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January: Fisheries in full swing, Heading to Northern Sweden

Coast of Norton Sound, Alaska, USA

Coast of Norton Sound, Alaska, USA

2017 is here. Ice conditions have improved over the past three weeks which allowed both the commercial seining and net fishing to begin in North Karelia. Temperatures continue to fluctuate however between -30 and +1 C. We carefully monitor the situation in Savoonga, and Norton Sound as well as Bering Straight areas in Alaska after the severe storms swept through the area in early January.

On domestic front Jukajoki restoration began already on 2nd January with caterpillars in the Vehkasuo and Kylmäsuo marshmire areas to address acidity and restore habitats. In Puruvesi the 30 minute documentary film has proceeded to editing phase and is expected out in April-May.

Bald eagle harvesting on a deer in Haida Gwaii, Winter 2008-2009.

Bald eagle harvesting on a deer in Haida Gwaii, Winter 2008-2009.

Näätämö basin and the work with the Skolt Sámi is proceeding well. Soon a major Science article will be out, and for the summer the ecological restoration of habitats in Vainosjoki area is under permitting with the authorities.

On 14th to 18th January we are heading to Northern Sweden, to the CLEO environmental monitoring Workshop in Kiiruna. On the same trip IPBES and Skolt Sámi issues will be discussed. With that, best for the 2017 from Snowchange!

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First ICCA Declared in Finland

Havukkavaara in January

Havukkavaara in January

Snowchange Co-op has been able to register the first community-conserved area (ICCA) in Finland. The Havukkavaara forest located in North Karelia is a south/middle-boreal protected forest with great cultural and historical roots in the region.

The traditional lifeways, some of which persist to this day, have included swidden slash and burn agriculture of the boreal forest, hunting and fishing. Today the economic structure of the village reflects the societal changes of Finnish peripheries, including the service sector. Hunting and fisheries are maintained as a cultural-traditional activity. Notably, the collective moose hunt gathers several hunters together in the autumn, and the village gathers together for the ensuing Moose Feast early November.

img_9191Between 2009 and 2013 the ICCA old growth forest spots became nationally conserved. The two families who own these forests continue to be the land owners. The state agency Metsähallitus is responsible for the administration of the protected areas. The families involved maintain a presence and traditional-cultural subsistence land-uses in the area. One of the families is active in the Selkie village council, the decision-making body for the community. The families maintain the traditional trails inside the protected areas, and benefit from the conservation zones through berry and mushroom picking, hunting, and cultural-spiritual health, among other uses. They have been involved in successfully protected the area against mining in Selkie, a land use that is active in the region. The Havukkavaara ICCA has also been under a licence for diamond exploration, but this license is inactive at present. The current land owners have agreed to register them as the first registered ICCA in Finland to stress the importance of the ICCAs and the last remaining boreal forests for the Finnish villages.

winter5Tero Mustonen, president of Snowchange says: “Most of the old-growth forests in Finland are gone, south of the Arctic Circle. This establishment of the first ICCA in Finland is a positive step towards a new era, where the local and in the Arctic zone, Indigenous communities (the Sámi), can protect and highlight those remaining areas that are vital to their culture, history and traditional land uses. Currently no such recognititions exist nationally. Of special relevance is that we wish to make it more visible that these remaining real, old growth forests are the source of our spiritual-cultural well-being. This is a new view in Finland that needs to be recognized at this time. We want this Havukkavaara to be a positive example to all parties of a new style of community-based conservation that includes culture, history and people into the framework and we are very proud to launch this today, with much thanks also to ICCA Consortium and ICCA Registry and all staff and people involved. Forest is the source of our life, now and in the future.”

The current Havukkavaara ICCA is adjacent to a state-owned “Ostola” lot which is due to be established as a strict conservation area towards 2020. This has the potential to increase the ICCA territory in the future.

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December is here: Heading to Greenland

Kolyma camp

Kolyma camp

December brought participation in the Nordic IPBES Workshop in Seili, Finland. Snowchange will coordinate the Indigenous and local knowledge issues for the report in many locations. A large Workshop in Greenland will be the main event for December.

5th December there will be meetings with seal hunters in Iceland. Then 6th to 9th, December we participate in the partner Workshop of PISUNA and Nordic Resource Management Project in Nuuk, Greenland to present the ecological restoration and monitoring work of Näätämö and Jukajoki river basins and to learn from the Inuit examples.

