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Metsähallitus drafting a new natural resources plan for the Sámi Homeland

The natural resources plan will serve as the guide for Metsähallitus operations in the Sámi Homeland during the period 2022–2027. The natural resources plan sets the dimensions for and regulates the use of natural resources by Metsähallitus in the Sámi Homeland. A broad-based group of Sámi Homeland residents and Metsähallitus stakeholders are participating in the planning.

The project plan area encompasses state-owned land and water areas in Enontekiö, Inari and Utsjoki as well as the Lapland reindeer herding cooperative area in Sodankylä. The plan area covers 91% of the entire Homeland surface area, which amounts to approximately 2.9 million hectares. The previous natural resources plan for Northern Lapland was drafted in 2012 and will remain in effect until 2021.

The plan assesses the current status of state-owned lands and waters with regard to both usage and natural resources. It also assesses how the impact of Metsähallitus operations have developed over the previous plan period and how it is developing with current land use solutions. 

Ensuring the conditions of the Sámi people to practice their culture guides planning

The aim is to harmonise the goals set by the state for Metsähallitus with local goals. The plan area is located within the Sámi Homeland and Lapland reindeer herding cooperative area. The Act on Metsähallitus requires ensuring the conditions of the Sami people to practice their culture, and natural resources planning plays a pivotal role in this endeavour. 

The Akwé: Kon model, which was jointly developed by Metsähallitus, the Sámi Parliament, and the Skolt Village Meeting in the Skolt area, will be used in natural resources planning. The operating model helps to identify factors that are important to the preservation of Sámi culture and respond to them. 

Negotiations will be held with the reindeer herding cooperatives in each area in order to harmonise forestry and other land use activities. An effort will be made to come up with new approaches to forest management in these negotiations. The calculations and dimensioning related to forest use will be made for each reindeer herding co-operative.

Interactive planning

A key tool for joint planning on the project is a co-operation group, to which Metsähallitus has invited key stakeholders from the area. The stakeholders were asked to appoint members to serve in the group. During the planning, the co-operation group will be meeting in three workshops to discuss the goals and opportunities of natural resource management and use as well as to set operating policies for the plan area.

Theme group workshops, which will address matters related to natural resources planning under the given theme, will also be held during planning. The aim of the co-operation and theme groups is to bring expertise from different reference groups into the planning process. In addition to these groups, an open, web-based map survey will be made available to everyone and workshops for local youths will be held to provide them with information on key issues. 

The plan is scheduled for completion by the end of 2021. The first co-operation group workshop will be held in October.

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