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Reindeer Husbandry in Finland
Borders and Rights
Reindeer Areas and Management
Number of Reindeer
Economic Issues
Challenges to Reindeer Husbandry
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Sámi reindeer herding in what is today called Finland, Sweden and Norway has historically been and is in some ways still affected by the countries border drawings as they became barriers to reindeer herding which since time immemorial had moved between different pastures on the coast (summer) and in the interior (winter). In 1751, the northern border between Sweden, which then included Finland, and Denmark, which included Norway, was negotiated. To this border agreement was made a substantial addition of 30 paragraphs on nomadic Sámi rights – what later became known as the Lapp Codicil (Lappekodicillen) or the Magna Carta of the Sámi. The aim with the Codicil was to secure the future of reindeer herding for the Sámi people. The Codicil prescribed how the nationality of the Sámi should be determined and how their rights to cross national borders with their reindeer and to utilize the lands and waters of other countries, including sea fishing, should be taken into account in mutual understanding with the other inhabitants of the areas concerned. The Codicil also guaranteed the Sámi complete neutrality in the event of a war breaking out between Denmark/Norway and Sweden/Finland. As a consequence of this border agreement the Sámi in what today is Norway, began to use winter ranges in present-day Finland, in both the Enontekiö and Inari areas, and even further south in the Karesuando area in Sweden. This resulted in increased reindeer numbers in these regions. Reindeer herding Sámi in Finland began to voice concerns about the impacts of these increased numbers on their small scale use of pastures. The situation finally changed when the borders of Finland were closed to Norwegian reindeer herding Sámi in 1852 by the Finnish-Russian authorities - in 1809 Finland was separated from Sweden and became a Grand Duchy of the Russian empire. The border between Finland and Sweden was finally closed to reindeer herding Sámi from Sweden in 1889. Thereafter, reindeer herding was obliged to live with state borders, which closed the routes between summer and winter pastures. Since at least some of the summer pastures had previously been situated in coastal Norway, and the winter ranges were in Finland, Finnish reindeer pastures now had to be used all year round.

Rights to own Reindeer

In Finland anyone living within the area of Finnish reindeer husbandry who is a citizen of the European Union has the right to own reindeer, in contrast to the situation in Norway and Sweden, where only Sámi are legally permitted to own reindeer. Regarding ownership in Finland, there are however, some conditions. The owner of the reindeer must be approved as a member by a reindeer herding district (paliskunta - renbeteslag - bálggos) and must permanently reside in the municipality to which the district belongs.

(Renskötsellag 14.9.1990/848)

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