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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Shifting Strategies between Generations in Sami Reindeer Husbandry: the Challenges of Maintaining Traditions while Adapting to a Changing Context

Axelsson-Linkowski, Weronika; Fjellstrom, Anna-Maria; Sandstrom, Camilla; Westin, Anna; Ostlund, Lars; Moen, Jon


Many traditional pastoralist systems are greatly impacted by cumulative encroachments of other land users and by climate change. Understanding land degradation and the adaptive capacity of people who are dependent on the rangelands is an urgent priority for many areas in the world. In this research we explore how changing environmental conditions affect herding strategies on winter pastures and the role of indigenous and local traditional knowledge (ILK) in Sami reindeer husbandry. Our results indicate that traditional Sami reindeer herding strategies are still practiced, but that rapidly changing environmental circumstances are forcing herders into uncharted territories where these traditional strategies and the transmission of knowledge between generations may be of limited use. For example, rotational grazing is no longer possible as all pastures are being used, and changes in climate result in unpredictable weather patterns unknown to earlier generations.


Strategies; Encroachments; Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK); Knowledge transmission; Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK); Climate change; Rangelands; Sami reindeer herding; Sweden

Published in

Human Ecology
2020, Volume: 48, number: 4, pages: 481-490