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Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Europe: The Snowchange Cooperative in Finland

In Finland, the Snowchange Cooperative is conducting the biggest ecological restoration programme in the country, called the “Landscape Rewilding Programme”. The initiative aims to restore back to health thousands of hectares of boreal forests and peatlands, for both nature and people. From the beginning, the programme has been thought to be as inclusive as possible for the local communities living in the action areas, as the ultimate goal is to retrieve functional ecosystems where nature thrives and people can engage in traditional activities (such as fishing, berry-picking and hunting). By promoting traditional livelihoods in their conservation and restoration actions in the Land of a Thousand Lakes, the NGO hopes that the broken links between the local people and their surrounding environment can be repaired.

In this regard, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is central to the rewilding programme, where it is used as a flow of information and data that is complementary to the modern scientific monitoring. The local communities, who are involved in a fair way in the co-management systems that have been implemented in the restoration areas, are consulted regularly and can report the changes that they witness in their direct environment on a daily basis.

Fishermen, in particular, provide precious information through their observations of the changes in the water quality, or through the fish species they harvest for instance. The subtle environmental changes are often missed by classic scientific monitoring, and only local people with a deep knowledge about the river system and eyes sharpened by experience have the knowledge needed to implement restoration and conservation actions that will be effective on the long term.

To learn more about how TEK is used in ecological restoration in Finland, you can visit the Snowchange Cooperative website: http://www.snowchange.org or contact @Antoine Scherer, who works for the NGO and is a coordinator for GYBN Europe+.

The Snowchange Cooperative has been documenting Traditional Ecological Knowledge for decades now, all across the globe. The NGO has recorded hundreds of hours of oral histories from elders of many indigenous and local communities, and is also notably organizing the Festivals of Northern Fishing Traditions, which gather people from all over the world around the celebration of fishing TEK from the Boreal, the Arctic and beyond : http://www.snowchange.org/festivals-of-northern-fishing-traditions/

Since 2004, Snowchange Cooperative has also worked on documenting the TEK, cosmologies and oral histories of the Evenki people, an indigenous spread across the taiga of Siberia. The result is compiled in a fascinating online atlas that we invite you to visit : http://www.evenki-atlas.org/index.html


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