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 through this link:

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.

International cooperation in reindeer research

A broad spectrum of research topics is related to reindeer herding and the Sámi culture. From working conditions, viruses and diseases, racism, climate change, land-use effects to predator losses, and many others. Several research questions are similar across the whole region occupied by reindeer, and international cooperation is therefore well established.

More about reindeers:
Reindeer research in the Nordic countries
Reindeer herding in Fennoscandia – same, same but different

Snapshots from Nordic reindeer research


The Arctic Ungulate Society brings together researchers on reindeer/caribou and muskox in international conferences every fourth year. The last conference was held in Sweden (Jokkmokk) in 2019, with some 110 delegates.
Contact: Birgitta Åhman (president),

ReiGN is a Nordic Centre of Excellence with a focus on reindeer husbandry. The overall aim is to understand how climate change and other processes in the Arctic will affect reindeer husbandry in Fennoscandia and how the industry can adapt to these drivers. Partners of ReiGN represent Norway, Sweden, Finland, Canada, United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Contact: Øystein Holand,

Nordic association for agricultural science (NJF) has a Reindeer Husbandry section. The section promotes reindeer research in the Nordic countries and organises the Nordic Conference on Reindeer husbandry research. Contact: Birgitta Åhman (chair),

Snapshots from Nordic reindeer research

More about reindeers:
Reindeer research in the Nordic countries
Reindeer herding in Fennoscandia – same, same but different
Research on reindeer husbandry – international cooperation


Reindeer husbandry planning (Sweden)

Per Sandström, SLU, is convinced that the “Renbruksplan” improves the dialogue between reindeer husbandry and other land users. Photo: Mats Hannerz

Per Sandström at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Umeå has been involved in reindeer husbandry planning (Renbruksplaner) for the last 20 years. The plans are each reindeer herding community’s own tool to describe their use of the land, where the reindeer feed, move and rest. The plans are essential for communication with other land-users such as those involved in forestry, energy production, infrastructure development and mining. SLU is an active partner in developing and evaluating the plans, and Per Sandström is hopeful:

– We have recently completed an educational campaign about the use of reindeer husbandry planning, and we conclude that the dialogue has become far more positive. The increased knowledge and understanding about the reindeer herders´ claims is extremely helpful for the planning of forestry activities, mine prospecting or the need for passages over railways or roads, he says.

The development of reindeer husbandry planning is unique to Sweden.

– We have seen a growing interest in our way of creating and improving dialogue including from our neighbouring countries, he says.

Read more: (in Swedish)
Contact: Per Sandström,


Structure and economics in reindeer husbandry (Norway)

Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) is conducting several research projects on reindeer herding. One example relates to the economic sustainability of reindeer herding. In one of the reports, the conclusions are that (1) There is no clear connection between ownership structure and effectiveness in reindeer herding. There is a strong, traditional capacity among the Sámi to cooperate flexibly irrespective of ownership structure. (2) The values created go exclusively to the owner of the reindeer, with no specific reward for labour inputs.

Read more: about the specific project “Driftsøkonomi i norsk reindrift”,
Reindeer research at NIBIO:


Reindeer and climate change (Finland)

“In northern Finland, climate change could at its worst [will] trap Arctic animals in a narrow strip of land between the Arctic Ocean and the approaching forest zone. Rising temperatures affect the utilisation of Arctic nature in numerous ways.”

Extreme variations in weather in late autumn make feeding more difficult for reindeer. This is one of the conclusions from the research on reindeer and climate change at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). If thaws and rain wet the snow and ground high on the fells where most reindeer graze, the snow cover will freeze into a solid and dense layer of ice when the temperature drops below zero. An ice-cover makes it more difficult, or sometimes impossible, for the reindeer to dig for food. One positive side of climate change is that snow-melting comes earlier and improves the availability of food in late winter. However, the early onset of spring cannot compensate for the problems during the winter season.

Another problem with rising temperatures is that insect attacks could get worse. Autumn weights of calves have dropped after exceptionally warm summers. Warmer summers may also lead to the expansion of parasitic insects northwards.

Read more: Reindeer and climate change,
Contact: Jouko Kumpula,


Winterfeeding of reindeer (Sweden)

In reindeer husbandry, winter-feeding has increased due to competing land use activities and climate change. This may be beneficial in the short-term, but may risk the animals’ future ability to make use of the natural forage resource and reduce the opportunity to utilise natural pastures.

The project Reinfeed aims to gain knowledge of best practice for winter-feeding of reindeer and other animals to avoid possible deterioration of foraging performance on natural pastures.

Read more: REINFEED,
Contact: Anna Skarin,


Forestry and reindeer husbandry (Finland)

Reindeer husbandry and forestry overlap in northern Finland, and there have been disputes between those involved in the two forms of land use for over a hundred years. A study from the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi has examined the different perspectives of practitioners of reindeer herding and forestry. The study showed that a number of conventional forestry measures decrease either the number, surface area or quality of the reindeer pastures. The impacts of reindeer husbandry on commercial forests are mostly marginal. Consultation procedures have improved relations between the state forestry and reindeer husbandry practitioners. Corresponding procedures are also being sought for private forest owners. Actions that forestry can take include ensuring uneven-aged forest structure, saving old-growth trees, harvesting logging residue on lichen-rich sites, using light soil preparation and natural regeneration.

Read more: Turunen, M. T., Rasmus, S., Järvenpää, J., Kivinen, S. 2020. Relations between forestry and reindeer husbandry in northern Finland – Perspectives of science and practice. Forest Ecology and Management vol 457, 117677.


Impacts of wind power (Sweden)

A large part of the wind power in Sweden is developed in the northern part, and thus ends up in the reindeer herding area. The knowledge of how wind power affects reindeer has increased, but there are still uncertainties of how the wind power affect the winter grazing area in the forest in Sweden. Wind power involves cumulative effects from roads, power lines and also disturbance from the wind turbines and rotors.

Read more: About Vindval,
Contact: Anna Skarin,

Salvation by bioenergy – what is the potential?

Climate change, fossil fuels, greenhouse gases… We need to find ways to a sustainable future. Can bioenergy be part of the solution?


There are a lot of different views on the potential for biomass production. But it is widely believed that, in order to reach carbon neutrality, the use of bioenergy should continue to grow. Bioenergy can provide large amounts of clean energy at acceptable environmental costs. But will there be side effects, such as hunger, biodiversity loss and substantial greenhouse gas emissions?

To provide guidance on this matter, SNS, Nordic Joint Committee for Agricultural and Food Research (NKJ) and Nordic Energy Research have produced a policy brief: Sustainable use of biomass for heating and transport fuel. The aim is to contribute to the current debate on the important, but complicated, issue of sustainable use of biomass.


Download the policy brief