New NKJ networks granted

NKJ will contribute to further Nordic cooperation through the new research networks that was granted funding at the board meeting in June. We hope your cooperation will be really fruitful, and NKJ would like to take part in it in different ways.


We received many applications for the call for networks in agriculture and climate. Here is the list of those who were granted funding:

In the call in plant health and alternative protein sources, we received fewer applications. We believe that part of the explanation may be that the Corona pandemic had reached the Nordic region when the call was opened – it is meetings between people that we want to achieve! But it doesn’t have to be physical meetings, so we hope you will be able to conduct all the activities planned for.

These networks have applied for and received funding from us:

  • Arctic Pea Network, Karolina Aloisi, NordGen
  • Nordic Apple Network: Towards decreasing postharvest losses in apple by knowledge exchange and capacity building, Larisa Gustavsson, SLU
  • Nordic Grain – Sustainable disease management in cereals in the Nordic region, Thies Marten Heick, Århus university
  • Bridge builders – Building sustainable nutritional bridges between research and health and wellbeing services for elderly, Teija Rautiainen, South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences

Successful digital matchmaking – in the time of corona

According to a study from Stanford University in 2017, 39% of all couples found their partners on the internet, and only 20% “through friends”. What works for people who search for love should also work for those looking for a research collaborator. And in an ongoing pandemic, the internet is more or less the only way of finding that partner. It was therefore natural for SNS and NKJ to make the 2020 Matchmaking Day digital.

Text and photo: Mats Hannerz, Silvinformation


Malin von Essen was facilitating our first matchmaking day online. It all ended really well and was promising for future online events.

Matchmaking Day is a forum where SNS (Nordic Forest Research) and NKJ (Nordic Joint Committee for Agricultural and Food Research) invite researchers and stakeholders from a broad spectrum of disciplines to identify possible partners and ideas for cooperation. The forum, which has been held almost annually since 2015, was switched this year to a digital platform instead of the usual mingling in person.

Focus on reindeer husbandry

The theme of the Matchmaking Day on August 25 was Reindeer husbandry in the arctic bioeconomy. The original intention was to gather potential delegates at a meeting in Inari, Finland in May 2020. But – the corona epidemic made it impossible.

– We talked a lot about a plan B, says SNS’ secretary Mimmi Blomquist, but we soon realised that the pandemic would continue for a long time, so simply postponing the physical meeting was not an option.

Instead, the meeting was held digitally, led by the facilitator Malin von Essen. Altogether 48 people were present for the full-day event.

Digital possibilities

The meeting was conducted using the Zoom platform, one of several online meeting tools. Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other services have seen an explosion in users since the pandemic forced people to work from home and avoid travelling. In just the first week from 11-18 March, Teams attracted 12 million new users, and Zoom use increased by 169% during the first months of the year.

– There are hundreds of thousands of people who are now learning how to use video conferencing services in an effective way. The changes we have been talking about for 20 years have now been implemented at record speed, says Malin von Essen.

A new reality

In her business, she moderates and organises meetings and workshops with the aim of inspiring people and taking the results back to their organisations. The meetings are normally physical, but in 2020 she had to rethink the situation.

– We carried out several digital workshops during the spring, and we have learnt a lot about the technique and how to use the potential of the services to engage participants, she says.

The Matchmaking Day was organised as a traditional meeting with lectures, but also with several shorter workshops in smaller groups. The digital platform Zoom facilitates flexible group meetings. In “break-out rooms”, participants with a common research interest could discuss cooperation in a group size allowing more intimate discussions, and the results could be presented later to the entire audience.

– Since we have chat functions and can also assemble suggestions using the tool, everyone can make their voice heard. And afterwards, other people can look at the recorded presentations and the results of the discussions, all being posted on the SNS’ website.

Content with the outcome

Mimmi Blomquist at SNS was impressed with how well the meeting worked out.

– Of course, we need to meet in person, but this is definitely an option that our research networks could use for many of their workshops. SNS and NKJ provide financial support to research networks with partners from all the Nordic countries, and also neighbouring countries. So, partners are often located thousands of kilometres apart, and we can save lots of travel costs and reduce climate impact by using these digital services, she says.

