News

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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October – November

A dead sperm whale on the Sámi coast, Norway, 2007

A dead sperm whale on the Sámi coast, Norway, 2007

Late October Snowchange delegates travel to Warsaw, Poland to participate in the Low Impact Fishermen of Europe Annual Meeting. The season is marked with fisheries for vendace and whitefish.

November will bring a host of publication launches, both scientific articles as well as Arctic Resilience Report, 25th November, 2016. At the end of November and early December, we’ll participate in various Nordic initiatives, including “Pisuna” in Nuuk, Greenland with our partners NORDECO, who coordinates the Nordic Resource Management Project – an attempt to include the local communities better into the decisionmaking and observations of resources in two pilot sites in Finland: Jukajoki and Näätämö Rivers.

Domestically Jukajoki restoration activities will continue towards December, lake Kuivasjärvi basin activities are ready, and plans for 2017 will be made in terms of funding and design preparations. More news here as November gets under way.

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Ecological Restoration Took a Step Forwards in the Skolt Sámi Area

Small river of Kirakkajoki will be restored in 2017.

Small river of Kirakkajoki will be restored in 2017.

This week Snowchange specialists and staff worked with the Skolt Sámi team and the community of Sevettijärvi to advance the ecological restoration of habitats in the sub-catchment area of Vainosjoki river in Arctic Finland.

River Kirakkajoki

River Kirakkajoki

Early in the week several meetings were held with state officials and Metsähallitus in Rovaniemi.

Restoration and catchment area maps being handed out.

Restoration and catchment area maps being handed out.

Tero Mustonen reviews the plans in the workshop.

Tero Mustonen reviews the plans in the workshop.

Then field visits and planning of spawning area and ecological restoration took place under the leadership of Skolt Sámi Risto Semenoff.

Upstream at Vainoslompolo area, another site of restoration slated for 2017.

Upstream at Vainoslompolo area, another site of restoration slated for 2017.

On Tuesday a large community workshop collected almost 30 people to the school of Sevettijärvi to

hear about the plans for 2017, results of the co-management project from 2016 and comment and review the restoration plans proposed.

We expect to move ahead at least on three sites in summer 2017.

Risto Semenoff and about 30 participants in the workshop.

Risto Semenoff and about 30 participants in the workshop.

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