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Cultural - historical heritage Sweden

Indigenous communities are facing major economic and cultural impacts. Many Indigenous Peoples depend on hunting polar bear, walrus, seals, and caribou, herding reindeer, fishing and gathering, not only for food and to support the local economy, but also as the basis for cultural and social identity (1). For Sweden especially reindeer husbandry is an important part of the historical-cultural heritage.

Reindeer husbandry

The right to conduct reindeer husbandry in Sweden is reserved for the Sami and is founded on ancient tradition. This right is decisive for the preservation of the Sami culture and identity. There are around 3,500 reindeer-owning Sami and just over 900 reindeer herding companies in Sweden. In addition there are around 1,000 reindeer owners of non-Sami origin, for whom the Sami undertake reindeer husbandry in concession Sami villages. There are a total of around 230,000 reindeer in Sweden, although the number varies considerably from year to year (2).

Positive effects of climate change are an extension of the growing seasonand plant production increase during the summer grazing (by 20–40%) (3). Towards the end of the century, the growing season may be extended by up to 2–3 months. The lengthening of the time with no snow on the ground and the shorter winters are positive for reindeer. it is during this season that the reindeer build up their reserves of fat and protein to see them through the winter.

On the other hand, the anticipated higher temperatures in the summer can entail problems for the reindeer, as they do not like heat. A changed climate with higher temperatures and increased precipitation can result in much worse insect plagues. It may also become more difficult for the reindeer to avoid insect plagues due to the shrinking bare mountain environments and fewer patches of snow. The occurrence of parasites can increase as a consequence of a higher temperature. There is also a risk of new parasites and diseases spreading.

There appears to be an increasing risk of difficult snow conditions, with ice and frozen crusts on snow that are very difficult for the reindeer to penetrate when looking for food. An increase in the occurrence of ice and frozen crusts can result in the reindeer having poorer winter grazing, causing them to have to utilise the body fat reserves built up during summer grazing to a greater extent, with reduced fitness as a consequence (4).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Sweden.

  1. ACIA (2004)
  2. Moen and Danell (2003), in: Swedish Commission on Climate and Vulnerability (2007)
  3. Danell (2007), in: Swedish Commission on Climate and Vulnerability (2007)
  4. Moen (2006), in: Swedish Commission on Climate and Vulnerability (2007)

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