Advices for your coming digital meetings

It is easy to start a video conference, and most researchers and business people are already used to them, but to make the meetings effective, Malin von Essen has some advice:

  • Be clear about your aim and goal – why is the meeting needed and what output do you expect? Then start to think of the content.
  • Before the meeting is live, become familiar with all the functions in the digital platform. Conduct a test meeting with some friends.
  • Ensure that the meeting will function technically. Not all participants are equally comfortable, encourage them to test the technique in advance. Tell the participants to use a headset and web camera, and to avoid distracting surroundings or strong backlight.
  • Schedule breaks in the programme. It is better to have several short breaks than one long one.

Nordic funding opportunities in reindeer research:

The Nordic Committee for Agricultural and Food Research (NKJ) and Nordic Forest Research (SNS) is calling for networks that will strengthen co-operation in reindeer husbandry research in the Nordic region. The applicant must be a researcher or communicator at a research institution. The network must include researchers from at least three Nordic countries.

SNS is calling for networks exploring forests and forestry in relation to reindeer husbandry. The application deadline is September 21, 2020. Apply here!

NKJ prioritises networks focusing on reindeer husbandry in relation to climate change and land-use change, but networks that focus on other aspects of reindeer husbandry are also encouraged to apply. The application deadline is November 20, 2020. Apply here!


Morten Tryland, professor in veterinary medicine, infection biology at UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø

  • After a period of clinical veterinary practice, he transitioned to research and has spent most of his research career investigating infectious diseases in arctic wildlife and semi-domesticated reindeer, in close cooperation with Fennoscandian research groups and reindeer herders.
  • Morten told us about reindeer health and supplementary feeding, which is a quite complex issue.

Mortens presentation

Jouko Kumpula, senior scientist at Natural Resources Institute (LUKE), Finland. 

  • He is an animal ecologist and is interested in changes of pastures, reasons for change and how the changes effect reindeer hearding. 

Joukos Powerpoint presentation

Sirpa Rasmus, researcher at the University of Lapland, Arctic center, Finland.

  • She is  agefophysicist and is focused on climate impact studies.  
  • For the last ten years she has been involved in reindeer research, both climate impact research and more general research concerning reindeer. 
  • She works a lot with other researchers in interdicsplinary

Sirpas Powerpoint presentation

Åsa Larsson Blind, Chair of Sámiid Riikkasearvi and vice president of Saami Council.  

  • She lives in Kiruna in the Swedish part of Sápmi. 
  • She comes from a reindeer herding family in Ran reindeer herding community

She is going to speak about her vision of reindeer husbandry in the arctic bioeconomy. 



OPEN CALL for networking in reindeer husbandry

The aim of the call is to promote Nordic collaboration between researchers in reindeer husbandry by networking activities including workshops, conferences and seminars. Deadline for application submission is November 20th, 2020 at 24:00 CET.

Focus areas of the call:

• Reindeer husbandry and climate change adaptation
• Reindeer husbandry land-use change
• Other aspects of reindeer husbandry

Reindeer husbandry is a traditional source of livelihood in the Nordic countries, which has adapted to changes in the economy and societal changes in general. Reindeer husbandry is an important part of the bioeconomy in the Nordic Arctic region, as well as an important part of Sami culture. It is important for food supply, and also contributes to tourism and other economic activities related to reindeer husbandry.

NKJ sees the need for more knowledge and increased cooperation on the impact and consequences of climate change and land-use change on the future of reindeer husbandry and is therefore calling for research networks on these topics.     

Overall scope of the call
Successful applicants may receive funds from NKJ of up to 300 000 SEK, covering at most 50% of the total budget for the network.  Participants in submitted networks should represent at least three countries consisting of three research institutions in the Nordic* region. 

Network outputs should be useful for the Nordic community and should include knowledge exchange across national borders through e.g. arranging workshops, seminars, scientific meetings or open conferences. Networks could also produce peer-reviewed scientific papers, design policy recommendations based on research findings, write large-scale research funding applications, and create or maintain databases or websites.

* Nordic is defined as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the autonomous areas of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and the Åland Islands.

Reindeer husbandry and climate change adaptation
Reindeer husbandry is primarily based on the use of pastures all year and is therefore particularly vulnerable to climate change. The availability of pastures during winter seasons, and the quality of pastures, will be changing with variations in temperature. Climate change may bring new challenges to reindeer health, such as new types of diseases or intensified outbreaks of existing diseases.

