Helle, Timo. 1995. Reindeer husbandry and hunting. In: Hytönen, M. (ed.). Multiple-use forestry in the Nordic countries. METLA, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Helsinki Research Centre. p. 157-190.

7 Reindeer husbandry and hunting

Timo Helle, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Rovaniemi Research Station, P.O.Box 16, FIN-96301 Rovaniemi, Finland.


Reindeer husbandry started in Scandinavia in the late medieval period. Most of the reindeer herders are Sami people. The amount of reindeer is limited by winter food resources. Areas suffering from range crisis are apparent in Finland, Norway and Sweden. Reindeer have been suspected of preventing or hindering natural regeneration of Scots pine, whereas forestry has been shown to reduce the carrying capacity of winter ranges. Reindeer husbandry is severely threatened by pollution; damage has been caused by radiocesium and sulphur dioxide. Tourism and outdoor recreation increase the demand for reindeer meat and souvenirs but they also have negative effects on this livelihood. Hunting is one of the most popular hobbies in Scandinavia. In terms of the amount of meat, moose is today the most important game species in Fennoscandia, but at the same time the greatest single damaging agent in forests. Moose benefit from the early stages of forest succession. The number of grouse has been decreasing in all the Scandinavian countries. The decline of capercaillie has been the most drastic. Capercaillie, the most preferred game bird, is adapted to mature coniferous forests, and thus suffers from forest regeneration. Experiments have recently been carried out in order to develop ways of including game management aspects into forestry planning.

Keywords: reindeer, game, hunting, carrying capacity, grazing, administration, planning.


Updated: 18.12.2001 MHyt