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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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Landscape Rewilding Programme Receives a Major Grant from Kone Foundation: More Sinks and ICCAs to be Created

Western Yellow Wagtail on Linnunsuo, a restored wetland in Karelia. Mika Honkalinna /Snowchange

Western Yellow Wagtail on Linnunsuo, a restored wetland in Karelia. Mika Honkalinna /Snowchange

Landscape Rewilding Programme in Finland has received a major support from the Finnish Kone Foundation. They have provided an additional 200,000 € grant for the expansion of the efforts to restore forests and wetlands in Finland for 2019-2023.

The Landscape Rewilding Programme was launched in June 2018. It is a joint effort by Rewilding Europe, European Investment Bank and Snowchange to restore and rewild large wetland and forest areas. These sites then will emerge as biodiversity hotspots, carbon sinks and (I)CCAs, community-conserved areas. By December 2018 350 hectares have been restored with an expectation of 600 ha by Summer 2019. By 2030s the Programme is expected to have restored up to 50,000 ha in minimum. It is the largest single restoration programme in Finnish history on private lands by non-state actors.

Snowy owl lives in the close proximity to the Arctic restoration sites. Photo: Eero Murtomäki

Snowy owl lives in the close proximity to the Arctic restoration sites. Photo: Eero Murtomäki

The Kone Foundation grant is very crucial at a critical time of the programme and we are very thankful for this support“, says Tero Mustonen from Snowchange. “It will allow to expand our efforts both in the boreal and in the Sámi forest restoration in the high Arctic. Preservation, restoration and creation of community-conserved areas is crucial at this time in human history. While the sites are currently located in Finland, we are in talks to expand the programme to Canada and Russia over the next few years. Already the restored sites in Finland play a global role as bird nesting areas and carbon sinks of global relevance“, Mustonen adds.

Previous supporters in 2018 of the programme include Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, private donors and businesses as well as the Christensen Fund for the North American efforts for 2019. Funding talks are on-going.

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Wave Knowledge, Traditional Wisdom Captures Steps for Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Heritage of Fisheries

Fishtrap out in the Perämeri

Fishtrap out in the Perämeri

This report “Wave Knowledge, Traditional Wisdom” captures voices and aspects from the first Traditional Knowledge Workshop under the Interreg CHERISH project held in Tornio, Finland in September 2018. From the sub-Arctic to Greece traditional Ecological Knowledge across Europe gets discussed.

The main objective of the CHERISH project is to improve regional development policies to protect and promote cultural heritage in fishing communities, in order to boost the attractiveness of these regions for businesses, citizens and tourists. The Snowchange Cooperative, a non-profit science organisation based in Finland, is an advisory partner working within the CHERISH Project. The role of Snowchange is to focus on regional co-learning, utilizing traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) as part of the cultural heritage of the seven partner regions fishers and fishing communities.

Snowchange will aim to foster regional co-learning and policy-relevancy of traditional ecological knowledge, combined with cultural heritage, with all partner regions of the CHERISH project. This will be achieved through the implementation of three TEK Workshops, the first of which was held in Tornio Finland 5th – 6th September 2018.

Selkäsarvi island

Selkäsarvi island

The first TEK Workshop as part of the CHERISH project aimed to accomplish the following objectives: 

  • The introduction of the central concepts, work methods and inter-regional definitions of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in the context of CHERISH
  • The mechanisms of co-learning and links between traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and cultural heritage of fisheries
  • The support for strategic plans of the participating regions in the context of TEK and cultural heritage
  • Demonstration of concrete examples of TEK work and context in the North Baltic with a practical excursion out to the Perämeri Marine National Park.
Whitefish roasted. Hannibal Rhoades, used with permission

Whitefish roasted. Hannibal Rhoades, used with permission

The report is divided into six parts. First the project purpose and scope as well as the key organisations are introduced. Then elements of traditional ecological knowledge will be discussed with some key aspects devoted to marine environments. Fourth section will discuss regional aspects of the topic across the European space. Fifth section contains some concerns and challenges regarding TEK work in the project and lastly summaries and recommendations are included. Appendix to the report includes a system outline of a TEK project that may be of use in the policy-learning and inter-regional work of the project.

The report is available here.

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The Ecologist and POLITICO Report on Snowchange

Swan tracks. Mika Honkalinna / Snowchange

Swan tracks. Mika Honkalinna / Snowchange

The Ecologist is running a longer piece, building on several Snowchange connections, on the need of a new era in conservation: “Our current, dominant forms of conservation are not equal to the task of responding to these new realities; we need urgent reforms.”

