Indigenous leaders, reindeer herders, caribou hunters, scientists and policy makers from ten countries will gather next week (February 10 - 14) in Rovaniemi, Finland to discuss the role of humans in managing and protecting reindeer and caribou, the most important land-based species for people living in the Arctic. The Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland together with the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College is hosting this meeting in order to develop an international science plan that will guide research for the next decade. The conference, "The Human Role in Reindeer/Caribou Systems: Coping with Threats to Environmental Security in Northern Landscapes," will explore the impact of human activity on arctic caribou and reindeer communities.
Arctic residents face dramatic changes to the biological resources vitally important to their physical and cultural survival. The workshop will be the world's first gathering of natural and social scientists and indigenous peoples to address changes in arctic caribou and reindeer systems. The goal is to develop and widely disseminate a comprehensive plan for scientific research that promotes the physical and cultural well being of Arctic residents and reduces conflicts over resource use and the timing and scope of extractive development. The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), representing national science organizations in 17 countries, has adopted this project as a priority on the IASC science agenda.
Caribou and reindeer (scientifically known as Rangifer tarandus) play a crucial role in human habitation of the Arctic by providing food, shelter and transportation. The animals are central to the cultures of many indigenous peoples, including the Chukchi, Cree, Dene, Even, Evenki, Gwi'chin, Innu, Inuit, Metis, Nenets, Saami, Sakha (Yakut), Yukagir and Yupiit.