Reindeer husbandry and land-use change
Reindeer pasture areas are continuously under pressure from other sectors and economic interests. Land-use changes influence the patterns of movement of the reindeer, and the availability of the traditional pastures. Increasing populations of predatory animals is also challenging the traditional use of the pasture areas.

Call text
Here you will find everything you need to know before applying.

Application form
Download the application form and submit before November 20 at 24:00 CET.

Mimmi Blomquist,

Previous NKJ networks

Networks can apply for larger funds

In the future, the NKJ-funded research networks will be granted larger amounts. At its most recent meeting, the board decided to increase the amount possible to apply for from SEK 200,000 to SEK 300,000.


Every year, NKJ has one or more different calls for networks that, for example, organize conferences, work with policy-making, write joint major applications for research funding and more. We do this to promote Nordic co-operation in forest research. We believe that the effect of research will be greater if we work across national borders and exchange knowledge and perhaps also equipment, experience and power.

In order to receive financing from us, it is required that you have external co-financing with at least half the budget. This will still be the case, after the increase of the amount. We believe that the impact of our money will be greater if we add a little more.

Welcome to apply for money from the ongoing call, which has three focus areas: soil health, plant health and Nordic food security and self-sufficiency in agriculture.

We will also open a new call towards the end of the summer, which will be in reindeer husbandry. This will be announced in connection with our matchmaking day which brings together people in the Nordic reindeer husbandry. Matchmaking day is free of charge and takes place online on August 25, interested parties are welcome to register!

NKJ wants a younger perspective

NKJ works to give young people more influence. Now we are about to rewrite the statutes to make it possible to elect a student representative to our board.

At the board meeting in June, the secretariat was also instructed to investigate how a working group with young people or a network of doctoral students could be managed. The intention is to give the board input, proposals and ideas through a young, advisory body.
Such a working group or network will have a clear mandate and job description. It will also require a budget to make it work, something the board has approved.
The preparations can be completed at the earliest to the autumn board meeting so that decisions can be made.

NKJ will rework the strategy

The Nordic Council of Ministers is working on a new vision for Nordic co-operation. That means that NKJ will  update the strategy based on the new framework.


NKJ is financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Nordic cooperation is the base of all of our work and strivings. So when the ministers writes a new vision, we will follow with a new strategy.

The new key words in the new vision will be green, competitive and socially sustainable. Those are all words that we can easily embrace and have already had in mind in our previous work.

A lot of time and resources at NKJ’s secretariat have been used to provide input to action plans and proposals for cross-sectoral projects during the work on the new vision. We are now awaiting the Council of Ministers to complete its work before we start reworking our strategy.

Increased cooperation in reindeer husbandry through the NKJ working group

The working group for reindeer husbandry in NKJ has a revival. It has three new members from Finland, Norway and Sweden and they have already started working for increased cooperation.

For several years, there has been a cooperation agreement between the three Nordic countries on reindeer issues. The reindeer husbandry is ancient in the area and there are long traditions linked to the utilization of natural resources  through reindeer husbandry.

Although the legal conditions and problem areas differ, there are also many related issues in reindeer husbandry throughout the three countries. That makes the working group relevant and cooperation important and fruitful.

These are the members of the Nordic Reindeer Committee:
Norge: Silje Trollstøl, Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Sverige: Bilge Tekin-Befrits, Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation
Finland: Mika Survonen, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

NKJ will come back to reindeer husbandry in different ways, so keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for our newsletter and you wont miss out on any events or opportunities!

Reindeer husbandry in focus for the next matchmaking day

NKJ and SNS jointly invite researchers and stakeholders interested in reindeer husbandry to a matchmaking day online, August 25, 2020.


We have invited prominent people to share their knowledge and resent research in reindeer husbandry. All participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and add information, for an  interesting time together online.

We will also discuss challenging issues and future research needs. Workshops will be carried out in smaller groups and we hope the chat will be a dynamic area during the day. We have designed the program with the hope that all participants will gain new contacts and find people in their own area of interest.

We will give you tips how to successfully apply for funding from NKJ and SNS for future networking activities. By this matchmaking day we envision increased cooperation in reindeer husbandry research in the Nordic region!

