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Traditional and local knowledge in land use planning: insights into the use of the Akw: Kon Guidelines in Eanodat, Finnish Spmi

Inkeri Markkula, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
Minna T. Turunen, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
Sini Kantola, University of Oulu, Geography Research Unit; Natural Resources Institute Finland


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The 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 8(j) in particular, requires its parties to “respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of Indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles.” In Finland, these requirements are, to some extent, fulfilled through application of the Akw: Kon Voluntary Guidelines, a protocol developed by the CBD for cultural, environmental, and social impact assessment to be applied in regions inhabited or used by Indigenous peoples. However, although the Akw: Kon Guidelines have been in use for several years, studies addressing their practical application are scarce. We set out to examine the use of the Akw: Kon Guidelines, inclusion of traditional and local knowledge (TLK), as well as the related improvements and challenges in land use planning in the Municipality of Eanodat in Finnish Spmi. We conducted key-informant interviews with local Smi experts and local land use planning officials and examined recent land use and management plans for wilderness and conservation areas. Regarding the incorporation of TLK into land use planning, officials identified practical challenges, such as a mismatch between the oral narrative nature of TLK and the planning systems currently in use, and pointed to a need to make TLK more spatially explicit. The concerns of the Smi were deeply tied to the survival of their culture and traditional livelihoods, reindeer herding in particular. The Smi informants were unanimous about the need to amend the Reindeer Husbandry Act (848/1990), to better recognize the traditional Smi ways of herding and knowledge embedded in it. Having strengthened the opportunities of the Smi to participate in management planning, application of the Akw: Kon Guidelines is a much welcome development. However, because of the voluntary nature of the Guidelines, their power may be limited in the current situation, where Smi herders’ rights are not settled in national legislation governing reindeer husbandry.

Key words

Akw: Kon Guidelines; land use planning; Smi reindeer herding; traditional and local knowledge; wilderness areas

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087