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Mourning the Loss of Two Prominent Finnish Environmental Thinkers: Markku Aho and Pentti Linkola

Markku Aho, rowing on the left, seining on a lake in Kontiolahti in 2014. Snowchange

Markku Aho, rowing on the left, seining on a lake in Kontiolahti in 2014. Snowchange

Snowchange joins in mourning when two prominent national environmentalists are gone – Markku Aho from North Karelia and fisherman Pentti Linkola from Ritvala in Häme region.

Markku Aho succumbed to cancer in December 2019. He was in his late 60s and was known nationally as one of the founders key personalities of the DeGrowth Movement both regionally (Kohtuus vaarassa) in North Karelia and as well on the national level in Helsinki. Aho worked professionally in the educational sphere of first Eno municipality and later in the Joensuu city administration. However it was his work in helping to establish the Koli National Park (one of the national landscapes of Finland) as well as many other environmental actions that solidified his legacy as a major environmentalist. Snowchange worked with Markku in the Cultural Heritage of Hill Karelia Project 2011-2013 and subsequently in traditional seining and other discussions for years. A irreplaceable loss, indeed.

Fisherman Pentti Linkola during the oral history work in early 2000s. Snowchange / Eero Murtomäki

Fisherman Pentti Linkola during the oral history work in early 2000s. Snowchange / Eero Murtomäki

Fisherman, philosopher and radical thinker Pentti Linkola passed in April 2020. He was born in 1932 and was 87 when he died. Linkola started to work as a professional fisherman in 1959. Throughout his adult life he was an advocate for nature conservation and warned of the dangers of capitalism, population growth and direction the humanity was headed. He remained a stout pessimist to the end of his life not seeing much hope for the world or for humans.

Linkola was also instrumental in surveying and systematically exploring the bird populations from Finland, advancing long-term monitoring data on many key species. For example Lesser Black-Backed Gull (Larus fuscus) was close to Pentti’s heart over the years. He developed several publications outlining plans for a transition to more sustainable society, often requiring radical means. He triggered also vast controversies with his more radical ideas.

Linkola fished in various locations in Southern Finland from the coast to lake Päijänne before settling in Ritvala by lake Vanajavesi where he continued gill netting under the ice  with his horse into the 2000s. Olli Klemola, a Snowchange Elder, fished with Linkola since 1969. Snowchange worked with Linkola on fishermens oral histories of climate change in Pirkanmaa region between 2002-2004. Subsequently Snowchange supported Pentti in buying new nets after the losses of 2004-2005 winter. Between 2005-2020 we stayed in touch, exchanging on nature conservation, fisheries and forest issues. Currently Tero Mustonen, a Snowchange fisherman, is fishing with the fish trap Linkola had in 1970s. Whilst Snowchange is based on more traditional values and perception of nature than what Linkola advocated in his works we recognize the value and staying power of many of the important initiatives Pentti put forwards.

Snowchange joins in mourning of these two prominent environmental thinkers from Finland and cherishes the cooperation and friendships across the years. 

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Warmest Winter on Seining Records Ends with New Fishermen Leading

Lifting the seine

Lifting the seine

Warmest winter on records in Finland has turned to spring with black birds, lapwings and many other migratory birds on their way to the boreal and the Arctic. Seining season for Snowchange crew ended historically short but was uplifted by new fishers taking over.

In Puruvesi lake, home of the Atlantic land-locked Salmon and freshwater Saimaa seal, the winter seining is a UNESCO level traditional fishery. It is fully dependent on proper cryosphere conditions and that is why climate change affects it quickly. To put this into context the start of the seining date as per diaries on Puruvesi for seining:

  • 1968      10 October (earliest) on modern records
  • 1986      20 October
  • by 2007-2011 6th January
  • 2012      6th February (the previous record)
  • 2020      10th March (the new reality with drum seines)
The Snowchange team on the ice.

The Snowchange team on the ice.

However the persistence and motivation of young new fishermen, led by Lauri Hämäläinen, who is undergoing a training as an Apprentice to become a master seiner delivered. Joined by Antoine Scherer and Ari Parviainen as seasonal staff and Elder Markku Tervonen and another seiner Keijo Luostarinen, a short season emerged. Most plentiful catches delivered over 300 kgs of vendace at a time.

Best catch of the winter.

Best catch of the winter.

 

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Lived Displacement among the Evenki of Iyengra

Galina Varlamova, Evenki knowledge holder who passed in 2018 was one of the co-researchers for the paper.

Galina Varlamova, Evenki knowledge holder who passed in 2019 was one of the co-researchers for the paper.

A new peer-reviewed science paper has been released that brings forth the situation of the Evenki of Iyengra in Southern Siberia. Evenki co-researched with Snowchange teams between 2005-2020 both social and environmental change and its meanings.

More specifically, this article studies the Evenki experiences and memories bound to past and present changes in their modes of living in Sakha-Yakutia. An endemic understanding of the community reflections on de-placing, or lived displacement, is advanced, both theoretically and empirically.

The empirical part starts with a description of the Evenki traditions sustained in everyday life today. This is followed by a threefold reading of the Evenki reflections of displacement, focusing on

  • (1) routines of brigades and obchinas
  • (2) transitions of traditions and place names
  • (3) disturbances due to industrial land-use regime.

The analysis is based on Evenki interviews in Iyengra between 2005–2020 and related empirical material gathered for the Evenki Atlas. A major result of the study is an in-depth Evenki view on the phases of displacement. In addition, the article demonstrates the value of endemic ethnography that favours research commitments that are both sensitive to epistemic differentiation and help in identifying the actual costs of forced and unruly de-placing.

Article is available here.

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IPCC WG2 to Collect Indigenous and Local Knowledge

Greenland is melting. Snowchange, 2020

Greenland is melting. Snowchange, 2020

The importance and relevance of Indigenous Knowledge and Local Knowledge in responding to the challenge of anthropogenic climate change is recognized by policymakers and academics. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in its recent Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services underscores the key contributions of Indigenous peoples and local communities to conservation and fostering of biodiversity.

Although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledges the importance of Indigenous Knowledge and Local Knowledge (IKLK), the inclusion of non-published IKLK remains beyond the scope of the Sixth Assessment Report.

This request for submissions seeks contributions from Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to the Global Report of Indigenous Knowledge and Local Knowledge on Climate Change 2020. We expect that this report will document, among other things, how holders of IKLK observe, forecast and respond to anthropogenic climate change. In doing so, the report will constitute an invaluable input to be considered in the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.

Submissions can be made until 31st May, 2020.

Please see here for further instructions.

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Fishing for the Future: Climate and Young Fisherman in Finland

Climate changed winter has hit the fisheries across boreal Finland like never before. Winter seining has been delayed for months, if to begin at all, and ice conditions are a memory of a “normal” winter. Snowchange rises to the challenge with a Master-Apprentice programme and sharing news from the ice.

Below is a multimedia article and an interview video on the ice with Lauri Hämäläinen, the young apprentice fisherman in Snowchange learning ancient skills and specialised fish dishes, such as burbot and ruffe soups. We believe we survive and thrive by expanding traditional knowledge and fisheries to make sure we are on the pulse of the changing ice and the fish we harvest.

Fishing for the Future

Kaisu Mustonen and Antoine Scherer filmed, Hannibal Rhoades and Tero Mustonen scripted and produced. Thanks to all involved.

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