August 25, 10.00-15.30 CET
Connection and remote coffee from 9.45, lunch 11-12

Online via Zoom, link will be sent out in advance of the meeting

Matchmaking including sharing the latest research related to Nordic reindeer husbandry, discussing possible future research and funding opportunities

Networking with the participants in focus

Invited speakers:
• Future reindeer husbandry (Åsa Larsson-Blind, Svenska samernas riksförbund)
• Reindeer herding, forestry and land use (Jouko Kumpula, LUKE) 
• Reindeer herding and climate change (Sirpa Rasmus, University of Lapland) 
• Reindeer health and supplemental feeding (Morten Tryland, The Arctic University of Norway)  

How to apply for our funding from NKJ and SNS, tips and tricks


Register before August 17

If you have any questions you are most welcome to contact us at 

Subscribe to the NKJ newsletter


Join the Facebook group for participants in the matchmaking day, for updates on registration, speakers etc.

Find NKJ on Facebook

Find NKJ on Twitter


Reindeer research in the Nordic countries

Reindeer husbandry is, for the Sámi people, a symbol of their culture and heritage, and also an important part of their economy. However, the practice is under severe pressure from other land-use, predators and recently from climate change. Concerns are being raised that the grounds used for reindeer herding may be lost in the near future.

Read more:
Reindeer herding in Fennoscandia – same, same but different
Research on reindeer husbandry – international cooperation
Snapshots from Nordic reindeer research


Conditions for the reindeer herders differ somewhat between Finland, Sweden and Norway, but many conflicts and problems are comparable. It is therefore natural that researchers in the Fennoscandian countries cooperate to a large extent.

Research related to reindeer husbandry has been going on for several decades. Birgitta Åhman is Professor in reindeer husbandry at the Swedish University of Agricultural Research (SLU), and also president of the worldwide Arctic Ungulate Society. She points out three main challenges for the reindeer industry.

– First, there is the conflict between land use and land use rights, which is still far from being solved. The access to pasture land is a prerequisite for the survival of the reindeer culture. Second, loss to predators is a huge problem for the reindeer husbandry. Increasing populations of bear, wolverine, lynx, golden eagle and wolf lead to severely reduced incomes, which can only be partly recompensed by the government. Third, we have the consequences of climate change, which has made winter grazing a problem and also alters the whole ecosystem of the mountainous area. With more frequent ice barriers on lichen-rich grounds, reindeer cannot dig for the fodder, and herders are forced to give supplementary feed and even keep the reindeer in enclosures. This, in turn, creates new problems such as the spread of diseases, she says.

Birgitta Åhman, Professor in reindeer husbandry: “Loss to predators is a huge problem for reindeer husbandry”. Photo: Jens Frank.

– These challenges are the same across the whole area where reindeer herding is practiced, although the degree of each challenge may vary, she adds.

More about these challenges later, but first a short history.

Ancient culture


Reindeer naturally occur across the whole northern part of the globe, in Europe, Asia and North America. The animal was an important prey for early settlers soon after the glacial retreat, and evidence of hunted reindeer can be found in rock-carvings that are several thousands of years old in e.g. northern Norway. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote in 98 AD about a group of people he called fenni, who hunted, dressed in animal skins and ate herbs. The first written evidence that reindeer were domesticated could have been when, in the 800s, the Norwegian farmer Ottar referred the Sámi and their managing of reindeer in herds to the English court, but there are theories that domestication started far earlier.

Reindeer herding developed in the 1500s-1700s to become the main business of the Sámi people. The herds are moved between summer and winter pastures, in some cases over large distances from the Scandian fells in the summer to the coast of Sweden in winter, or from the mountainous areas in Finnmark in winter to the Norwegian coast in summer. Some reindeer herding communities are more stationary, keeping the herds in the forested landscape.

Closed borders…

Historically, reindeer herders moved without restrictions over the Sápmi region. The situation changed when the border between Sweden and Norway/Denmark was settled in 1751. The Lapp Codicil formalised the rights of the Sámi to continue to move reindeer across the border, but the rights have changed over time and are now regulated in reindeer grazing conventions. The border between Norway and Russia was closed in 1826, and between Finland and Norway by the Finnish-Russian authorities in 1852. These closures were a severe setback for reindeer herders who historically had partly used coastal Norway for their summer pasture. The border between Sweden and Finland was closed in 1889.

