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Elder, Traditional Knowledge Holder Ilmari Martikainen Passes On

Ilmari (right) with his wife, Suoma, on the left.

Ilmari (right) with his wife, Suoma, on the left.

Martikainen, who was 77-years-old, worked all his life in the village of Koli as a farmer and small-scale gardener. He was instrumental in securing and establishing the Koli National Park, which is an iconic conservation area unparallalled in its cultural and natural significance to Finland.

Ilmari Martikainen mastered the oral histories, traditions and ways of life of his homeregion. He worked as a guide and interpreter in the Koli area for thousands of visitors over the years. One of his last works was to complete the Herajärvi hiking trail interpretation using visual histories, i.e. videos of the region.

Snowchange worked with Ilmari on the oral histories and cultural heritage of the Vaara-Karjala region between 2011-2013. Since that we maintained close contacts and visits to Ilmari, Suoma and their family. The oral histories and cultural materials of the Martikainen family will be kept and put to good use in the future and we join all of the village of Koli and nationally in mourning.

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January Opens With Heavy Snowfall, Fisheries

One of the surveyed, potential marshmire restoration sites in Eastern Finland, January 2019.

One of the surveyed, potential marshmire restoration sites in Eastern Finland, January 2019.

2019 is underway and the fishery season has begun with the first seines out in Puruvesi yesterday. Work on the Landscape Rewilding and Evenki Atlas continues. First trip of the season out to South Africa for IPCC.

Lauri Hämäläinen from Joensuu

Lauri Hämäläinen from Joensuu

Fishery season has started on the ice in boreal Finland. First seining crews out of Puruvesi caught their first vendace yesterday. This season a new staff person, Lauri Hämäläinen, joins Snowchange as a professional fishermen. He will take lead of many of the Puruvesi activities this season regarding our fish markets. Ice conditions are very bad with only a small amount of steel ice on top of which is heavy snowload.

We are deep in talks regarding many rewilding sites and restoration for 2019. These include relatively intact marshmires, old growth forests and high Arctic sites in Finland. European Investment Bank discusses the 2018 start of the programme on their website.

Together with ELOKA we are almost ready with the Evenki Atlas 1.0. and it will be released in the next few weeks. We are very excited to highlight the nomadic culture from Southern Sakha-Yakutia in this atlas, our partners since 2004.

Snowchange staff will travel to South Africa for the IPCC meetings as well as the launch of the KEPLER EU project in Oslo, Norway. Next round of news towards end of January.

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A New Scientific Article Reviews Role of Traditional Knowledge in Salmon Governance in Norway and Finland: Major Gaps Remain

River Teno is of vital importance to the Sámi as a salmon river. Here ice breakup of April 2006.

River Teno is of vital importance to the Sámi as a salmon river. Here ice breakup of April 2006.

A new article published today in the journal Arctic points to major challenges in the ways traditional knowledge is included in the management of Atlantic salmon in Norway and Finland. Comparing different policy and research approaches in the two countries in relation to international expectations towards traditional knowledge inclusion (i.e. the Convention on Biodiversity and at the Arctic policy level), authors point to remaining gaps and rare examples of success in the inclusion of Sámi knowledge in Atlantic salmon governance.

Through investigating how traditional knowledge comes to matter at local, regional (national) and international levels in Atlantic salmon research and governance approaches in Norway and Finland, Camilla Brattland (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway) and Tero Mustonen (University of Eastern Finland and Snowchange Co-op) reviewed the social robustness of different approaches to salmon knowledge co-production.

River Näätämöjoki is the site of the first co-management in Finland led by the Skolt Sámi. Here Näätämö in June 1975.

River Näätämöjoki is the site of the first co-management in Finland led by the Skolt Sámi. Here Näätämö in June 1975.

