Pastures under pressure. Effects of other land users and the environment
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Reindeer habitats cover most vegetation zones of northern Fennoscandia, from boreal forest to coastal and alpine areas (Chapters 1 and 3). These vegetation zones are used during different seasons for reindeer grazing and determine specific seasonal grazing patterns within each herding district. This traditional practice of freely roaming reindeer herds depends on the availability of and accessibility to these season-specific pastures, as well as their ability to move between them. However, it is challenged by almost every other form of parallel land use in the reindeer herding area. In northern Fennoscandia, large-scale industrial resource developments started to increase from the early to mid-20th century. These included infrastructure, hydropower and the spread of commercial forestry. Such anthropogenic pressures can cause loss, fragmentation or degradation of reindeer pastures, or result in disturbances affecting reindeer behaviour, so that behavioural changes exacerbate biophysical losses (Skarin & Åhman 2014; Tyler et al. 2021). Shrinking pastures therefore threaten not only the ecological basis of reindeer foraging but also the traditional practice of utilizing natural grazing resources intrinsic to reindeer husbandry. To address the complexity of pastures under pressure, a clarification of the term “pasture” is required.