional and Indigenous Knowledge to Solve Our Biodiversity Crisis“, the paper reviews community-led actions for biodiversity and rewilding from the Arctic, Africa and Australia. It discusses the problems of the past in working with science and Indigenous knowledge and outlines several steps for the future.

Chief Edwin Ogar from Nigeria discusses the critical success of securing and maintaining the 33,600 hectares of intact forest in Nigeria against all odds, whilst daily offensive and illegal logging go on. Prf. Gretta Pecl discusses work and success in Australia, including Snowchange -related partners of Djunbunti rangers restoring the East Trinity Reserve in Queensland. The Arctic case is focusing on the Sámi-led rewilding of river Vainosjoki that was completed using Indigenous knowledge and science.

The article is available here.

Marshmires are key carbon sinks in the high Arctic. Snowchange 2020

Marshmires are key carbon sinks in the high Arctic. Snowchange 2020

 

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Major Breakthrough For Climate in Finland: Kivisuo Marshmire Secured

Näkymä Kivisuolta

Land is Life, Snowchange and the Landscape Rewilding Programme have partnered to secure Kivisuo, a biodiversity hotspot of 1517 acres (614 hectares). It is a mostly intact boreal peatland / marshmire as well as a major carbon sink in the Sub-Arctic in Finland.

Kivisuo (“Marshmire of Stones“) is a biodiversity hotspot located in the villages of Muhos and Utajärvi. It is a part of 20 kilometer wide string of peatlands which are major carbon storages (accumulated since last Ice Age and / or glacial uplift). Kivisuo is a natural carbon sink, alleviating Northern climate change using natural means.

Näkymä Kivisuolta

It secures the well-being, land uses and traditional knowledge of the area. Kivisuo is also the home of Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) and rare wader birds. It is therefore of European-level importance.

Kivisuo is a symbol of the change we need in the North to secure intact habitats for communities and to fulfill their rights in conservation, to rewild and restore past damages and to increase natural sinks wherever we can“, says Tero Mustonen from Snowchange. He adds: “I wish to thank Land is Life and Roland Göhde in Germany for their unwavering actions during this process of securing Kivisuo for the Landscape Rewilding Programme.

Näkymä Kivisuolta

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What is a River? International Book Explores Indigenous-Led Resurgence in Sámi Area and in Kogui, Columbia

New spawning areas on Vainosjoki, Näätämö basin

New spawning areas on Vainosjoki, Näätämö basin

What is a River?

This and other deep questions are explored when international research confirms that biodiversity benefits from the rights and knowledge of indigenous peoples. A new book discusses examples that range from the Näätämöjoki Skolt Sámi co-management experiences in Finland to Kogui ecological governance in northern Colombia. Snowchange rewilding work is summarized for over a decade of work.

Seining in Sevettijärvi. Hannibal Rhoades

Seining in Sevettijärvi. Hannibal Rhoades

An international, peer-reviewed book published today in the prestigious science publisher Routledge series ”Indigenous Wellbeing and Enterprise: Self-Determination and Sustainable Economic Development” compiles multidisciplinary case studies on indigenous peoples and biodiversity. The co-management experiences of the Skolt Sámi people of the Näätämöjoki River are included, as are the to-date little-known Kogui of the Sierra Nevada mountains of Colombia.

The book is edited by Canadian professors Rick Colbourne (Carlton University) and Robert B. Anderson (University of Regina). From Finland, contributions to the book have been written by Skolt Sámi expert Pauliina Feodoroff and Adjunct Professors Aili Pyhälä (University of Helsinki, Development Studies) and Tero Mustonen (Snowchange Cooperative, IPCC).

In the case of Finland, Feodoroff and Mustonen question the ways of how can a river be known. The focus is on the Arctic Näätämöjoki river. Utilizing limnology, geography, ecology, ichthyology, and Skolt Sámi traditions equally, the case study shows that there are essences and particularities of the river that only the deepest circles of Sámi indigenous knowledge can shed light on. On the other hand, this kind of dialogue between in-depth local knowledge and science requires long-term, confidential and interactive cooperation building on trust.

