News

Context for Rewilding

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Two new international publications – Society for Ecological Restoration Newsletter and science journal State of the Total Environment discuss Snowchange rewilding work. 

SERNEWS – Volume 36 Issue 2 is dedicated to Traditional Ecological Knowledge in restoration. It features a in-depth review of Finnish context and Sámi situation and how rewilding can realize solutions.

State of the Total Environment summarizes decades of work of Indigenous knowledge, science and mercury in a large review article – Snowchange areas from Jokkmokk, Sweden, Vuotso, Koitajoki and Kemijoki in Finland, Ponoi, Iengra and Kolyma from Siberia featured.

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June News: Partnership with Endangered Landscapes, Evenki Videos, Onkamo

Snowchange Fisher Karoliina Lehtimäki checks the fish traps in June 2022.

Snowchange Fisher Karoliina Lehtimäki checks the fish traps in June 2022.

Summer is here. First fish shipments from Snowchange to Europe have succeeded and we look forwards the developments of the fishery. At home large fish traps are yielding bream, ide and pikeperch. This month Snowchange and the Endangered Landscapes Programme partner on Koitajoki and Evenki Atlas receives the first videos. Lake Onkamo and catchment joins the Landscape Rewilding Programme.

Fisheries are in full swing and we are delivering our “Rewilding Fish” to European markets to support the local communities and rewilding efforts in North Karelia and explore new mechanisms to great high quality fish to the markets. Noora Huusari coordinates this action.

The Endangered Landscapes Programme and Snowchange have formed a partnership regarding Koitajoki. We will come back to this issue later in the year.

Bountiful catch.

Bountiful catch.

Evenki Atlas has been boosted with new oral history videos, accessible here.

Lastly the restoration of lake Onkamo in North Karelia is in a transformation. After almost 15 years of leadership from Tuovi Vaaranta which succeeded to rewild and restore most of the Onkamo basin, the Landscape Rewilding Programme assumes now the continuation of this work. This adds a large, historically important lake system to the rewilding portfolio in North Karelia. We thank Tuovi and look forwards to the collaborations.

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Indigenous knowledge, mercury, and a remote Russian Indigenous river basin—Ponoi River

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A new science article about the mercury and Indigenous knowledge has been published. These Indigenous collaborations happened before the war.

The Ponoi River basin occupies a remote wilderness area in northwestern Russia near the borders of Norway and Finland. It is considered as the most ecologically intact river system in the European North. The communities that occupy the Ponoi basin can be accessed only by aircraft and as such are referred to as “fly-in” communities. These include the communities of Krasnochelye, Sosnovka, Chalme-Varre, and Kanevka, which are home to Indigenous Sámi, Komi, and Russian-Pomor peoples.

During the Soviet era, 1917–91, Ponoi was a part of the Murmansk regional administration under the Soviet regime. This chapter reviews the Indigenous and local-traditional knowledge elements of the basin and focuses on an elusive indicator of environmental change—mercury. The use of the word “Indigenous” indicates association with the original Sámi Indigenous habitants of a place, while “local-traditional” knowledge is associated with traditional land-based activities, for example, of the Komi, Pomor, and other minorities in this river basin.

The Ponoi is an Atlantic Salmon stream, and since the 1990s it has been the primary place where large international salmon tourist companies have operated. This has created equity issues in the fisheries. The chapter is based on a community-monitoring and co-production process that began between the local communities and the non-profit Snowchange Cooperative in 2006.

Given the extreme remoteness of Ponoi, and because of the system changes to the natural environment under way in the Arctic, this chapter is a needed addition to the research on how Indigenous and traditional communities of the Russian North are addressing present shifts in their lives.

The article is here.

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Bhavani River in India Highlighted

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Photo by Surabhi Nadig

Snowchange has partnered with local ecologists and villagers to investigate the possibilities for community-led rewilding in India – in the Bhavani river catchment.

A year of preliminary discussions, baseline investigations and community visits has been completed.

The work has included original, primary eco-mapping, community meetings with fishers, farmers and other local people and assessment of the drivers of the river health.

See here for the results.

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First Rewilding Center Opens in Finland: Snowchange Has a New HQ

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Today the municipality of Tohmajärvi in North Karelia has sold the former school of Tietäväinen to Snowchange. The first rewilding center of Finland has been thus established.

3The Tietäväinen school is located on the Asematie in the municipality of Tohmajärvi, a famous Karelian location. It has 2000 m2 of space. The building was originally built in 1971 and underwent large renovations in 2004 and 2017. It has several classrooms, a 160 seat auditorium for conferences and concerts and a fully equipped kitchen.

The building will be repurposed to house several Snowchange key work processes:

  • fish storage and fish processing
  • conferences and workshops
  • public exhibits about the rewilding programme and Snowchange work over the past 20 years
  • equipment depot
  • Indigenous and traditional knowledge oral history archives

The organizational HQ will be transferred to Tohmajärvi, which is appr. 50 km from Selkie. Snowchange continues to operate field bases in Lieksa, Selkie, Mönni, Ilomantsi and other locations in North Karelia.

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