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Professor Gretta Pecl on a Visit to Finland: Marine Area Science to Also Include Indigenous Knowledges

profile_image grettaProfessor Gretta Pecl, a marine ecologist, visits Snowchange for a week in North Karelia. The visit will include public lectures, excursions to Snowchange restoration sites and traditional fishing. Her work has focused, amongst other things, on addressing key questions for climate-driven species redistribution requires integration of ecology, conservation and social science.

Climate change is driving a pervasive global redistribution of the planet’s species, with manifest implications from genes to ecosystems across multiple temporal and spatial scales. Species redistribution defies conservation paradigms that focus on restoring systems to a baseline and challenges management strategies, which are often static and based on human-dictated boundaries drawn in the past.

Likewise, changes in distribution of marine resources create difficulties, particularly when species cross jurisdictional boundaries and where historical catch rates and assessment processes may no longer be appropriate. Moreover, we are still a long way from understanding the suite of mechanisms and processes underlying the high variation in rate and magnitude of shifts. Building on that uncertainty, we have even less understanding of how species redistribution will drive changes in ecological communities and further complicate aspirations of ecosystem-based management.

IMG_20190806_142721Climate-driven species redistribution therefore presents intriguing ecological challenges to unravel, as well as fundamental philosophical questions and urgent issues related to conservation, food security, Indigenous and local livelihoods, and many other aspects of human well-being. This presentation will highlight some of the key questions for climate-driven species redistribution in marine systems in the context of ecology, conservation, natural resource management and social science.

Understanding range shifts from ecological, physiological, genetic and biogeographical perspectives is essential for informing and designing conservation and natural resource management strategies for a changing future. However, for species redistribution research to support development of relevant adaptive strategies and policy decisions adequately, studies need to take an interdisciplinary approach and must recognise and value stakeholders.

Coastal fjords are a Sámi socio-ecological system.

Coastal fjords are a Sámi socio-ecological system.

Gretta Pecl is a Professor of marine ecology with broad research interests and a passion for science engagement and communication with the public. Much of her current research centres around understanding climate change impacts in marine systems, and how our marine industries and communities may best adapt to these changes. She developed and leads the very successful National citizen science project Redmap Australia, the Range Extension Database and mapping project, which invites fishers and divers around our coastline to help monitor changes in our seas. Gretta is also currently working with international colleagues on a Global Network of Marine Hotspots to facilitate learning and communication among the world’s most rapidly warming ocean regions. Professor Pecl is the Director of the Centre for Marine Socioecology at the University of Tasmania, a Fulbright Fellow, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, and a Lead Author for the current IPCC report.

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Wendat Knowledge Holder Releases a New Book on “Native Roots of Democracy”

Wendat Professor Georges Sioui and a Snowchange steering group member, who is also one of the most recognized Indigenous scholars and defenders of Indigenous rights in Canada and globally, releases a new book.

eatenotEatenonha is the Wendat word for love and respect for the Earth and Mother Nature. For many Native peoples and newcomers to North America, Canada is a motherland, an Eatenonha – a land in which all can and should feel included, valued, and celebrated. In Eatenonha Georges Sioui presents the history of a group of Wendat known as the Seawi Clan and reveals the deepest, most honoured secrets possessed by his people, by all people who are Indigenous, and by those who understand and respect Indigenous ways of thinking and living.

Providing a glimpse into the lives, ideology, and work of his family and ancestors, Sioui weaves a tale of the Wendat’s sparsely documented historical trajectory and his family’s experiences on a reserve. Through an original retelling of the Indigenous commercial and social networks that existed in the northeast before European contact, the author explains that the Wendat Confederacy was at the geopolitical centre of a commonwealth based on peace, trade, and reciprocity.

This network, he argues, was a true democracy, where all beings of all natures were equally valued and respected and where women kept their place at the centre of their families and communities. Identifying Canada’s first civilizations as the originators of modern democracy, Eatenonha represents a continuing quest to heal and educate all peoples through an Indigenous way of comprehending life and the world.

The book is available here.

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Koitajoki River Documented in a New Seining Film

Seiners of Koitajoki

Seiners of Koitajoki

Snowchange, the community of Ala-Koita fishermen, PrettyGoodProductions and the Interreg SHAPE project release a new film, “Koitajoki”. This short documentary focuses on an iconic, but highly endangered cultural fishery in Karelia – river seining.

The film is available here.

Koitajoki at Möhkö.

Koitajoki at Möhkö.

Koitajoki is a cross-border stream between Russia and Finland. It is the home of the runesinger villages who inspired Kalevala, the Finnish and Karelian epic. Despite ecological damages the river remains a vibrant wilderness area with strong local knowledge.

Koitajoki is a a mystic river flowing in the Finnish-Russian borderlands. It is the ancestral home of Sámi and Karelian cultures. The villages of Koitajoki were the home of the rune singers- for example families like the famous Sissonen contributed to the Finnish national epic Kalevala that went on to inspire J.R.R. Tolkien in his works.

There is no other river like Koitajoki

Upper part of a seine

Upper part of a seine

It was the spawning stream of land-locked Atlantic Salmon and endemic whitefish. But a century of change brought huge changes – hydropower, industrial logging, peat production that transformed the catchment area and the river itself. Whitefish still lingers on.

And so do the fishermen, Koitajoki seiners, who have kept their traditions and skills alive in the village of Ala-Koita. This film documents a seining day on Koitajoki and highlights a unique fishery on a river worthy of UNESCO recognition for cultural heritage.

Rune singing may have ended but the unique river seining still continues.

The people are still on the river.

The whitefish is still there.

Salmon spawning areas are being restored.

Oral histories and stories of the river linger.

Seining spots on a stretch of Koitajoki river. They are orally known and passed on.

