People in Inari would like to make their own decisions regarding use of their area’s natural resources. They would grant minimal decision-making rights to the European Union, southern Finland and non-local civic organizations. These results were gained in a questionnaire study performed by the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla) on Inari residents’ views on the role and use of forests.
Attitudes varied a great deal as to whom the decision-making power at the local level should be given. The results appear to be influenced by background discussions on the Sámi people’s land rights; some northern Laplanders would like more decision-making power for the Sámi people, some would not.
From the economic point of view, tourism is the most important source of livelihood. Forestry and reindeer husbandry are considered approximately equally profitable. From the cultural point of view, reindeer husbandry was shown to be more important, but forestry was also valued for cultural reasons.
The respondents felt that conservation, forestry, reindeer husbandry and tourism belong to Inari. Only 1% of the respondents would ban tourism, 3% reindeer husbandry, 9% forestry, and the same amount nature conservation. The coexistence of reindeer husbandry and forestry was considered important.
The Inari people are reasonably satisfied with the sufficiency of wilderness areas, conservation areas, forestry areas and reindeer grazing lands. The most critical attitude was detected regarding the amount of conservation areas. A third of the respondents felt that the share of conservation areas is too high. Those who earn their living from forestry had the most negative attitude towards the amounts of conservation and wilderness areas. Reindeer herders felt that the amount of grazing land is too small.
The study also clarified the Inari residents’ attitudes towards forestry measures. A positive attitude was associated with fellings and commercial thinnings carried out by forest workers. A negative attitude was associated with machine-based fellings and land improvement procedures. Sámi people and reindeer owners had a more negative attitude towards forestry, and the owners of reindeer embraced conservation more than others.
As the most important task of the state, or in practice, Metla, the respondents considered the maintenance of nature-based and recreational tourism and conservation tasks in the area. Furthermore, production of raw material for the local wood processing companies was considered important, but less so for the external forest industry.
The study was realized as a mail questionnaire sent to 1500 randomly selected adult residents of Inari. Of these, 36% returned the form, and the opinions of those who did not were obtained by telephone. Comparing the respondent profiles of the mail questionnaire with the corresponding profiles of the telephone interviews and the demographics of the basic population in the area indicated that the results can be generalized to the inhabitants of Inari rather well.
Publication: Ville Hallikainen, Mikko Jokinen, Mikko Parviainen, Leena Pernu, Jouni Puoskari, Sinikka Rovanperä & Joni Seppä .2006. Inarilaisten käsityksiä metsätaloudesta ja muusta luonnonkäytöstä. Metsätieteen aikakauskirja 4/2006: 453-474.