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Norway and Sweden finally agree on reindeer herders in border areas

Christian Fernsby |
Disagreement and lack of a common convention for the cross-border reindeer husbandry between Norway and Sweden, leads in practice to significant challenges for some Norwegian reindeer herders.

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Topics: NORWAY    SWEDEN   

During this year's reindeer husbandry negotiations, the parties to the agreement agreed on several measures that will contribute to a better everyday life for these practitioners.

The lack of a reindeer grazing convention with Sweden presents Norwegian reindeer husbandry with many challenges in daily operations. In practice, several reindeer grazing districts experience being closed off from previous grazing areas in Sweden.

During the reindeer husbandry negotiations, the parties agreed on the following measures to counteract the disadvantages this entails for the Norwegian reindeer husbandry practitioners:

• Extension of the scheme for feeding and moving reindeer. The rate for calculating subsidies for feed is increased from NOK 400 to NOK 450.
• A scheme is established for legal assistance to reindeer grazing districts or siidas that are involved in legal proceedings concerning the use of their grazing areas in Sweden.
• A survey and review of existing studies related to the Norwegian reindeer grazing districts' historical grazing use in Sweden is carried out, as well as a clarification of the need for further surveys.

"Over time, the lack of a convention with Sweden has created major challenges for Norwegian reindeer husbandry. I have resumed the dialogue with Sweden in order to establish a common basis for cross-border reindeer husbandry. However, I see that there is no immediate solution to this question. I am pleased that we are now putting in place measures that will reduce the negative consequences, and with that support Norwegian reindeer herders," says Minister of Agriculture and Food Olaug Bollestad.

The last convention on cross-border reindeer husbandry between Norway and Sweden (the reindeer grazing convention from 1972) expired in 2005. In February 2009, a proposal for a new convention was negotiated, which was signed by the responsible ministers in October of the same year. Sweden has stated that it does not wish to ratify the negotiated convention proposal.

Lack of convention has led to no common rules for cross-border reindeer husbandry in the two countries. Norway continued the provisions of the 1972 Convention in its own law, while Sweden chose to use the Lappekodisilen from 1751 as a basis. This has led to Swedish reindeer husbandry also after 2005 being able to continue to use the areas in Norway that they could after the 1972 convention.

Norwegian reindeer husbandry, on the other hand, has to a large extent been banned from the areas in Sweden to which they had access after the 1972 Convention. This has led to major challenges for Norwegian reindeer herders.