Science and Politics in Old-Growth Forest Conflict in Upper Lapland

in Nature and Culture

This article illustrates the interconnectedness of science and politics through a case study of old-growth forest conflict in Finnish Upper Lapland. It demonstrates the ways in which “traditional science“ has failed to settle the decades-long conflict between state forestry and traditional Sámi reindeer herding, and discusses the potential of democratization of science through more inclusive forms of knowledge production. The analysis, which is based on qualitative interview data, shows that a traditional science focus on biological indicators and mathematical modeling has provided only a partial account of the reindeer herding-forestry interactions by ignoring the local, place-specific practices that are equally important in understanding the overall quality of pasture conditions in Upper Lapland. It concludes that an inclusive inquiry, structured according to the principles of joint fact-finding, could create a more policy-relevant, and also more scientifically robust, knowledge basis for future forest management and policy decisions.