Are reindeer the new canaries? – How extractive industries facilitate multiple pressures on an Arctic pastoral ecosystem.

Christian Fohringer1, Gunhild Rosqvist2, Göran Ericsson1, Niila Inga3, Navinder J Singh1

1Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå SE-90183 Sweden

2Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Stockholm SE-106 91, Sweden

3National Union of the Swedish Saami People / Sámiid Riikkasearvi (SSR), Umeå SE-906 21 Sweden


In this study, we show how extractive industries, especially large-scale mining, facilitate a cascade of land conversions which are affecting animal populations and pastoralists’ behavior in northern Sweden. By incorporating herder knowledge, reindeer movements and public data on socio-economic variables combined with geospatial tools, we illustrate how the reindeer herding system functions as a proxy for ecosystem vulnerability in the Arctic.

Environmental changes and their consequences on pastoral lifestyles and biodiversity are known to have far reaching effects on the resilience of animals and associated livelihoods around the world. To avoid further loss of favorable habitat and mobility, as well as negative demographic and economic effects on pastoralism, it is important to understand the socio-ecological baselines which can be used for future planning and adaptation.

Our approach and results provide new insights for scientifically robust cumulative impact assessments of extractive industries by creating a baseline via historical data of trends and extents of human activity and infrastructural developments over the last century.


Christian completed his B.Sc. in Biology in Austria, followed by 1st diploma in Veterinary Medicine University of Innsbruck, and then a Master’s Degree in ‘Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Management’ from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Vienna).

He’s now a PhD candidate at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), in Umeå/Sweden in the project called ‘Resource Extraction and Sustainable Arctic Communities”, which is aimed at assessing the cumulative impacts of land-use change (especially from mining) on mobility of iconic ungulate fauna and pastoralists.

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