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Facing the limit of resilience: perceptions of climate change among reindeer herding Sami in Sweden

Author(s): Maria Furberg | Birgitta Evengård | Maria Nilsson

Journal: Global Health Action
ISSN 1654-9880

Volume: 4;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: climate change | indigenous peoples | Sami | reindeer herding | perception | resilience

The Arctic area is a part of the globe where the increase in global temperature has had the earliest noticeable effect and indigenous peoples, including the Swedish reindeer herding Sami, are amongst the first to be affected by these changes.To explore the experiences and perceptions of climate change among Swedish reindeer herding Sami.In-depth interviews with 14 Swedish reindeer herding Sami were performed, with purposive sampling. The interviews focused on the herders experiences of climate change, observed consequences and thoughts about this. The interviews were analysed using content analysis. One core theme emerged from the interviews: facing the limit of resilience. Swedish reindeer-herding Sami perceive climate change as yet another stressor in their daily struggle. They have experienced severe and more rapidly shifting, unstable weather with associated changes in vegetation and alterations in the freeze–thaw cycle, all of which affect reindeer herding. The forecasts about climate change from authorities and scientists have contributed to stress and anxiety. Other societal developments have lead to decreased flexibility that obstructs adaptation. Some adaptive strategies are discordant with the traditional life of reindeer herding, and there is a fear among the Sami of being the last generation practising traditional reindeer herding.The study illustrates the vulnerable situation of the reindeer herders and that climate change impact may have serious consequences for the trade and their overall way of life. Decision makers on all levels, both in Sweden and internationally, need improved insights into these complex issues to be able to make adequate decisions about adaptive climate change strategies.
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