The article proposes three-step process: dynamic, endemic and rewilded in order to provide both more equal and more effective actions regarding biodiversity and climate actions.

The article is co-written with Professor Ari Lehtinen who is Professor of Geography at the University of Eastern Finland where his research and teaching focus is on the politics of forests in the age of globalisation, urban renewal and environmental change. In his work Ari examines the ongoing multiscalar internationalisation of the forest industry by analysing and comparing the profiles of major companies.

Politico, EU news outlet, discusses Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and his Arctic initiatives. Article contains also Snowchange commentaries on these policies, available here.

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Reports and a Declaration from Greenland on Traditional Knowledge, ICCA Summit in Ethiopia

ICCA summit was held in Ethiopia.

ICCA summit was held in Ethiopia.

Two staff members, Simone Gress Hansen (DK) and Antoine Scherer (FR) participated as Snowchange delegates in high-level events over the last week. Simone travelled to the traditional knowledge summit in Greenland and Antoine attended ICCA Consortium General Assembly in Ethiopia. Reports follow below.

The Workshop “Traditional Livelihoods in a Global Reality” was held in Nuuk, capital of Greenland in early November. It was organised by KNAPK, Association of Hunters and Trappers of Greenland, a Snowchange partner.

Wildlife management in Greenland has, since colonial times, been under the authority of the Provincial Councils of South and North Greenland and the Hunting Council of Thule. No wildlife species has been under threat. Inclusion of user knowledge (indigenous knowledge) is stated in the Greenland hunting act, though, international management and advice fora only use scientific knowledge as a base for decisions, and Greenlandic users have very limited possibility to influence these.

IMG_1959Hunting is an important part of the formal and informal economy for many Greenlanders. Especially in parts where the most important fishing industry has no facilities. Sustainable management of living resources rely on substantial knowledge of the resource, and that is not available in many parts of Greenland and the Arctic, furthermore, the Arctic environment is changing rapidly and unpredictably. In the management legislation of living resources in the Arctic Council and Convention on Biodiversity, traditional knowledge is stated as absolutely important for a successful management.

IMG_1934In Greenland, Inuit has never by their own, driven any species to extinction. The earliest written legislation from the early twentieth century for the Greenland living resources (eider duck), relied on local monitoring and management. That legislation was later replaced and now the hunting act states that hunter’s knowledge should be included in the management and further rules can be implemented, the latter has not happened yet.

In a rapidly changing environment it is crucial to have updated information to respond timely to changes, by local monitoring and management that relies on local monitoring, a system should be operating, that sets clear and simple rules for the implementation of local monitoring.

Despite formulations and agreements nationally and internationally about inclusion of user knowledge in wildlife management, many management actions has proven that this is not the case, most likely because of user knowledge not meeting the demand of western science reproducibility. The ultimate goal of this project is to assess possible ways for indigenous knowledge holders to influence management decisions.

20181106_111332Simone reports from the event:

“I participated at the KNAPK workshop in Nuuk on behalf of Snowchange Cooperative. The workshop went really well. We were around 50 people participating; both scientist, government representatives and students, however most were fishermen and hunters coming from all over Greenland (Nanortalik, Qaanaaq, Uummannaq, Upernavik, Qeqertasuaq, Attu, Kangaamiut, Nuuk, Paamiut, Narsaq, Kulusuk and Ittorqqortoomiit) from the local KNAPK hunting councils.

The theme of the first workshop day was “Monitoring programmes and their connection to management“. Firstly, Lene Kielsen Holm from The Greenland Institute of Natural Resources gave a presentation about the use of Indigenous knowledge in Arctic research. Amongst other stressing the importance of getting elementary schools and kids engaged in the climate change discussion, and teaching them about the changes and consequences they are facing in their own regions. As Lene put it, “When I think back, we were taught more about the monkeys in Africa than about our own environment”.

Following Henry Huntington from Ocean Conservancy, Alaska gave a presentation about user knowledge and wildlife management experiences from Alaska. He argues that what is especially missing is true collaboration from beginning to end, increased involvement in EIAs and the ability to recognize BS from reliable information.

Following Lene and Henry, I gave a presentation about Community-based monitoring in the Arctic, the Näätämö management and restoration programme and the work performed by Snowchange.

