Sámi reindeer herders oppose industrial railway cutting through their land

By agency reporter
March 1, 2019

Seven Sámi reindeer herding cooperatives have given official statements to oppose the planned industrial railway line that would cut through their herding areas in the Great Northern Forest in Finland. They demand that the project should be abandoned and taken out from the regional land use plan. 

“The Arctic railway would mean the end of our way of life. I live under this threat every single day as the railway would destroy my past, my future and my identity”, said Jussa Seurujärvi, a Sámi reindeer herder of the Muddusjärvi reindeer herding cooperative in Inari, Finland.

The Indigenous Sàmi communities in Northern Finland have practiced traditional reindeer-herding for generations. The reindeer depend on lichen of the old-growth forests of the Great Northern Forest during the winter. Industrial forestry has been destroying and fragmenting these forests for years, pushing communities to their limit.

The Arctic railway is a project that is being planned would connect Finland, and its natural resources, to the Arctic Ocean. It will facilitate the opening of mines in the Sámi Homeland, as well as serving the development of the logging industry.

A report commissioned by the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications has stated that the project is not economically viable. However´the regional authority, Lapin liitto, is including the project in the regional land use plan thus keeping the threat hanging on the reindeer herders.

“The Finnish government is trading away our rights and our land. We do not consent”, added Seurujärvi.

Greenpeace has worked with the Sámi since 2002 to push back against the logging industry and to protect the Great Northern Forest critical to reindeer herding, biodiversity and climate.

“The Finnish government is betting that the melting Arctic will provide a trade route to exploit Sámi lands. They want more pulp mills and more logging to Finland. It is insane. We can’t afford losing any more of the carbon sink nor the biodiversity of these northern forests”, said Matti Liimatainen, Greenpeace Nordic forest campaigner.

* Greenpeace International https://www.greenpeace.org/international/

[Ekk/6]

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