News

Not So Green Hydropower: Post-Dam Cultural Emplacement

Kalevi Veko. Snowchange Cooperative, 2014

Kalevi Veko. Snowchange Cooperative, 2014

Kokemäenjoki has been called the artery of SW boreal areas of Finland over centuries. A former Atlantic Salmon river, it was dammed over the span of 100 years. A new Snowchange article reviews the life work of fisherman Kalevi Veko and his community as they fought for their river and tried to maintain a traditional fishery.

A new paper out in Climate and Development captures Kalevi’s life work. Whilst modernity and associated natural resources extraction has altered, often permanently, natural systems, we explore a river valley that has been radically altered during industrialization. We investigate how community emplacement functions. It is an emerging spatial understanding of severed, preserved and reconnected belongings to a place (in this case, a river system. This case study concentrates on the Kokemäenjoki River in Finland. We argue that the lifework of our co-researcher, fisherman Kalevi Veko, provides evidence of the persistence of traditional knowledge and livelihoods.

regional map

Hydropower is a central element of displacement and represents spatial nodes of modernity. Weather change was observed by Veko early on. Yet hydropower was seen as a solution to produce climate-friendly energy in the river system, ignoring traditional knowledge.

Kalevi in 1953.

Kalevi in 1953.

Continued fish harvests are investigated to demonstrate a range of qualities and adaptations to the alterations. Secondly we explore Veko’s role in the restoration of asp population to the altered river. This constitutes an endemic act of emplacement. This rests on tensions between preserved fisheries and the impact of hydropower development. Traditional skills do not necessarily disappear during industrial modernization. Instead, in certain encouraging conditions, they can re-emerge and pave routes to endemic futures.

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Ponoy River and Pink Salmon Issues Explored in a New Science Paper

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Out today in Polar Biology, a decadal science process culminates with a release of a major science paper from community-based observations of change from Ponoy River catchment, Murmansk, Russia. A Sámi-Russian-Finnish-Swedish-US team investigated the proliferation of Pacific Pink Salmon, introduced species, and impact of climate change on this wilderness river system in NW Russian Arctic.

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.

More specifically, the paper documents changes in three villages of the Ponoy River region, Murmansk, Russia between 2006 and 2020. Two keystone species—the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and northern pike (Esox lucius) as well as an introduced species, the pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), were studied to determine changes to fish and fisheries. Oral histories, community-based observations and literature data are used to establish key messages on river health from the 1800s to 2020, including temperature data from 1864 to present. Climate change becomes increasingly evident and impacts the Ponoy River system from 1980s onwards with system-relevant changes becoming more pronounced in late 2010s. This coincides with proliferation of pink salmon from 2006 onwards. The species was introduced from the Russian Far East in the 1930s. Very few long-term community-based observation processes have taken place in the Russian North and this paper corrects this to certain extent. Ponoy River and region are important as the last major roadless wilderness area of the European North. Societal and climate changes are rapidly impacting the river and its catchment area as well as the available biological resources and consequently the local culture. This study shows the value of local communities to determine base lines and highlight ongoing changes when establishing climate change impacts and impacts of an alien species.

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Year Closes With a Major Arctic Peatland System Secured, AFP in Media

kuusikkoaapa3Snowchange wishes all friends, partners and allies a good holiday season, winter solstice and Happy New Year 2021! We are proud to announce the purchase of “Makkara-latva-aapa“, an Arctic aapa mire in to the Landscape Rewilding Programme. This 330 hectares (815 acres) undisturbed peatland ecosystem is located in Ranua, close to the Arctic Circle in Finland.

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Securing this aapa mire into the Landscape Rewilding Programme keeps a massive amount of carbon on the ground, secures a natural carbon sink for future generations and will protect a major bird and other wildlife refuge at the Arctic Circle. Snowchange worked with mr. Roland Göhde, from Göhde Foundation in Germany, to have a breakthrough for this site. We are extremely thankful for him for all the support.

A transformative year also closes with major international media – AFP and Phys report on action against climate change using Indigenous and traditional knowledge and science.

Snowchange thanks all supporters and friends.

We ll be announcing new steps in early January. Stay safe!

makkara1

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40 Answers

Kivisuo elokuun aamuna.

Recently Snowchange was asked to join 40 global thinkers on answering a question: “What is shaping how you think about the planet’s future?

The process was led by an organisation in the UK called “Invisible Dust“.

Answers can be seen here.

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Waters of Health: Ponoi, Voronye and Näätämö Monitoring Ends for 2020

Family harvests on Sosnovka, 2020.

Family harvests on Sosnovka, 2020.

Waters of Health 2020 is a new action on climate change combining Indigenous and scientific knowledge in monitoring in the Finnish-Norwegian borderlands and in the Murmansk region, Russia, funded by the Nordic Environmental Finance Corporation – NEFCO.

Ponoi from the air, 2020

Ponoi from the air, 2020

Waters of Health 2020 expands a monitoring network for northern climate change in Murmansk region (Ponoi river) and in Finnish Lapland (Näätämö). We know that the rapidly proceeding climate change influences biodiversity in these catchment areas. Ground work has been laid out in the previous decade on monitoring in order to detect change in these areas.

 

Three new locations in the region are included in our work:

  • Voronye river catchment
  • lake Lovozero
  • lake Vuonnijavr in the Murmansk region 
Moth expand in numbers according to CBM in Kanevka, 2020

Moth expand in numbers according to CBM in Kanevka, 2020

Simultaneously the monitoring work in Ponoi and Näätämö has been expanded. Documented Community-based monitoring (CBM) observations are being analyzed by scientific experts in the Nordic partner institutions to provide a socio-ecological view of these central water ways.

Please see here for the 2020 work report.

Key messages from 2020 monitoring season are 

  • Atlantic salmon, a keystone species of the region, was observed to be smaller and less in numbers, especially in the Näätämö system and parts of Ponoi.
  • Changes to the cryosphere, i.e. snow and ice formation, quality and melt events continue. In November 2020 water temperatures above 10 C normal were detected in Teno system, close to Näätämö in Finland. Emerging data from oral histories indicate that in 1920s Ponoi used to freeze in September, now the freeze-up can be delayed to November.
  • Droughts (despite big snow amounts in the previous winter) and algal blooms were observed in several parts of Ponoi. In Spring floods and ice dams were noticeable especially in Kanevka.
  • On the White Sea coast, navaga stocks were doing well and seemed to be thriving and according to Indigenous knowledge the fish operates in three-year-cycles. Lump fish was observed to dwindle.
  • Beluga whales are healthy and in large numbers on the White Sea coast.
  • Changes to bird populations especially on Ponoi were observed. Predator birds seemed to dwindle, and this will be monitored also in 2021.
  • Ecological baseline of Arctic char, perch, salmon and sea trout was conducted on Näätämö and this work will continue in the context of plastics and fish stocks in 2021.
Sea coast of Sosnovka, 2020

Sea coast of Sosnovka, 2020

 

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