Per Ole Frederiksen (Nuunoq) and Pâviârak gave a presentation about the local experiences from Attu by participating in PISUNA. Discussing the issue of “being managed by the outside” resulting in poor management that needlessly conflicts with the livelihood of the community. Pâviârak stated that patience is the greatest virtue in the setup of a successful CBM programme. He used the example from Näätämö to prove his point “Vladimir started the fight in the 1960s, when the river was altered by the authorities- Now, today it is his daughter Pauliina who is leading the restoration project!

As the last presenter of the day before panel discussions and group work, Fernando Ugarte (the head of Dept. of birds and mammals Greenland Institute of Natural Resources) presented how GINR use local knowledge in their work. I must say, he had a difficult job at the workshop, since many of the hunters and fishermen were questioning the findings of GINR and the way GINR involve locals and include local knowledge in their research. However, I think it was very important both for GINR and for the hunters/fishermen at the end of the workshop to have had the chance to talk. In the end, Fernando personally said that he had received many positive responses for showing up and facing the questions.

Overall, it was a very interesting first day, which produced topics for several long discussions amongst the participants.  Personally I had many discussions with Henry about the role of community-based monitoring, especially how to most efficiently use the data coming from projects such as the Näätämö and PISUNA.

One of the greatest successes of the workshop, was the fact that the hunters/fishers were so well represented and had a forum to discuss and learn not only from each other but also from the scientist, students and the governmental representatives that were present- and especially vice versa.

Amalie Jessen from the dept. of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture (APN) together with Nette Levermann (also from APN) answered many of the concerns that were discussed. At the same time they expressed understanding for the frustrations experienced by the fishers/hunters and a will to genuinely work towards more inclusion of local knowledge. Furthermore, they could inform of several new management decisions benefitting the hunters/fishermen planned to be implemented in the near future.

At times it could be a bit difficult keeping on track of the day’s topic, and keeping to the time plan. Everybody was VERY active in participating in the debate, since this topic was very close to heart for everyone present. This meant that the discussions sometimes would become very personal and detail-oriented. Two days are simply not enough when fishers/hunters have been traveling for days to get to Nuuk carrying the weight of the whole of their community on their shoulders. It is no surprise that often the focus would be turned to a specific issue, which the fisher/hunter felt strongly for should be addressed with regards to changed management.

IMG_1906The second day the theme was “implementation of monitoring to management”. 

Here I will highlight Nicole Kanayuraq from the North Slope, Barrow presenting about co-management in Alaska and Kupik Kleist and the Pikialasorsuaq (North water polynya) commissions work, which I personally found to be particularly interesting and furthest ahead of suggesting the most far-reaching and genuine changes to current management procedures.

During the whole workshop especially Åge Hammeken, from Ittoqqortoomiit on the East coast made a big impression on the other hunters/fishermen. Many of which had never been on the East coast themselves. Everybody agreed that in North and East Greenland, the conditions are so much different that the rest of the country and the people there are struggling to survive that special management should apply to these regions. In general, a recurring suggestion was to divide Greenland into several distinct management regions (possible 8 regions) since there are such huge regional differences.

In the evening of the last day, everybody was invited to a PISUNA event in the cultural centre, Katuaq, where a member of the price committee, Karen Motzfeldt, together with Nuunoq, Pâviârak, Fernando and Nette gave presentations about the project and what it has meant to win the Price. This was a great ending of the workshop, and it was very clear to everybody who came that this is very important work and that it should continue in the future.

The purpose of the whole workshop was to produce a declaration for the government with statements from the two days, stressing the importance of including local knowledge in management and recommendations regarding this. Ababsi (Bjarne Lyberth) had been noting down during the workshop and he finalized the document in the final session and read it aloud for all of the participants. All the KNAPK representatives signed the document, which was handed over to the new minister of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture, Nikkulaat Jeremiassen at the PISUNA event. They even agreed to have a meeting the following day; Ababsi said that they were very pleased with this, even though they were not promised any big changes right away.”

 

 

Executive Sec. of the ICCA Consortium Grazia Feyerabend

Executive Sec. of the ICCA Consortium Grazia Feyerabend

Indigenous and Community-Conserved Areas Consortium Gathers Global Event in Ethiopia with Antoine Scherer reporting:

We started with an homage to late Taghi, the former president of ICCA Consortium, which was a moving and yet joyful moment – everybody intends to keep fighting and honour his legacy. We spoke about the accomplishments of 2018, such as the new features of the ICCA website (newsflash system, webinars), the privacy policy for ICCAs, and the collaboration with Life Mosaïc for videos on ICCAs.

