There should be room for everyone in Finnmark

There should be room for everyone in Finnmark

In a meeting with the Ministry of Climate and Environment (KLD) on November 30, 2021, as well as in emails sent from KLD to the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization and the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy on December 10, 2121, the member municipalities focused on municipal challenges related to our responsibility for protection, good spatial planning and development work strong.

Posted by:
Brent Schorson
Måsøy Municipality / Acting Council Chairman West Finnmark . Council Chairman

Monica Nielsen
Mayor of Alta

Terjee Wikström
Hammerfest Municipality

Eva de Hospi
Hasvik Municipality

Stein Thomassen
Mayor of Luba

Tor H. Mikkola
Fong. Mayor of Nordkapp

Where is Porsche?
Mayor of Borsanger Municipality

We are under ever-increasing pressure on the areas in our municipalities, both on land and at sea. The protection, restraint and consideration of existing industries, nature, climate, cultures and rights of indigenous peoples must be accompanied by plans to increase commercial activity and develop critical infrastructure. This is to ensure further development, increased value creation, increased stability, and stricter preparedness requirements for Western Finnmark residents. Our municipalities bear their share of the responsibility to ensure the achievement of national goals in various fields. And all this must and must take place in light of the “green transition”.

Current development challenges the autonomy of municipalities in these areas, but somewhat differently;

1. Regarding the challenges of state protection and self-restraint, the municipalities conduct a dialogue with the relevant sectors, directorates and ministries. Here, our municipalities are also experiencing to be heard, recently in the case of the scope of the area for the marine protection of the Flea Sea.

2. When it comes to the challenges associated with the practice of reindeer husbandry and other activities associated with this industry, compared to the need to create new industries and infrastructure, the experience is somewhat different. Municipalities are experiencing good dialogue with most reindeer herding areas at the local level, but unfortunately, it has recently emerged that there is no room for dialogue about possible solutions with Sami bodies and organizations at the regional and national levels. With clear statements from among others the Sami Parliament and the NRL (Norwegian Sami Reindeer Breeding Association) that “there is no room to let go due to the overall burden on the reindeer husbandry industry”, there is no longer room for dialogue and discussions to contribute to finding good solutions together.

When it comes to point 2 above, the municipalities in West Finnmark Council will indicate that the following items must also be included in the discussions and further dialogue that must take place now:

• In the past 50 years, our member municipalities and our resident population have seen the number of reindeer double in our municipalities; From 39,304 reindeer in 1969 to 78,729 reindeer in 2020. In 2010, 104,820 reindeer were registered in our member municipalities. In parallel, there was a development where the introduction of robotic aids constituted a fundamental operational change for reindeer husbandry to facilitate herding work. Thus the introduction of new technology has been the single most important factor that has made it possible to maintain the significant increase in the reindeer population over the past 50 years (see point 1 in the discussion paper attached to this statement).

• The massive increase in the number of reindeer is also increasing grazing pressure on reindeer pastures in our member municipalities (see point 2 in the basis for discussion attached to this statement). The number of elk per kilometer in some municipalities has increased 4 and 5 times in the last 50 years.

• In the same period, there was a very significant decrease in the number of units in agriculture, which means that large areas that were used for grazing, hay and arable land are now available for other grazing animals (including reindeer). In 2010-2020, in three municipalities of Alta, Hammerfest and Borsanger alone, 2.51 dunums (2.51 km2) of land used for agricultural purposes was reduced.

It is difficult to find figures for all our seven member municipalities over the past 50 years, but it is not difficult to conclude that large tracts of farmland have been released in West Finnmark (see point 3 in the discussion paper accompanying this statement.).

The member municipalities of West Finnmark Council have reviewed the evolution of the reindeer population of our municipalities over the past 50 years. As the table shows, there was a very strong growth in reindeer numbers in all our municipalities in the period 1969-2010 (Source: NINA Report 627 “Historical domestic reindeer populations from the nineteenth century until today.” Published 2011, Tømmervik H., Riseth J Å.). Photo: screenshot

The development of the reindeer husbandry industry in West Finnmark over the past 50 years, as the total number of reindeer and the number of elk per square kilometer doubled, and mechanized farming became the norm, unfortunately (and perhaps naturally?) contributed to an increase in conflicts between reindeer husbandry and the population of our area.

In addition, there were limited opportunities for municipalities when it came to allocating areas for business development and critical infrastructure. The increased operation of the mechanized industry has contributed to further problems with “footprints” in the fragile coastal nature, as well as the widespread use of reindeer farming for land in our municipalities.

As mentioned, the municipalities in West Finnmark record that the Sami Parliament and various organizations report that a “maximum has been reached” for the creation of extensive new development and infrastructure projects in the area in Finnmark. Based on the Sami Parliament and organizations, this position is primarily based on the need of reindeer husbandry for the land, in order to protect the Sami way of life, culture and rights.