The authors argue that expectations at the international policy level towards traditional knowledge integration with science are at times unrealistically high, and hard to meet at local levels and in national policy contexts. Surprisingly, the projects which seem to fulfil Arctic expectations of traditional knowledge co-production with science (projects with high legitimacy), seem to have the least impact on policy, and vice versa. Thus, it is argued for a rethinking of how a legitimate and policy-relevant knowledge co-production process should be conducted.

Questions of legitimacy in the Indigenous context emerge as key indicators of success or failure. Seeing traditional knowledge only as a “data” dismisses Sámi ways of knowing which often position salmon into a larger ecological context of relationships. The review points to major gaps in how traditional knowledge is understood and included in management and research projects. At one end of the scale, it is  is dismissed or marginalized even after attempts to include traditional knowledge in management, there are examples where salmon fishers act as data gatherers and contribute traditional knowledge, and at the other end of the scale, real knowledge co-production results in successful management projects.

Teno ice break-op, April 2006.

Teno ice break-op, April 2006.

The Arctic policy levels, Norwegian and Finnish environmental authorities and salmon conservation science could fruitfully draw lessons from the Näätämö co-management project, which is already referred to as an example of best practice in Arctic environmental governance. Building on specific geographies, rights and Indigenous-led co-production, the Näätämö case has been able to restore ‘lost’ salmonid habitats through ecological restoration of aquatic habitats. This is a measure to alleviate climate impacts as well as a major vehicle of self-esteem and pride in seeing Sámi knowledge in active use of management of salmon basins.

In summary the authors discovered that to achieve social robustness, projects need to balance scientific credibility with legitimacy among local and indigenous rights holders. This might entail giving up on expectations of TEK integration with science, and embracing the undefined spaces within Arctic and Indigenous knowledge production.

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2018 Arctic Biodiversity Congress Captured in a New Discussion Paper

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Staff member, ecologist Philippe Fayt reports from the Arctic Biodiveristy Congress held earlier in the Autumn in Rovaniemi, Finland. Snowchange participated with a presentation on the co-management of the Näätämö watershed. A full report from the event is also available as the Snowchange Discussion Paper #18.

The second Arctic Biodiversity Congress was held in the “Arctic” city of Finland 9thto 12thOctober 2018. Built on the success of the first event held in Trondheim in 2014, the Rovaniemi Congress brought once again together nearly 500 leaders, experts and practitioners from all over the Arctic region to discuss critically and advance major conservation issues facing the Arctic and the world. It featured keynotes from prominent experts in Arctic science and global environmental policy and cooperation but also people from diverse backgrounds such as government representatives, Indigenous Peoples, NGOs, youth and industry.

"There is no time to waste", urgent President Sauli Niinistö of Finland.

“There is no time to waste”, urgent President Sauli Niinistö of Finland.

As part of Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2017 to 2019, the congress was jointly organized by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group of the Arctic Council and the Ministry of the Environment of Finland. To underline the importance of the event, Mr. Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland opened the Congress. Along the conference itself, the Finnish Chairmanship organized an Arctic Environment Ministers’ meeting, first one of its kind in five years. Focusing on climate change, biodiversity and pollution prevention, the high-level meeting gathered delegates from the eight Arctic States and six Permanent Participant organizations representing the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.

The Congress was organised around six main themes, identifies in the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) recommendations for policy:

  1. climate change
  2. ecosystem-based management
  3. mainstreaming biodiversity
  4. addressing individual stressors on biodiversity
  5. identifying and safeguarding important areas for biodiversity
  6. improving knowledge and public awareness

Being particularly involved in the promotion of traditional knowledge for solving environmental crisis, the Snowchange Cooperative was being represented in the Community-based monitoring of Arctic biodiversity session, with a talk on Community-led Monitoring and Ecological Restoration in the North.

Juha Feodoroff restoring the trout spawning areas.

Juha Feodoroff restoring the trout spawning areas.

