Falling between the Cracks of the Governing Systems: Risk and Uncertainty in Pastoralism in Northern Norway
Weather, Climate, and Society
Rapid and interacting change pose increasing threat to livelihoods and food production, and pastoralists in Nordland, northern Norway are at cross-roads both economically and culturally. Some of these changes are localized and pertain to changing weather and grazing conditions caused by climate change and land fragmentation. Others, driven by national management policies and governance specifically related to predators are poorly adjusted for the different and localized contexts. The pastoralists are inherently adaptive and have a long history of responding well to variable changing conditions. This is now changing with the continued increasing pressures from many directions. Central government systematically ignores pastoralists’ traditional knowledge and enforce narrow sector policies to be implemented at regional and local level. We address the effect of how institutional, physical and societal constraints challenge pastoralists’ prospects for sustainable adaptation. Our results show how pastoralists’ livelihoods become compromised and potentially threatened because they are forced to respond in ways that they know are counter-productive in the long run. Adaptation outcomes are affected by different approaches and epistemologies that are situated across scale and context in terms of regional and national regulations versus local empirical reality among the pastoral communities. This study concludes that radical change is needed towards a more holistic governance where multiple knowledge systems are integrated to ensure sustainable adaptation at all levels. This study is based on extensive and long-term field work among reindeer herders and sheep farmers in Nordland, through a collaborative process of knowledge co-production.