Seining spots on a stretch of Koitajoki river. They are orally known and passed on.

Koitajoki may still have a chance 

The home stream of rune singers, unique boreal villages and endemic species – women and men fishing on their home river, both depending on each other – the people and the river. Snowchange Co-op and other partners are now working to register Koitajoki catchment into the UNESCO World Heritage area to make sure it can be preserved for future generations.

Furthermore, Snowchange has channelled resourced to purchase and restore marshmires and wetlands in the Koitajoki system already since 2018 under the Landscape Rewilding initiative. We are working with a range of partners to install catchment-wide measures and support other initiatives to bring Koitajoki and its diverse cultures back to health.

Kesonsuo, a fully intact marshmire in the Koitajoki catchment area.

Kesonsuo, a fully intact marshmire in the Koitajoki catchment area.

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The Khanty Prepare for 2020 with a Regional Fishing Festival

Khanty youth with a traditional boat.

Khanty youth with a traditional boat.

Snowchange partners in Khanty-Mansia, Central Siberia have organised a regional Fishing Festival “Fishing Traditions of the Yugra People” 2019. The Indigenous community of Ilbigorskaya was one of the main partners. This is to prepare for the 2020 Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions slated for Siberia.

Participants of the Festival

Participants of the Festival

Between 8th and 11th August the Indigenous community of Ilbigorskaya as well as the local museum organised the ”Fishing Traditions of the Yugra People” 2019 Festival. Main organisators were Rimma Potpot and Elena Fedotova. The festival included a revitalisation of traditional culture, fish handling skills, traditional boat and fish trap construction, youth work and oral history recounting by the Elders.

The Khanty are one of the Finno-Ugric Indigenous peoples of Siberia, i.e. their language has been determined to be related to Karelian, Finnish, Estonian, and especially Hungarian. Living in the Ob and other

Traditional boat building

Traditional boat building

boreal catchment areas, for centuries their oral songs and traditions have captivated outsiders. The Khanty are known to have possessed major epical songs and traditions in the past. Today they live as fishermen, hunters and reindeer herders in the taiga forests.

The epic songs and old tradition of the Khanty revolved around the asymmetrical Three-part Cosmos. Khanty Epic Hero-Princes of the Legends travelled back and forth in the Ob catchment area and are the sources of major national folklore. The epic songs contain timeframes endemic to the Khant culture, such as Pristine Time, Men of Former Times, Ancient Times, New Age of Khanty Men, Seven Ages of Heaven as undefined futures.

Older women taught the fish handling skills to the younger girls during the Festival 2019.

Older women taught the fish handling skills to the younger girls during the Festival 2019.

An example of the Khanty epic songs  can be found in the story of a Bride-to-be travelling as an Eagle-Owl through the various streams, rivers and currents:

“The Heroic Waters of the rime-dusted Emder with Banks that do not freeze

Fell into the Broad Waters of the pure Ob sown with Tiny Pebbles

The Broad Waters of the pure Ob sown with Tiny Pebbles streamed onwards – 

Into the Sacred Waters of the Irtysh, forked like the Cleft Snout of a Stone-Fox did they fall.

The Sacred Waters of the Forked Irtysh streamed onwards – 

Into the Red-watery Heroic Waters of the Konda they fell.

The Heroic Waters of the Konda streamed onwards – 

Into the Sacred Tor onto which the

Younger generation of epic singers is growing up.

Younger generation of epic singers is growing up.

Divine Mist descended.

The Sacred Tor onto which the Divine Mist descended stretched to the south side of the Region…”  

(from Hatto, Arthur. The World of the Khanty Epic Hero-Princes: An Exploration of a Siberian Oral Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Fish traps prepared using traditional designs.

Fish traps prepared using traditional designs.

Snowchange worked with the Khanty to make the 2019 Festival possible and looks forwards to the international Festival of Northern Fishing Traditions slated for August 2020. Check back in early 2020 for visa and other logistical information. All photos by Elena Fedotova and the local organisers, used with permission.

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Jukajoki Receives Trout Spawning Areas a Decade After Fish Deaths

Restored trout spawning area.

Restored trout spawning area.

A flagship rewilding and restoration project of Snowchange Co-op, the Jukajoki river restoration in Selkie, North Karelia, Finland, is moving to its final stages for now. Trout spawning areas and juvenile fish habitat restoration is being completed.

Lauri Hämäläinen and Antoine Scherer, staff members, roll bigger rocks to the stream for juvenile habitat.

Lauri Hämäläinen and Antoine Scherer, staff members, roll bigger rocks to the stream for juvenile habitat.

In 2010 and 2011 fish death events killed all the fish in the Jukajoki system. A decade later Snowchange is leading the final leg of catchment-area wide restoration efforts that include spawning and habitat actions for salmonid fish. This award-winning restoration work has included use of traditional knowledge and science to bring the stream back into health.

Most recent actions in July-August have included installing spawning gravel and juvenile habitat for trout and grayling. These high value fish were lost in the alterations to the catchment area between 1950s and 1970s mostly because of forestry and ditching. After the 2010 fish death events the communities of Selkie and Alavi set one of the critical markers of success to be the return of the trout.

Fully restored spawning areas of Aajeenpuro

Fully restored spawning areas of Aajeenpuro

Now that the ecological restoration of these habitats is close to being accomplished and finalized, natural stocks of trout will be re-introduced and we expect a natural spawning and cycles of trout to function in early 2020s. The restoration work is funded by the EU LEADER project “Kohti taimenten kotia” and the catchment of Jukajoki is also involved in the Landscape Rewilding programme coordinated by Snowchange Co-op. Whilst main actions have been achieved on the stream, the rewilding actions on wetlands, forests and marshmires will continue on Jukajoki until 2020s.

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