Using a salmon stock co-management initiative with the Skolt Sámi in Finland as an example, Snowchange representatives illustrated the value of community-based resource management. It was argued that, along with the northwards species distribution changes that accompany climate change, there is a growing need for more dynamic conservation approaches and community-based conservation efforts of Nordic landscapes. The presentation emphasized the need to move from the current local in-situ (e.g., national parks) to a larger-scale ecologically meaningful approach of land governance, with traditional knowledge and know-how ideally complementing scientific expertise outside protection areas. The presentation was made by staff Philippe Fayt and Simone Gress Hansen.

Spanning the entire globe, the Arctic region is home for a highly specialized and diverse cold-adapted biodiversity upon which local hunter-gatherer-fisher communities are closely dependent for their livelihood and cultural identity. On repeated occasions, the importance of the resource-based traditional knowledge of those communities has been put forward as central to the ecologically sound management of the northern resources.

In her opening talk, Tiina Sanila-Aikio, President of the Sámi Parliament of Finland, emphasized the role of Indigenous People as “vital stewards of global biodiversity conservation”, calling for an increasing inclusion of traditional knowledge holders in environmental decision-making.

Snowchange has worked with the ICC since 2001. Here the coastal areas of Alaska, homeland of the Yupiaq and Inupiaq.

Snowchange has worked with the ICC since 2001. Here the coastal areas of Alaska, homeland of the Yupiaq and Inupiaq.

Worldwide the rights of those Indigenous and local communities are not always respected despite the existing United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People adopted in 2007. This is a situation, as described by Dalee Sambo Dorough (the Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council), that undermines Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.

Particularly concerned about how already visible the negative impacts of climate change are in the North, the young generations from various Arctic territories were especially well represented during the meeting and associated discussions in parallel to an Arctic Youth Summit. Their vibrant request for a living future took the form of a collective “Arctic Youth Summit Rovaniemi Declaration” delivered to the ministerial panel participants.

In the statement, the young voices reminded us that limiting climate change should be a worldwide priority by urging leaders to incorporate the youth’s views in decision-making and step up their actions to tackle climate change.

Read here a more in-depth report from ABA Congress. This report summarizes interesting discussions on polar bear situation, co-management, reindeer research and many other highlights from ABA. It is the Snowchange Discussion Paper #18.

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New Community-Based Monitoring Network Detects Urgent Messages of Change from Näätämö and Ponoi Rivers: Fish Death Conditions Possible, Restoration Measures Under Way

Traditional fishermen harvesting flounder in Sosnovka, Kola Peninsula.

Traditional fishermen harvesting flounder in Sosnovka, Kola Peninsula.

New Community-Based Monitoring Network Detects Urgent Messages of Change from Näätämö and Ponoi Rivers – Temperatures Record High and Fish Deaths Imminent but Ecological Restoration Offers Respite to Salmonid Fish.

Ponoi catchment is one of the last preserved wilderness areas in the European North.

Ponoi catchment is one of the last preserved wilderness areas in the European North.

‘Traditional Knowledge of Northern Waters 2018’ project focused on two iconic Arctic river basins in the Fennoscandian and Russian North – the Skolt Sámi home stream of Näätämö river flowing from Finland to the Barents Sea as well as Ponoi river on Kola Peninsula, Russia.

Weather data from Sosnovich station on the Kola coast points to rapid warming, post-1980. Data sets by Brie Van Dam, Snowchange

Weather data from Sosnovich station on the Kola coast points to rapid warming, post-1980. Data sets by Brie Van Dam, Snowchange

A third geographical area of the project was the coastal community of Sosnovka which is in close proximity to Ponoi.

Inland weather warming is also visible in the data sets from Kanevka, Central Ponoi. Data sets by Brie Van Dam, Snowchange

Inland weather warming is also visible in the data sets from Kanevka, Central Ponoi. Data sets by Brie Van Dam, Snowchange

Whitefish health and parasites were monitored in the Näätämö catchment area.

