ANAR, Finland -- Sami reindeer herders and Finnish governmental forest enterprise Metsähallitus have agreed on a deal concerning the long-lasting dispute on reindeer grazing forests in northenmost Finland.
Greenpeace and reindeer herders
started their joint campaign for reindeer grazing forests in 2002.
Last eight years saw intensive campaigning for these northernmost pine
forests in the world, located 300 kilometres North of Arctic Circle in
the Homeland of indigenous Sami people.
Protests and demonstrations
were held in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.
Customers of the Finnish paper industry around Europe have demanded a
solution to the dispute.
Sami reindeer herders launched court cases
against logging in Finland and the UN Human Rights Committee ordered the
Finnish State to stop logging in some of the disputed areas.
For several years, the Finnish government was unwilling to seek
resolution to the conflict. However, logging in the disputed areas was
brought to a halt in 2006 when Finnish paper company StoraEnso responded
to the campaign and decided to stop buying wood from the disputed
First decisions setting some of the disputed areas aside were made by
Metsähallitus in 2003 and 2006. Thorough negotiations between the
reindeer herders and Metsähallitus started in 2009 in the area of Nellim
where reindeer herders had started a court case against Metsähallitus.
An agreement was reached in 2009, protecting most of the old-growth
forests in the area. Negotiations with rest of the reindeer herding
co-operatives started in 2010, the results of which were released today.
"Greenpeace, reindeer herders and Sami organisations carried out a
historical joint campaign. Industrial logging has now been pushed back
from the most important forest areas either forever or partially for the
next 20 years. The appreciation of reindeer herding and value of intact
old-growth forests will only increase in the future. We do not believe
that after 20 years the slow-growing fragile forests in the far North
are threatened by industrial logging anymore. We are satisfied with the
result", says Greenpeace Nordic forest campaigner Matti Liimatainen.
"Persistent co-operation by Greenpeace, reindeer herders and Saami
Council gave a good result in the end. We are happy because the
agreement puts an end to a long period of uncertainty, during which
reindeer herding always had to give way for industrial logging. However,
there are still threats such as mining and construction plans of
holiday resorts on the protected shorelines of Inari lake", says
chairman of the Hammastunturi reindeer herding co-operative and member
of the Saami Council, Mr. Jouni Lukkari.
Areas mapped in 2003 by reindeer herders and Greenpeace consisted of
107,000 hectares of productive forest land. Approximately 80 000
hectares of these have now been permanently protected or set outside of
forestry for the next 20 years. Most of these forests are previously
unlogged old-growth forests. Thousands of hectares of non-productive
forest land and scrub land, mires and fjells attached to these forests
increase the size of the protected areas. About 25 000 hectares of
productive forest land was left for commercial forestry use. Most of
these are previously logged areas.