Pastoral dilemmas in a european context: the case of reindeer rangelands in sub-arctic Norway
This paper describes an example from a very specific ecological and economic setting, yet relevant to pastoralism worldwide. The semi-nomadic reindeer herders in sub-arctic Norway are part of the Saami minority, which spreads over north-central Fennoscandia and part of the Kola Peninsula. The paper focuses on reindeer herding in Inner Finnmark. Recently, the pastoral system in sub-arctic Norway has been portrayed as a typical example of Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” theory. This point of view, perpetuated by the State and reproduced by the media in dramatic tones like “environmental catastrophe” or “irresponsible management”, has provided legitimacy for a strict state control of the reindeer herding industry as a whole. The Saami herders have a different view of the problem and propose a different solution. In the light of this, the paper reviews and challenges official “discourses”, and attempts to ‘tell a better story’ about the sustainability of the common reindeer ranges in Finnmark.