Whitefish health and parasites were monitored in the Näätämö catchment area.

Over 9,000 data items ranging from Indigenous knowledge and oral histories to weather data resulting back to 1863 were produced in the project. The main findings are:

  1.  Climate change is now an urgent reality that is affecting the health of both fish and ecosystems in Näätämö and Ponoi catchment areas as well as Sosnovka. Water temperatures are becoming dangerously warm and threat of fish deaths is real. Record warm spells triggered forest fires both in Finland and in Russia. Threats to salmonide fish, especially Arctic Char, is now imminent and their survival is at stake.
  2. Villages involved have living traditional knowledge and a willingness to observe, report and act on the results.A monitoring network is now in place and should be supported, long-term, to understand climate and ecological change in the basins both from science and traditional knowledge.
    Diatomic algal blooms were detected by Sámi co-researcher Juha Feodoroff (left) and water restoration specialist Janne Raassina (right) in the Vainosjoki subcatchment area.

    Diatomic algal blooms were detected by Sámi co-researcher Juha Feodoroff (left) and water restoration specialist Janne Raassina (right) in the Vainosjoki subcatchment area.

    This includes Indigenous and local customary governance and self-limiting of harvests especially on spawning salmon. Many people expressed their growing concern on the impacts of catch and release practices. Villages have sets of holistic biocultural indicators, often gendered, with which they monitor ecosystems. Women in the villages have special knowledge of the rivers.

  3. Striking similarities in biodiversity changes, especially fish health, emerged from all regions.Whitefish suffer from major parasites, salmon stocks are dwindling, the expansion of the range of Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), introduced species,
    Oral history interviews and community-based monitoring was extended to extremely remote wilderness communities such as Chalme-Varre, a seasonal settlement on Ponoi.

    Oral history interviews and community-based monitoring was extended to extremely remote wilderness communities such as Chalme-Varre, a seasonal settlement on Ponoi.

    is now a reality on both Näätämö and Ponoi as well as Sosnovka river. For the Russian communities, the back-log of Soviet land use and pollution events should be investigated as a long-term driver of change.

  4. Science results, in part beginning from 1863, on water quality, humidity and temperature indicate that Näätämö, Ponoi and Sosnovka are some of the last wilderness areas in the European North. They are for the most part in pristine condition. However the weather data confirms the local observations of the urgency of climate change and creates conditions for fish death and algal bloom events. Summer 2018 was the hottest on record in this area and the project documented the impacts of the warm spells on fish, rivers and water conditions. Statistics show that in Central Ponoi mean temperatures have already risen over 2 degrees.

    Graphs based on Russian science station weather data indicated the anomalies and warming trends on Ponoi. Data sets by Brie Van Dam, Snowchange

    Graphs based on Russian science station weather data indicated the anomalies and warming trends on Ponoi. Data sets by Brie Van Dam, Snowchange

  5. As a first for the Arctic, ecological restoration led by the Indigenous Sámi communities themselves on Näätämö has successfully re-established trout and grayling habitats 
    New spawning areas for trout and grayling

    New spawning areas for trout and grayling

    as measures to combat climate change impacts and alleviate the pressures on the salmonide. This action has been co-funded by the Kone Foundation in Finland.

  • Project Final Report in English is available here. (Large report, 50 mb).
  • Executive Summary of the Project is available here.
  • Russian Summary Report “Voices of Ponoi” in Russian is available here.

This project was led by the Snowchange Cooperative (FI) with House of Culture (Lovozero, Russia) and CBM – Swedish Biodiversity Center being main project partners together with Sámi organisations. Russian and US scientists coperated in the data analysis. Funding was provided by NEFCO PECC-1 Programme.

Children in the wilderness villages painted the "Future of Ponoi", such as this yellow perch in a clean and healthy water.

Children in the wilderness villages painted the “Future of Ponoi”, such as this yellow perch in a clean and healthy water.

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