Pioneering Collaboration Between Reindeer Husbandry and Wind Power Industry

Just over one-third of Finland’s land area is dedicated to reindeer husbandry. Reindeer herding relies on the free grazing rights and large areas of contiguous pasture. Other land uses pose a threat to the future of reindeer husbandry, as they reduce and fragment grazing areas, disrupting the peace of the pastures. At the same time, the need to increase Finland’s energy self-sufficiency and achieve carbon-neutral electricity production creates strong pressure for investments in wind power in reindeer herding areas. In response to this challenge, reindeer husbandry and the wind power industry representatives have come together to develop a model incorporating the best practices of reindeer husbandry throughout various stages of the wind power project life cycle, from initial exploration and permitting to the end of the production phase. In 2023, these practices will be disseminated through regional training sessions.

The Reindeer Herders’ Association and the Finnish Wind Power Association have been working since 2019 to strengthen dialogue and collaboration between wind power and reindeer husbandry. The initiative to intensify the dialogue arose from discussions between the associations and Akordi: effective collaboration was recognized as crucial for the sustainable coordination of the two industries. Akordi has supported the collaboration from the beginning as an external, neutral partner, helping to formulate meaningful goals for collaboration from the perspectives of both sectors.

The goal of strengthening the dialogue between the two sectors and enhancing mutual understanding is already beginning to materialize. Based on their collaborative efforts, reindeer husbandry and the wind power industry have created a model that guides users through the different phases of a wind power project, offering concrete examples of good practices to consider for reindeer husbandry at each stage. While the guide demonstrates methods of reconciling multiple interests, it is essential to keep in mind that some areas are so crucial for reindeer husbandry that siting wind power installations there is impossible. The model is also a concise information package covering both reindeer husbandry and wind power. The working group that developed the model included representatives from both sectors, as well as from regional councils and ELY Centers.

Understanding each other’s operational methods and processes provides a better foundation for interactions between stakeholders in reindeer husbandry and the wind power industry.

“Reindeer husbandry and wind power operations are very different fields, so a key part of the work has been to build trust on both sides and to learn from each other. Wind power operators have visited reindeer marking events, and vice versa, visits have been made to wind farms. Getting to know each other is important and it works best with face-to-face encounters,” says Marja Anttonen from the Reindeer Herders’ Association and Heidi Paalatie from the Finnish Wind Power Association.

“Interest, respect, and a desire to understand each other’s reality have been key in strengthening the dialogue between reindeer husbandry and the wind power industry. Building familiarity and understanding takes time. In this work, it has been essential to first identify common questions. Then, with trust and a working dialogue, solutions can be found,” says Jonna Kangasoja from Akordi.

In 2023, Akordi, in collaboration with the associations, will organize regional training sessions to implement the model in practice. The training sessions are intended for wind power operators, reindeer herding cooperatives, and actors responsible for zoning and permitting in the areas. The model will be updated based on experiences gained during its implementation. Collaboration between the two sectors aims to be further strengthened.

This model only applies to reindeer herding areas south of the Sámi homeland where wind power is already present or new projects are being planned. The model does not address specific issues related to the Sámi homeland, and there are no plans for wind power projects in that area.

Link to the publication (Finnish): Wind Power Project Planning and Operation in Reindeer Herding Areas – Insights into Good Practices from the Perspectives of Wind Power and Reindeer Husbandry.

For more information:

Marja Anttonen
Reindeer Husbandry Advisor
Reindeer Herders’ Association
040 124 7422

Heidi Paalatie
Operational Director
Finnish Wind Power Association
040 550 3858

Jonna Kangasoja
Akordi Ltd
050 441 2863