Norway’s indigenous community Sami’s survival is under threat with the government’s controversial mining activities and wind turbines.
The northernmost region of Norway, Finnmark is home to many of 40,000 Sami population in Norway. In the region, the community is mainly occupied with reindeer herding and fishing. The climate change is a challenge for these activities. But climate change is not the only threat to the Sami community and their survival.
Norwegian government’s recent controversial actions opening the arctic for minig activities and aggresively building wind turbines all over the country’s protected natural areas pose a bigger danger for the community.
Samis are fighting plans against a recently approved mine for copper.
Talking to BBC, Nils Mathis Sara, a Sami chief who has been herding reindeer since he was 14, says If the mine becomes a reality, that would make the chance of survival impossible – both economically and mentally.
–At my age we can manage, somehow. But the young, they’re in a dark, dark time, says he to BBC.
The chief’s daughter, Inga Anne Karen Sara says the government is just taking more and more lands for mining, power lines, and wind power.
She notes the copper mine and wind turbines mine will seriously damage the reindeer.
–How can it be sustainable to destroy nature, she asks.
“At my age we can manage, somehow. But the young, they’re in a dark, dark time.”Nils Mathis Sara
Another danger with the plans is the future of fishing in the region. The waste of mine will be dumped into fjords and it will affect the fish and crab population seriously. They will eather die or escape from the region.
Oystein Rushfeldt, chief executive officer of the mining company Nussir confesses to BBC that there will be “negative impacts” at the bottom of the fjord as well as from noise and dust. Though he believes it will not affect reindeers.
The wind trubines is another hot controversial topic about the future of the region.
Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) presented the draft national framework for wind power to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy this year. The framework has chosen 13 areas in Norway as suitable places to build hundreds of wind turbines.
The areas in the proposal include protected natural areas in Norway such as the regions where the Sami community is living in.
This led many locals, civil society organizations, politicians and academics to react to aggressive wind turbines construction plans.
The expansion of onshore wind power remains controversial, with many people fearing it could harm both nature and wildlife. The plans of the government are also questioned with the argument that it is not necessary for Norway to develop wind power at all, considering the country’s surplus of climate-friendly hydropower.
Norway has an annual power production surplus of about 5 TWh, and hydropower accounts for around 95% of the country’s electricity generation. Meanwhile, the share of wind power is currently less than 4%, according to the latest figures from Statistics Norway.
About Norwegian Samis
The Samis are Europe’s northernmost and the Nordic countries’ only officially indigenous people. During the 19th century, Norwegian authorities put the Sami culture under pressure in order to make the Norwegian language and culture universal. A strong economic development of the north also took place, giving Norwegian culture and language status.
On the Swedish and Finnish side, the authorities were much less militant in their efforts, though Sami language was forbidden in schools; strong economic development in the north led to a weakening of status and economy for the Sami. In 1913-1920, the Swedish race-segregation politic created a race biological institute that collected research material from living people, graves, and sterilized Sami women. Throughout history, settlers were encouraged to move to the northern regions through incentives such as land and water rights, tax allowances, and military exemptions.