Keywords: Finland, nature conservation, political ecology, reindeer herding, globalisation, conservation classification, IUCN, International Union of the Conversation of Nature and Natural Resources, traditional livelihoods, international conservation definitions, conservation area management, local conservation, Saami
Global area conservation ideals versus the local realities of Reindeer Herding in Northernmost Finland
This paper analyses the conflicts and contradictions associated with Reindeer Herding and nature conservation by comparing management discussions related to Malla Strict Nature Reserve (IUCN Ia) and Pallas-Yllas National Park (IUCN II) in Northern Finland. Based on our comparison, we show problems that are created when applying international conservation definitions on the practices of conservation area management, and how these definitions can be inconsistent with local starting-points and as a result become essential parts of conservation disputes. Although, institutions behind these definitions typically acknowledge local rights to natural resources, the actual rights do not reflect in specific applications. Furthermore, these international definitions lean on scientific axioms which are often accepted as self-explanatory in conservation management and concepts like 'natural state' create local conservation opposition because traditional utilisation is easily restricted with fuzzy explanations. To ensure that the actual management decisions are not founded on biased epistemologies, basic concepts and known uncertainties should remain open for debate and especially the local flexibility of conservation applications should be encouraged in international conservation definitions.