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How many reindeer does Finland need? 203,700, say ministry experts

A sustainable future for reindeer herding will require improvements to northern grazing areas.

Poro.
Image: Risto Degerman / Yle

Over the past year, a working group at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been examining the future of commercial reindeer herding in Finland, including the issue of how many domesticated reindeer there should be in the whole of the country.

Under a proposal submitted by the group on Monday, the number of reindeer should remain at its present level for at least the next ten years. That figure is currently capped at 203,700.

Reindeer are private property in Finland, but the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is empowered to set limits on how many there should be. Owners work together in reindeer grazing associations that cover specific geographic areas.

The current government's programme includes the aim of promoting reindeer herding as a profitable, sustainable, and culturally significant means of livelihood.

Although the total permitted number of the beasts does not look set to change, the ministry's working group is proposing that each grazing association draw up its own grazing land management and use plan with the aim of improved sustainability.

Under this latest proposal, reindeer grazing associations would be required to chose and implement no fewer than two of five suggestions on it has come up with on ways to improve their grazing lands.

In addition, the working group has proposed that individual members of grazing associations should own no more than 500 reindeer. This change is aimed at expanding the number of people engaged in reindeer herding as their main livelihood.

Actual changes to legislation will not be seen until the beginning of June 2020.

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