, Volume 87, Issue 1-2, pp 199-217
Date: 08 Dec 2007

Vulnerability of European reindeer husbandry to global change

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Abstract

Reindeer husbandry represents a major land use in the Barents region, and has been predicted to be adversely affected by climate change. This paper considers the likely response of reindeer husbandry to changes both in climate and in socio-economic circumstances in the four countries of the Barents region from 1990 to 2080. Key natural factors include vegetation distribution, and a range of meteorological variables including temperature, wind, snow cover and freezing of rivers. The potential impact of these factors is evaluated quantitatively using the tolerable windows method, the results of which indicate a general but spatially non-uniform decline in the suitability of the region for reindeer husbandry. Relevant socio-economic factors include regional patterns of politics, management and knowledge. A focus on herders’ own perceptions of environmental change and flexibility of response, derived particularly from study sites in Russia, suggests that models of vulnerability to climate change should be tempered by paying greater attention to changes in socio-economic factors. When compared with the potential effect of changing these socioeconomic factors, the vulnerability of reindeer husbandry to projected climate change appears to be comparatively small.