At the same time, municipalities are attesting that other groups of Finnmark residents and the business community are expressing a feeling that work is being done to make the use of our shared natural resources more difficult, in order to protect the traditions of Norwegian, Shroud and Semites abroad. Use (including setting up cabins in hunting, fishing and recreation areas), gathering and trading in nature. This is important for many who choose to live in Finnmark.

Western Finnmark The Council recognizes that reindeer husbandry is an important cultural vector for the Sami community in Finnmark. But we would also like to point out that reindeer husbandry alone does not represent the overall Sami culture and Sami business practices in our region. Today approx. 2,200 people in Finnmark regarding reindeer husbandry (source:, which means there are approx. 73,000 inhabitants are associated with other commercial activities in Finnmark. Sami culture also depends on well-functioning local communities for existence and development. The identity of the Sami in our municipalities is largely linked to the Sami sea.

The Sami are mainly engaged in commercial activities other than reindeer husbandry and compound farming, and many of them, like the rest of the population in Finnmark and Norway, have changed their place of work from primary to secondary and tertiary industries. As early as 1980, only 20 percent of the Sami were employed in primary industries, which, in addition to reindeer husbandry, include agriculture and fishing. In 2006, the proportion of those employed in primary industries in the Sami regions fell to 6 per cent. Thus, the reduction in the number of employees in primary industries in the Sami regions had the same downward trend as in the rest of the country. (Source: Sami Numbers Tell 2, pp. 75-77, published in 2009).

If the municipalities in Finnmark are to succeed in reversing the current negative population development, it is important that we continue to develop both traditional nature-based industries and new industries that provide a basis for other types of skilled jobs than those we have today. Municipalities in Western Finnmark see that there is ‘enough space for everyone’ in Finnmark, given that we are able to balance and make the right assessments of ‘footprint’ when it comes to balancing new businesses, new jobs, existing industries and climate/environment/nature. Mutual understanding provides a basis for development side by side.

The municipalities that are members of the West Finnmark Council will express our concern regarding the steep fronts that are created in connection with the use of areas in our municipalities. When we see the strong growth that has occurred in reindeer numbers in our municipalities over the past 50 years, combined with the increased use of motorized vehicles in the process and which, among other things, leads to the redistribution of land, unfortunately the municipalities have come to feel that in the planning periods The last of our district plans had to take into account reindeer husbandry which required maintenance and preferential rights in ever larger areas of the individual municipality (each planning period is usually 12 years, and district plan must be reviewed every 4 years).

All Finnmark businesses, including the reindeer husbandry business, must be developed with biological, economic and social sustainability in mind for the communities as a whole. The development of reindeer husbandry must again be emphasized against the fact that other parts of business practices in Sami and Kven and Norway have their rightful place in the development of Finnmark. At the same time, reindeer husbandry should be taken care of in accordance with the adopted rights of indigenous peoples.

Although the reindeer herding area of ​​West Finnmark in 2020 was home to 78,729 reindeer, roughly equal to the number of 78,000 fixed top reindeer, the Norwegian Directorate of Agriculture nevertheless notes that:

«In Karasjok and West Finnmark, the rise of the reindeer herd over a long period of time has resulted in lower harvest weights and a significant reduction in low resources on winter pastures. Animals with lower status, combined with predator numbers and worn out winter pastures, indicate increased susceptibility to loss under adverse climatic conditions. Together, these conditions had a negative impact on long-term productivity in Karasjok and West Finnmark. Based on the goal of environmentally and economically sustainable reindeer husbandry, there is great potential to be realized in Western Finnmark and Karasjok by adapting the reindeer population to the regions and significantly increasing the proportion of slaughter in the future.» (Source: Resource Calculations for Reindeer Breeding 2020-21, Norwegian Directorate of Agriculture).

The member municipalities of West Finnmark believe it is time to boldly enter into the debate on how all current and future residents of Finnmark (regardless of origin) can access exciting and challenging job opportunities and ensure that critical emergency infrastructure is set up at the same level as in the rest of Finnmark. Norway. This is at the same time that our municipalities will of course continue to contribute to the strengthening and development of the Sami language, culture and identity.

And how can we continue to facilitate the common use of the commons of outdoor life and the practice of our traditional gathering and hunting culture, while the reindeer husbandry industry (which must adapt to the basis of herding and to the identification of higher reindeer populations in light of historical development) is taken into account? The main factor in this is the clarifications regarding the disposition and disposition of areas and resources in Finnmark and in the individual municipality. This is a responsibility that our municipalities require by law and are willing to assume, and the necessary discussions we are willing to engage in.

Vest-Finnmark The Board looks forward to further dialogue with relevant ministries, departments and sectoral authorities regarding the issue.

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Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

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