…and increased intrusion

Ever since settlers began to colonise the Sápmi area, the reindeer culture has been under pressure from others who claim access to the land. The obstacles are much the same in the Fennoscandian countries: dam building for hydropower, windmills, roads, mining and tourism. In Sweden and Finland, reindeer herders share the same area as is used by forestry. In Norway hut-building areas reduce the pasture land. All these activities together represent a threat to the future of reindeer husbandry. On top of that, there is racism among the non-Sámi population, with harassment of the reindeer herders and even illegal killing of reindeer.

The gradually reduced pasture area, and particularly the reduced access to lichen-rich forests, has great impacts on the reindeer industry. While the number of reindeer remains quite stable in the region, the conditions for the herds and their opportunities to migrate, rest and feed are becoming increasingly scarce. Reduced fodder forces the reindeer owners to provide supplementary feeding, and in Finland also to keep the reindeer in enclosures. More reindeer in small areas increases the risk of diseases spreading and also causes problems with over-grazing.


Since the reindeer move freely most of the time with limited supervision, they are subject to predators, a problem in all of the countries. According to, predators are responsible for 80% of reindeer losses in Norway. reports that 20,000-70,000 reindeer are killed every year in Sweden. Lynx and wolverine are responsible for the largest losses. In Finland, wolves and other predators are more common closer to the Russian border, but wolverine is the main predator on reindeer.

Climate change

A threat which has increased in recent decades is global warming, with particularly accelerating temperatures in the Arctic. Warmer winters with frequent thaw and ice periods can make the snow so densely packed that the reindeer cannot dig for ground lichens. On the other hand, longer snow-free periods could be beneficial. However, climate change is considered a severe threat to the reindeer, and long-held knowledge of where to feed and rest is no longer reliable.

Conflicts with forestry

Site preparation can reduce much of the lichens on the ground. Photo: Mats Hannerz

Forestry is, besides reindeer husbandry, the spatially most extensive activity in Sápmi. Harvesting old stands and site-preparation of the soil have severe negative impacts on access to lichen fodder, particularly during the bottleneck period in the winter. A lot of research has been conducted on the effects of forestry and processes to mitigate the conflicts. Currently, great effort is being made to find constructive solutions through dialogues between reindeer husbandry and forestry communities, but it is still a fact that the former extensive old forests are rapidly being replaced with younger and denser forests, with fewer lichens and with more disturbance of the original feeding places and migration routes.

Reindeer herding in Fennoscandia – same, same but different

Reindeer owners


In Sweden, only a person who is member of a reindeer herding community (Sameby) has reindeer herding rights. An exception is the Concession area in western Sweden (Torne valley), where other locals can own reindeer, but Sámi people manage them.

Norway has similar rules, and only Sámi with rights to a reindeer earmark can conduct reindeer husbandry. In southern Norway, there is a Concession area with a limited number of reindeer, where both Sámi and non-Sámi are engaged in reindeer husbandry.

In Finland, anyone who is a Finnish citizen can own reindeer, but must be accepted as a member of a reindeer herding district. In the northernmost herding area (Sámi), almost all owners belong to the Sámi people. The maximum number of animals that can be owned by an individual in Finland is 300 in the southern region and 500 in the northern parts of the reindeer herding area.

More about reindeers:
Reindeer research in the Nordic countries
Research on reindeer husbandry – international cooperation
Snapshots from Nordic reindeer research


Number of owners

SWEDEN has 51 reindeer herding communities (Sameby) with about 4 700 reindeer owners.

NORWAY has 556 Siida units with 2 900 people as members. Of these 2 200 are in Finnmark, the northernmost county in Norway.

FINLAND has 56 reindeer herding districts with about 6 700 reindeer owners. For most of them reindeer herding is a secondary occupation , besides farming, forestry etc. Fulltime herders number about 800, of whom 600 are Sámis.


Number of reindeer

The numbers reflect the winter herds, after slaughter but before the calves are born.

SWEDEN has a relatively stable population around 250.000 reindeer.

NORWAY has slightly more than 200.000 reindeer. In addition, a population of wild reindeer (the last population in Fennoscandia besides a newly established in southern Finland) lives in southern Norway (about 30.000 reindeer).

FINLAND has about 200.000 reindeer and a small population of wild reindeer south of the reindeer herding area.