Greetings from "Ice Station Reindeer"

Feature story - March 2, 2005
Despite talk from Finnish government bureaucrats and protestations of innocence from paper giant Stora Enso, the fact remains that the Finnish government is breaking promises. Their logging company is logging in supposedly protected traditional reindeer herding forests in Arctic Lapland, in defiance of recommendations from the UN Human Rights Committee. They must have thought that it was too cold and remote for us to find them there. They were wrong.

Reindeer in the Lappi reindeer herding cooperative.

Today, we have established a Forest Rescue Station in the reindeer forests of Arctic Lapland, the homeland of the indigenous Sámi peoples. The Forest Rescue Station, (affectionately known to some particularly frost-bitten activists as Ice Station Reindeer) will act as a base from which we will monitor logging operations and assist the Sámi reindeer herding cooperatives in mapping and demarcating important areas of forests. The activists are living in a combination of insulated modular containers and traditional Sámi tents.

"In the face of international human rights scrutiny, the Finnish government has chosen to take the business as usual approach," said Matti Liimatainen Greenpeace forest campaigner. "As long as the government continues to log the last Sámi reindeer forests, Greenpeace will be active in these areas until they recognise their importance and stop their destruction."

In northern Lapland, many Sámi indigenous peoples still practice traditional reindeer herding, relying on remaining old-growth forests to provide vital food for their reindeer during the cold winter months. The Sámi reindeer herders have been fighting alone for their livelihood and have been calling on the government to protect important areas of reindeer forests from industrial logging. The Finnish government has always prioritised other forms of land uses other than reindeer herding.

The forests have been reduced piece by piece the government's own logging company, Metsähallitus, which carries out most of the logging in Lapland.

Seventy-five percent of this wood is sold for pulp and paper production. The Finnish paper giant, StoraEnso buys most of the wood originating from destruction of reindeer grazing forests. "What's insane is that Sámi's reindeer herding livelihood is being pulped to make cheap magazines, copy paper, envelopes and even disposable tissue paper," said Liimatainen.

We are calling on the Government of Finland to:

  • Implement an immediate moratorium on all industrial logging in important Sámi reindeer forests, as mapped by the Inari reindeer herding co-operatives and Nellim sub-group.
  • Support the negotiation preconditions for the Natural Resource Plan (NRP) in Upper Lapland, as set out by the Inari reindeer herding co-operatives and Nellim sub-group
  • Transfer responsibility for State forests in the Sámi area, including Upper Lapland and the co-operative of Lappi, to the Metsähallitus Nature Conservation Department.
  • Carry out an ecological gap analysis on protected areas in the Sámi area.


We are calling on StoraEnso and its customers to:

  • Stop buying wood fibre derived from Metsähallitus's logging operations in areas mapped by the Inari reindeer herding co-operatives and Nellim sub-group.
  • Support the negotiation preconditions for the Natural Resource Plan (NRP) in Upper Lapland, as set out by the Inari reindeer herding co-operatives and Nellim sub-group.


Take Action!

Tell Finnish paper giant StoraEnso to stop pulping Sámi forests.

Send a letter to Mr Erkki Tuomioja, Finland's Minister of Foreign Affairs, urging the Finnish government to live up to its national and international responsibilities and protect the rights of the Sámi to practise traditional reindeer herding in Lapland.

Live chat from the Forest Rescue Station, Monday 14 March Chat with campaigner Olli straight from Lapland! (That's him in the fluffy hat there).

More information

Read the report "Lapland: State of Conflict - How the Finnish government is abusing the forest rights of Sámi reindeer herders

Check out the Forest Rescue Station weblog to keep in touch with, and show your support for, our icy activists!

You can also read more about the Forest Rescue Station or check out the FAQ.

Play Eco Quest 3 - The Reindeer Herders