Then a point on the 2018 membership report: the Consortium now gathers 140 members (24 new) and 308 honorary members (31 new). This quick “growth” brings some profound questions for the Consortium: is this growth rate sustainable ? Are there some downsides to it ?

Grazia Feyerabend, the Executive Secretary of ICCA, submitted the idea that we should be more strict in the selection of the members, and favour quality over quantity, as the organization’s ambition is not to grow as much as possible but to create a strong and efficient network.

For this reason, everybody agreed that we should reconsider our expectations for new members, and make sure that they’ll be able to contribute to the Consortium in some way. Around the same topic, we thought that it could be interesting to build a database of what specific skills each member has, so that we can easily link members when one of them needs help for something specific.

Snowchange steering committee member and ICCA Coordinator for his Pacific Region Sutej Hugu delivers a statement

Snowchange steering committee member and ICCA Coordinator for his Pacific Region Sutej Hugu delivers a statement

It was also said that honorary members should fulfil a list of criteria to join (for instance, if it’s not constituted of Indigenous People, it should at least have conducted actions in favour of IPs). Also, Grazia emphasized the fact that it is more efficient to have federations and large groups of ICCAs (such as in the Philippines) rather than several small groups.

The Consortium is concerned that among all the honorary members, 65% are males, and only 23% identify as IPs. During the next years, efforts will be made to include more females and IPs as honorary members. We also deliberated on the new Gender Policy Proposal, which aims to empower women and reduce inequality and discrimination. The policy also encourages the recognition and empowerment of all genders in communities where more than two genders traditionally exist. As it was submitted for discussions, it was well specified that each region could decide by its own to adopt the text and apply it as they wish.

About the finances: SwedBio, the Christensen Fund and the GEF SGP Global Support for ICCAs have been some of the main fundraisers of 2018. Some new proposals are underway, with organizations such as the WWF International Inclusive Conservation, and the Oak Fundation (which focuses on marine projects). The collaboration with the Oak Fundation would be particularly interesting because it could prefigure a new model, where the funders support directly the members, with the ICCA Consortium acting like a backup. This organization focuses on the preservation of traditional livelihoods and small-scale fisheries.

Interesting to note that there’s a lot of collaboration with the IUCN and the CBD. A new partnership should be launched with the CBD at COP14 in Egypt towards reaching Aichi target 11 by 2020. The IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme should provide governance assessments and help financially with the GSI phase 2.

On Monday evening we had a very interesting discussion around the concept of ICCAs as OECMs (Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures). The Consortium is talking more and more of “Territories of Life” rather than ICCAs. Some lobbying should be pursued during international events such as the COP to promote community-based conservation against the predominant current conservation model.

WWF international is also a major partner and is giving advices regarding inclusive conservation.Several other partners were enumerated, and new collaborations should start soon. The Consortium hopes, for instance, that a collaboration with the National Geographic Society will work next year.

In the regionalization process, each region will have to develop its own strategy, structure and governance system. Sub-regions will have to be clearly defined and justified, respecting the complexity and diversity of ICCAs. It was said that the definition of the regions should be porous and open, to allow useful overlaps.

New President of ICCA, Teodoro Brawner Baguilat Jr, from Philippines. Teddy is a member of the Tuwali indigenous tribe of Ifugao and the Gaddang indigenous Tribe of Nueva Vizcaya provinces in Northern Philippines and champions the cause of all indigenous peoples. He has been Honorary member of the ICCA Consortium for several years, follows closely the ICCA Consortium work in the Philippines especially and has spoken in various international conferences on ICCAs, conservation and heritage sites, human rights and indigenous cultures.

New President of ICCA, Teodoro Brawner Baguilat Jr, from Philippines. Teddy is a member of the Tuwali indigenous tribe of Ifugao and the Gaddang indigenous Tribe of Nueva Vizcaya provinces in Northern Philippines and champions the cause of all indigenous peoples. He has been Honorary member of the ICCA Consortium for several years, follows closely the ICCA Consortium work in the Philippines especially and has spoken in various international conferences on ICCAs, conservation and heritage sites, human rights and indigenous cultures.

The structure of each regionalized system will be linked to the global council, secretariat and assemblies. Each region will have representatives who will also participate in the global level. The only non-negotiable thing is that there should be at least two persons, one woman and one man, in this position.

Many regions are already quite advanced in the process and have already identified their sub-regions and thought about a structured governance system. It seems that two representatives for the Circumpolar North would work fine. At the moment, the focus in Europe is mainly on the commons in Italy and Spain. I had the occasion to meet a lot of people and make friends.

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