Defining a mountain landscape characterized by grazing using actor perception, governmental strategy, and environmental monitoring data
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In multi-functional mountainous landscapes worldwide, conservation of natural values is a major task. Here, pro-active policies can be a way forward. National Environmental Quality Objectives (EQO) to solve environmental problems for future generations, however, often wrestle with being too visionary and lacking specificity, which complicates their implementation. The EQO “A Magnificent Mountain Landscape” that has been adopted by the Swedish Parliament in 1999 to preserve the pristine mountain environment in Sweden, experiences all these flaws. To aid its implementation, we studied the conditions and processes needed to define, to evaluate, and to preserve its goals across the Swedish mountain chain, using one of its milestone targets (a landscape characterized by grazing) as a study system. Applying qualitative and quantitative methods, we analyzed three types of data: 1) referral responses to the governmental strategy document, 2) interviews with relevant actors, and 3) environmental monitoring data (reindeer position data). Nationally, our results suggest a need for geographical differentiation to match regional/local conditions. Regionally, difference in both perception and definition of the milestone target among the actors hinders the formulation, monitoring, and evaluation of a common goal. Next to a culture-nature divide, we found that a “within as a user” and “from the outside as an observer” perspective influenced suggested definitions. Moreover, we found a need for better defining whether the goal is maintaining current conditions or restoring previous ones. Our result supports the use of animal position data as a decision support tool to monitor and to aid evaluation of the target. Given the number of actors involved and conflicts of interests present, we suggest the application of a structured decision process to accomplish agreements on a common goal. Here, environmental monitoring data can aid a “landscape assessment step” as a natural part in the decision process to target landscape management actions resourcefully and effectively.
KeywordsMilestone target Structured decision process Reindeer herding Herbivory Environmental Conservation strategy Sweden
We are grateful for founding by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Swedish EPA) through the research effort ‘A Magnificant Mountain Landscape’. We appreciate very much the constructive comments of all reviewers that helped to improve the manuscript. We thank the RHC Vilhelmina Norra and Vilhelmina Södra for their support with data and for sharing their in-depth knowledge about reindeer husbandry and reindeer biology. We thank S. Juthberg for help with editing the English.
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