ABSTRACT

Reindeer herding is a small sector that must compete with the financially much stronger forest industry and other sectors for forest resources in what is a multiple-use context. The main income in herding comes from meat production, and here the sector faces competition from meat production in other countries, including farmed meat. Reindeer herding accounts for only a small minority of the workforce in the areas under study, meaning that the sector cannot argue for its importance for regional employment in the same way as forestry can. Nevertheless, as an occupation with long traditional standing and one often closely linked to the Saami (indigenous) identity, herding is often accorded special significance – even if only a minority of the Saami are today dependent on the livelihood. In Norway and Sweden, herding is mainly a Saami right, but in Finland all citizens have the right to practise it (Klokov and Jernsletten, 2002). However, in both Sweden and Norway there are concession areas where reindeer herding can be practised by non-Saami. In Sweden, for instance, non-Saami may also own a limited number of reindeer – known in Swedish as ‘skötesrenar’ – but not herd them (Jernsletten and Beach, 2006). Reindeer ownership in such cases is subject to the approval of the relevant Saami village, which administers the reindeer for a fee, with the meat becoming the property of the owners.