Is it possible to reconcile the interests of all land users? Whose priorities are the most important? Researchers and various stakeholders having interest in land use modes such as mining, forestry and reindeer herding had a heated debate.
The panel session “Sustainable development and modes of land use: reconciliation of different land users' interests” began with Michel Julien presententing the Canadian case of Agnico Eagle Mines Limited. “When the whole industry went south, we decided to go north and it turned out as a very good move for us”, he explained and added: “one of the things we had to learn was that we were operating on the land that belonged to someone else – the indigenous people, Inuit”.
The consent of local communities was further discussed by Pamela Lesser, researcher at the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland. There are different reconciliation approaches. One of them is the informal framework of the Social License to Operate that is defined as existing when a project has the ongoing approval or acceptance within the local community and other stakeholders.
Kirsi-Marja Korhonen, Regional Director at Metsähallitus, stressed that all Metsähallitus forests are managed as multiple use forests which often leads to conflict as interests of different users are difficult to reconciliate.
The Executive Director of Reindeer Herders’ Association, Anne Ollila, said that reindeer herders' interests are not given enough attention: “we do not have any real influence – we have nothing to say anything about whether the mining company will open or not. At best, we are asked on which side of the forest we want the entrance to the mine be. The only choice we are given is to choose which consequence we prefer and this has nothing to do with real reconciliation”.
Hannele Pokka, the Chair of Finnish Network for Sustainable Mining, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of the Environment, highlighted that local authorities have the power to veto the use of land that brings damage to the communities and that land users should communicate with them. Pamela Lesser added that the role of leadership is crucial in consultation and participation and that communities need capable and knowledgeable spokespersons to speak up on their behalf.
Regional Director at Metsähallitus reminded that theforest cannot be divided to different parts serving particular groups of stakeholders: “We have to make all aspects work at the same time”, she concluded.
Photo: Marko Junttila/Arctic Centre