Swedish study maps climate’s affect on reindeer migration

Reindeer in Lapland, Sweden's northernmost region. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand.Thanks to GPS-marked reindeer, Sami herders in the Swedish village of Vilhelmina Norra are learning more about how weather conditions affect reindeer grazing

Together with Umeå University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Vilhelmina Norra is working on a project to map reindeer adaptation to climate change.

The Sami are an indigenous people in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and northwest Russia.

They are traditionally reindeer herders.

The new project involves linking the coordinates of the GPS-marked reindeer to previously-known key grazing areas.

“Because we have the reindeers’ positions for the last five years, we can easily document which grazing areas the reindeer choose,” says Marita Stinnerbom, a resident of the village.

Stinnerbom says the data proves what Sami villagers have long said; that reindeer use the entire grazing area. Something, she says, developers and others need to know.

“We’ve got forestry, mining and wind energy,…and now we know in black and white terms exactly how the reindeer use the area,” she says.

Radio Sweden

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