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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Fragmented Landscapes and Planscapes-The Double Pressure of Increasing Natural Resource Exploitation on Indigenous Sami Lands in Northern Sweden

Osterlin, Carl; Raitio, Kaisa


Human induced land-use change through natural resource extraction has significant ecological, social and cultural effects for indigenous communities. Indigenous rights, cultural practices and identities are strongly interconnected with traditional lands. In northern Sweden, the cumulative effects from natural resource extraction have become increasingly problematic for Sami reindeer herding. Land use planning and permit processes are organized based on single projects or policy sectors, instead of the needs and rights involving reindeer herding. Existing research has demonstrated loss of ground and arboreal lichen, fragmentation of pastures and reindeer avoidance of otherwise valuable pastures due to disturbance caused by competing land uses. There is however a lack of synthesis of the amount and scale of encroachments on traditional Sami territories in Sweden so far. Likewise, while research has looked at weaknesses of the sectoral regulations in terms of cumulative impact assessment and the inadequate recognition of Sami reindeer herding rights, no studies have analyzed the meta-pressure caused by the fragmented planning regime as a whole, as the amount of regulations regarding different land use sectors and permitting processes increases with each new type of competing activity. Through the concept ofdouble pressurecaused by the inter-related processes of fragmented landscapes and fragmented 'planscapes', this study seeks to capture the actual pressure the affected communities are currently experiencing. Using multiple quantitative and qualitative data sets consisting of Geographical Information Systems, policy documents, workshops discussions and interviews, we study how natural resource extraction like mining and wind energy has increased on traditional indigenous Sami lands in northern Sweden. By expanding the analytical focus from today's landscapes to both planscapes and the pressure from not-yet realized future projects, our results highlight the need for a holistic understanding of the situation reindeer herding is facing, calling for more relevant and legitimate land use permitting and planning mechanisms to reduce the industrial pressure on the landscape, and to address the social injustices caused by today's planscape.


cumulative effects; land use planning; impact assessments; indigenous rights; mining; wind energy; reindeer herding; natural resource extraction

Published in

2020, Volume: 9, number: 9, article number: 104
Publisher: MDPI

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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