Coping with Difficult Weather and Snow Conditions : Reindeer herders’ views on climate change impacts and coping strategies
Turunen, M. T., Rasmus, S., Bavay, M., Ruosteenoja, K., & Heiskanen, J. (2016). Coping with Difficult Weather and Snow Conditions : Reindeer herders’ views on climate change impacts and coping strategies. Climate Risk Management, 11, 15-36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crm.2016.01.002
Published inClimate Risk Management
© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.
Winter is a critical season for reindeer herding, with the amount and quality of snow being among the most important factors determining the condition of reindeer and the annual success of the livelihood. Our first aim was to model the future (2035–2064) snow conditions in northern Finland, especially the quantities related to ground ice and/or ice layers within the snow pack, exceptionally deep snow and late snow melt. Secondly, we studied the strategies by which herders cope with the impacts of difficult weather and snow conditions on herding by interviewing 21 herders. SNOWPACK simulations indicate that snow cover formation will be delayed by an average of 19 days and snow will melt 16 days earlier during the period 2035–2064 when compared to 1980–2009. There will be more frequent occurrence of ground ice that persists through the winter and the ice layers in open environments will be thicker in the future. The snow cover will be 26–40% thinner and snow in open environments will be denser. Variability between winters will grow. In interviews, herders indicated that a longer snowless season and thin snow cover would be advantageous for herding due to increased availability of forage, but more frequent icing conditions would cause problems. The most immediate reaction of reindeer to the decreased availability of forage caused by difficult snow conditions is to disperse. This effect is intensified when the lichen biomass on the pastures is low. To cope with the impacts of adverse climatic conditions, herders increase control over their herds, intensify the use of pasture diversity, take reindeer into enclosures and/or start or intensify supplementary feeding. The research also reveals that predators, competing land uses and the high prices of supplementary feed and fuel were the major threats to the herders’ coping capacity. Coping capacity was facilitated by, among other factors, the herders’ experience-based traditional knowledge (TK) and skills, a diversity of pasture environments and the use of seasonal pasture rotation. More often than before, herders combine their TK and skills with technical applications, which greatly facilitates herding. We conclude that the coping capacity of herders could be facilitated in the future not only by reorganizing the management systems and herding practices for sustainable use of pastures, but also by diversifying the livelihood, increasing its profitability and mitigating the adverse effects of climate change, predators and competing land uses. ...
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.
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