Reindeer herding is not just a profession. It is something you live with around the clock and all year round, generation after generation. Our families have lived in these lands and have been continuously carrying on with forest Sámi reindeer herding for many hundreds of years.
But in recent years, the land needed for reindeer herding has decreased more and more, due to extensive logging. This affects the reindeer directly. The food disappears. The vital hanging lichen – the emergency feed – is becoming increasingly rare. You can see how the reindeer have changed in recent years. Their antlers have become worse and the average weight of the reindeer has decreased. The behavior of the reindeer is changing. It’s devastating – and it’s awful to see. If the forests were to disappear, then there is no future for the reindeer and reindeer husbandry at all.
Although we have used these forests for centuries, most of them are today held by the state owned forest company Sveaskog. A couple of years ago, we still had regular consultations with Sveaskog, which we have had for decades. Unfortunately, they abruptly terminated these meetings with us. We received no sensible explanation, only oral information about the message.
We have said “no” to logging in important areas and we have shown the importance of these areas. But Sveaskog shows us no consideration at all, they just cut the forests. We can say nothing about it. We do not even get maps of where they plan to log. They come here and make new forest roads in the area, chopping down forests that can be important to us. They have also logged forests that we have previously agreed must be kept, because they are so important for reindeer grazing.
Sveaskog has treated us very abusively – and still does. This haunts us daily. We have made demands to Sveaskog. We have written letters from Sámi reindeer herding district, where we demand that we should have consultations back and that some forests must be saved. But we have not been heard. It’s awful that a state-owned company can do that.
We have seen with our own eyes how fast the logging goes on and feel a strong concern for the future. The reindeer and we who work with reindeer husbandry are completely dependent on the forest. If we lose the few small areas of hanging lichen forests that we have left, it is the end of reindeer husbandry. What should we do if the forest is lost? What will the reindeer live on? Where will we go?
Sveaskog is the state’s own forest company – and is governed on the basis of what the Swedish parliament and the government decide. They must consult with the reindeer herding area – this is an absolute minimum. We demand that Sveaskog immediately stop all logging in Muonio Sámi reindeer herding district until they restart consultation with us again.
Katarina Sevä is a reindeer herder and board member of Muonio Sámi reindeer herding district
Please support our call to protect Indigenous lands from logging, here: https://act.gp/3gqtFkW