Coastal fjords are a Sámi socio-ecological system. Näätämö is the interface between the Barents Sea and Skolt Sami lands.

Coastal fjords are a Sámi socio-ecological system. Näätämö is the interface between the Barents Sea and Skolt Sami lands.

The meta-level layout of Näätämö’s case study is a framework portraying the ways in which nature is known as reflecting the use, monitoring and protection of natural resources. The work is at the same time a multidisciplinary analysis of the development of Finnish modernism and natural resources policies (which has relied mainly on expert and scientific snapshots for decision-making), and a long essay on cultural change, fishing, gendered and embodied nature experience and knowledge, and ultimately about the ways in which moral rights define our interaction with the nature(s) of Näätämöjoki river. Importantly, this case portrays the first ever complete restoration and rewilding of an Arctic river system based on Skolt Sámi knowledge and science, and the rehabilitation of the Vainosjoki catchment area in the Näätämö catchment area.

The case study includes a detailed analysis of the analysis of post-war natural resource policy and environmental problems, but turns to examine what Näätämö means and is as a river for the Skolt Sámi. At the same time, the knowledge of indigenous peoples signals that the scale of the current problems has not yet been fully realized, even though new ways of knowing, such as through biocultural approaches, are improving this.

The chapter also brings national natural resources and environmental research into a dialogue at the crossroads of linguistic-ecological empiricism, languages and dialects, traditional knowledge, corporeality, gendered knowledges, loss and emplacement. Through the Näätämö case, the book questions how the interpretation and monitoring of ecosystems that are in the midst of large drivers of change (external and internal land use, climate change, long-term pollution, plastics, etc.) could be renewed in order to consult, co-learn, and find solutions to “wicked” problems, by listening to and accepting traditional Sámi knowledge.

Aili Pyhälä on the ice of Puruvesi lake, North Karelia, Finland, 2019.

Aili Pyhälä on the ice of Puruvesi lake, North Karelia, Finland, 2019.

Aili Pyhälä, in turn, takes an even more critical perspective to the broader notion of ‘development’, and demonstrates the blatant oxymoron inherent to the notion of “sustainable economic development” as it is framed in and imposed by the global political and economic system onto biocultural settings like the Sierra Nevada, where it is neither fitting nor welcome.

The chapter by Pyhälä explores the tensions between indigenous self-determination on the one hand, and supposed “development” interventions and impositions on the other, amongst the Kogui peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. This dynamic is examined by juxtaposing the sustainable modes of socio-ecological and spiritual governance of the ancestral territory of the Kogui, with past and continued encroachment on land and sacred sites through land-grabbing and extractivism, attempted assimilation, and unsustainable tourism.

Pyhälä sheds light on what the Kogui themselves have to say with regard to ‘development’, highlighting the rights they have to their own sustainable and alternative pathways. The chapter presents recommendations on how to tackle current complexities whilst supporting the socio-environmental rights and self-determination of the Kogui.

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Indigenous-Led Rewilding Realises Sámi Land Rights in Näätämö Area

A view from the 2020 site. Snowchange, 2020

A view from the 2020 site. Snowchange, 2020

Snowchange and the Indigenous Skolt Sámi have worked to secure key forest areas from the open markets to return to Sámi-led rewilding and use areas in Sevettijärvi, Finland. In June 2020 with recent additions, over 150 hectares of OGF forests are under the Landscape Rewilding Programme.

The new Samirs rewilding sites contain streams, lakes and marsh mires. Snowchange, 2020

The new Samirs rewilding sites contain streams, lakes and marsh mires. Snowchange, 2020

In Finland there are no specific Indigenous land or water rights. Industrial and third-party land uses are affecting the Sámi potential and possibilities to manage, govern and decide on the traditional use areas. In order to address these gaps, beginning in 2019 and expanded in June 2020, Snowchange and the Skolt Sámi coordinators managed to secure three key forest locations in the village of Sevettijärvi into the Landscape Rewilding Programme.

