The Reindeer Husbandry Act (848/1990) is a special law that needs to be taken into consideration in zoning and other activities in the reindeer husbandry area. The basis of the profitability of reindeer herding is the free grazing right (RHA 3 §). Free grazing right is meant as recognised, permanent right. It means that reindeer can eat freely in the nature. Exceptions are listed in the Act. In addition, there are national aims for using land (VAT) that are part of the planning system set in the Land Use and Building Act (MRL 132/1999). They secure the land usage for reindeer herding.

If there are things that would influence on reindeer herding, they need to be negotiated with the herding cooperative in question. This is an obligation set in Reindeer Herding Act (53 §). The cooperative will be represented by the Chief of District.

In zoning, these types of stakeholder conversations should get started already in the planning phase. In the municipality level zoning the negotiations (required by regional zoning) need to be organised latest when the preparatory materials has been presented. There cooperative’s statement or other effects can be viewed together and then considered how to take them into account in the zoning process. The negotiations can also be done before the preparatory material are presented and again before the suggestion is presented to public. This is the well-established procedure in Lapland regional zoning. Reindeer herding cooperatives and Reindeer Herders’ Association have been parties in the municipality and regional level statutory negotiations with authorities. This has been a good way to make sure that reindeer husbandry is taken into account.

If it comes to the conclusion that the project is causing harm for reindeer husbandry, the damages need to be minimised and compensated. This requires negotiations between the project and herders. Good practices need to be followed in these negotiations. This means, that plans are discussed in the phase when there are still chances to influence on them. As a result, there will be a written agreement on how the damages caused by the project are diminished and compensated, how they are monitored and how the results are taken into account.

Effects of zoning into reindeer herding

Reindeer herding is based on free grazing right: according to the Reindeer Husbandry Act (848/1990) 3§ reindeer herding may be practised in the reindeer herding area irrespective of land ownership or possession rights.

Reindeer herding uses land broadly in its operational area. All other land usage in the reindeer husbandry area effects always more or less to the prerequisites of practising reindeer herding. Hence, reconciling land usage in the reindeer husbandry area is an essential question.

The starting point for zoning is to reconcile the different set of interest and needs. Zoning processes are tools for interactions when land usage is planned.  Zoning has legislative effects too. The interaction in the reindeer husbandry area has been implemented with different participatory planning and negotiation processes. Zoning needs to use the existing geographical information that describes the key pasture and activity areas of each reindeer herding cooperative.

The national aims for land usage are to make sure that nationally important things are considered in zoning and actions of the authorities (Land Use and Building Act 132/1999, 24.1 §). The regional level has to take these into consideration and promote them (Land Use and Building Act 132/1999, 24.2 §).

General zoning directs the community structure. In the general zoning, the accuracy of the planning allows solutions that take reindeer herding into consideration. Solutions related to community structure have usually a significant effect on practising reindeer herding, mostly because of the increasing distractions. Distractions can be for example the location of a construction site or area reservation for traffic. Reindeer herding in the planned area needs to be recognised in the general zoning plan and make needed area reservations and regulations.


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