The recent release of Arctic Resilience Report, featuring our Näätämö river project with the Skolt Sámi, is gathering tremendous media attention, with about 100,000 shares on the Guardian. The media article is available here.

Bering Straight Sea Ice, 2010.

Bering Straight Sea Ice, 2010.

In December we ll be preparing for winter fisheries and planning actions along the Jukajoki basin, where monitoring continues. In ealy January Snowchange delegates will head to Kiiruna, Northern Sweden for traditional knowledge work.

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Major Arctic Resilience Report Out, Includes Snowchange Näätämö Co-Management

Skolts seining

Skolts seining

The Arctic Council has released today the “Arctic Resilience Report”. The document contains materials and research from the Snowchange Näätämö Co-Management Project led by the Skolt Sámi in Northern Finland.

Environmental, ecological, and social changes are happening faster than ever in the Arctic, and are accelerating. They are also more extreme, well beyond what has been seen before. This means the integrity of Arctic ecosystems is increasingly challenged, threatening the sustainability of current ways of life in the Arctic and disruption of global climate and ecosystems: “This report uses the concepts of resilience and social-ecological systems to provide a holistic view of the Arctic. A social-ecological system is the combination of
the human and natural systems in any given place: for example, the Skolt Sámi communities in Finland, and the ecosystem that sustains them, including the salmon in the Näätämö River.”

karas3Snowchange participated in this multi-year assessment through chapter co-authoring, providing materials from the Skolt Sámi -led Näätämö river co-maangement project, operating since 2011, and by reviewing the Indigenous knowledge contents of the report chapters. The report says:

“Skolt Sámi fishing communities have relied on the highly productive salmon population of the Näätämö River, located between Finland and Norway, for decades. Not only are the salmon a source of food, but salmon and salmon fishing are deeply embedded within Skolt Sámi traditions and culture. However, climate change, mining, aquaculture, and tourism development are now threatening the Näätämö River salmon population, and as a result, the Skolt Sámi way of life. The communities have used their traditional holistic view of people and nature to cope with these stresses and to guide efforts to restore the Näätämö River. For example, having more sensitive, locally devised indicators of environmental change than the national regulatory parameters has allowed them to detect and and assess changes in a pre-emptive fashion.”

River Kirakkajoki is the site of the 2017 restoration efforts.

River Kirakkajoki is the site of the 2017 restoration efforts.

The Arctic Resilience Report is the concluding scientific product of the Arctic Resilience Assessment, a project launched by the Swedish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The report is available here.

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Inuit and Chukchi Starlore: A New Discussion Paper Out

Kolyma camp

Kolyma camp

Snowchange publishes a new Discussion Paper, titled “Inuit and Chukchi Star lore: Reflections on Ursa Major, the North Star and Northern Lights”. In this short discussion paper we have investigated the questions of indigenous, endemic star lore and celestial events. More specifically we have looked at Ursa Major and Polaris stars as iconic Arctic constellations as well as the northern lights, or Aurora borealis, which is prominent in all cultural traditional discourses of the North.

summerMaterials have been derived from two long-lasting community-based oral history projects – Igloolik in Canada and Lower Kolyma, Siberia. The Inuit culture in Nunavut is linguistically related to the Lower Kolyma Chukchi, but that region is also home to the Yukaghir, Even and other indigenous peoples.

borealis‘Endemic’ or Indigenous star lore and celestial issues cover knowledge, legends, oral histories and traditions belonging to this realm include, for example:

  • Stars and constellations
  • Naming traditions, myths
  • Endemic relations with the universe, sky, Earth, the environment
  • Sun, moon, eclipses, atmosphere
  • Navigational questions
  • Concepts of time – sun time, star time, ‘new time’, tides
  • Traditional calendars, such as the Inuit 13-month-calendar

The Chukchi materials in the discussion paper have been collected as a part of the oral history and traditional knowledge work connected with the ECORA UNEP project in the Lower Kolyma, Republic of Sakha-Yakutia, Russia. This work was initiated and led by the late Even scholar, Vasilii Robbek, from the Institute of the Indigenous Peoples, Russian Academy of Sciences. The Snowchange Co-op did the oral history documentation and research. The oral history work is on going.

The Discussion paper is available here.

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