Between 2015 and 2019 Skolt Sámi and Snowchange enabled the full restoration and rewilding of the Vainosjoki river catchment that had been altered in the 1960s and 1970s. Additionally rewilding plans have been completed for lake Sevettijärvi and river Kuosnijoki, altered water bodies slated for rewilding in 2020s.

Thanks to the Landscape Rewilding Programme and a range of key donors Snowchange has been able to extent the rewilding actions now to OGF forests in the area.

This has included, by mid-June 2020:

  • Securing three separate key forest lots, with a total of 150 hectares along the Sevettijärvi lake and Kirakkajärvi lake systems with a key site added in June 2020 (Musta-ahvenlampi).
  • Development of co-management and co-governance tools for these sites that will be presented to the village of Sevettijärvi, COVID permitting, in August 2020.
  • Bird, plant and carbon surveys and stock taking: Given that these locations are marked and internationally important carbon sinks in the north boreal, Snowchange has calculated the GHG inventories also on these key habitats and the interface between boreal forest and freshwater lakes in the climate change issues. In 2020 microplastics surveys will commence on the aquatic ecosystems.
  • Skolt Sámi histories of the sites and historical uses of timber resources
  • Management plans and uses of these areas will be jointly governed and utilize Sámi Indigenous knowledge.

Landscape Rewilding Programme and Skolt Sámi moved to enable these sites to be a Skolt Sámi -use areas (and eventually transitioning to the Sámi in full) given that the region is facing third party and large-scale industrial development plans, especially in the form of the Arctic Railway.

Marshmires are key carbon sinks in the high Arctic. Snowchange 2020

Marshmires are key carbon sinks in the high Arctic. Snowchange 2020

In order to make sure Indigenous rights and free, prior and informed consent is fully realised in the future, Snowchange is also, following Skolt Sámi decisions and guidance, in the process of registering these rewilding sites as Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas – ICCAs under the UNEP registry towards 2021.

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Tongaporutu Maori and Snowchange Form Official Relations and Expand Rewilding

Ngā Hapū o Poutama community with Mt. Taranaki in the background. Photo: Eero Murtomäki, Snowchange

Ngā Hapū o Poutama community with Mt. Taranaki in the background. Photo: Eero Murtomäki, Snowchange

Ngā Hapū o Poutama, a Maori community on the SW side of the North Island, Aoteoroa (New Zealand) and Snowchange Cooperative have been working together on questions of Indigenous knowledge, climate change, community development and many other aspects since 2008Today, Ngā Hapū o Poutama and Snowchange sign a far-reaching agreement on formalizing relations and expanding rewilding efforts in the region.

Ngā Hapū o Poutama is a Maori community located close to Taranaki. Snowchange delegates visited first there in 2008 when the Snowchange 2008 Conference was organized in the region. Now in June 2020, the parties have signed a sweeping agreement to expand actions together. The agreement includes

  • Ngā Hapū o Poutama joining as a full member in the Snowchange network of member communities
  • an increased role in the international participation of Ngā Hapū o Poutama in Snowchange global events from now on
  • Widening Indigenous-knowledge -led restoration, rewilding and conservation efforts especially in the planned Poutama Park area. This is connected also with the Landscape Rewilding Programme of Snowchange forming a global network of rewilded sites led by Indigenous and traditional knowledge.
  • Educational and youth initiatives to support Maori knowledge transfers and revitalization of Maori knowledge

Ngā Hapū o Poutama spokesperson Russell Gibbs recently highlighted the role and importance of land-based communities in times like the COVID where food security and survival become major questions. Strengthening direct relations and a membership in the Snowchange global network is a logical step in this regard too.

Tero Mustonen, President of Snowchange added: “Snowchange - Ngā Hapū o Poutama relations are already one of a closely-knit family. Our old people and past and present members have visited and exchanged. This is a logical next step. Ngā Hapū o Poutama delegates have been hosted also here in our villages in Finland. Taking these steps of unity to increase relations, adding resources for Indigenous-led work in Aoteoroa and healing the damages to the land using Indigenous-led rewilding are front and center in Snowchange work. We salute our relatives at Ngā Hapū o Poutama and welcome them as permanent members to Snowchange. As in Aoteoroa – Kia ora!

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