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The Ghost of Development Past: the Impact of Economic Security Policies on Saami Pastoral Ecosystems

Vera H. Hausner, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø
Per Fauchald, Department of Arctic Ecology, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
Torkild Tveraa, Department of Arctic Ecology, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
Elisabeth Pedersen, Department of Arctic Ecology, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
Johnny-Leo Jernsletten, Centre for Sami Studies, University of Tromsø
Birgitte Ulvevadet, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø
Rolf A. Ims, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø
Nigel G. Yoccoz, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø
Kari Anne Bråthen, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04193-160304

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Abstract

To ensure economic viability over time, any efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals need to reconcile conservation with development interventions. Particularly, in marginal and risk prone areas erosion of resilience could make production systems more susceptible to environmental risks that compromise the economic security. By longitudinal analyses of long-term data records we investigated the impacts of big push policies on Saami pastoral ecosystems in Arctic Norway. The big push was accompanied by reindeer herd accumulation and a corresponding degradation of resilience, increasing the susceptibility to herd losses to predators and adverse winters. For the last 20 years the Norwegian government has worked to halt degradation of pasture ecosystems and reduce susceptibility to environmental risks. These intended win-win policies have mainly been based on economic incentives, which have been developed together with Saami pastoralists through negotiated agreements. We argue that the continued degradation of the Saami pastoral ecosystems is a “ghost of the development past”, as the big push policies have resulted in an economic security trap (EST). The gradual reduction of resilience has persisted as the ex post payments of disaster relief and predator compensation have impeded the long-term actions to reduce susceptibility to environmental risks, i.e., ex ante policies, thereby increasing dependency on elevated economic inputs to manage the risks. The transfer of liability for managing risks to the benefactor, both through ex ante and ex post policies, has further discouraged and constrained opportunities for adaptation by the pastoralists.

Key words

big push; development policies; economic security trap; environmental risks; pastoralist ecosystems; resilience; Saami; tundra; win-win
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087