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Global Warming Threatening Reindeer Herding

The Associated Press
Created: December 10, 2019 11:25 AM

Global warming is threatening reindeer herding in Sweden's arctic.

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Unusual rainfall during the winter has led to thick layers of ice that block to access to the reindeer's food.

"We have winter here for eight months a year. When it starts in October with bad grazing conditions, it won't get any better."

"Here we see an ice layer, because of the rain on snow. It becomes very icy, and the reindeer won't smell the lichen. Through this."

Already pressured by the mining and forestry industries, and other human developments that encroach on grazing land, indigenous Sami herding communities fear climate change could threaten their livelihood and traditional culture.

"We have the forestry, the windmill parks, hydro-electric power, predators, industry, tourists. Like, everyone wants to take the reindeer's area, and where they find food. With climate change, we need more flexibility to move around move because here you can't find food, but maybe you can find food there. But here, they want to clear cut the forest. And that's the problem."

The Swedish Sami Youth organization launched a legal action in 2018 with eight other families elsewhere in the world, seeking to force the European Union to set more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"We have said we don't want money, because we can't buy better weather, we say we need that the E.U. takes action and they need to do it now."

Herders have started working with researchers to better understand changing weather patterns.

Data from weather stations coupled with ancestral knowledge of the land can be crucial to analyze the impacts of climate change.

They hope this research can help Sami communities argue their case with decision-makers legislating land use rights.

"If we don't find better areas for them, where they can graze and find food, then the reindeer will starve to death."

Credits

The Associated Press

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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