(Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 11 March 2013) -- The Sami, an indigenous people living in northern Sweden, want higher compensation for their reindeer that are killed by other animals, reports Swedish Radio news. More than 5,000 bear, lynx, wolverine, and wolves are found in Sweden today. That's double the number of predatory wildlife from the time the reindeer compensation system was put in place in the mid-1990s. Most predatory animals live in reindeer areas. The Swedish National Sami Association says many of the 51 Sami reindeer herding communities are having a tough time. The association wants to reduce the numbers of predatory animals in their areas and get more in compensation for reindeer losses. Lena Ek, Sweden's Environmental Minister, says the issue will be taken up this fall when the government presents its plan for predatory wildlife. Sweden needs to be prepared to pay if it wants to continue to protect such animals, she says.
Posted 12 March 2013; 7:58:33 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 21 March 2012) -- The Fram Center in Tromsø, Northern Norway, has launched a new blog – Fram Shorts, where scientists from some 20 different institutions will inform about research to an international audience. Through short videos Fram Center staff will present their work on research and surveillance of environment and climate in the Arctic. Fram Shorts is launched as a blog and on You Tube, Facebook and Twitter. www.framshorts.com The Fram Centre is the short name for FRAM – High North Research Centre for Climate and the Environment. The Fram Centre is based in Tromsø, and consists of about 500 scientists from 20 institutions involved in interdisciplinary research in the fields of natural science, technology and social sciences. Read also: Free access to research documents on the High North
Posted 21 March 2012; 10:52:51 AM. Permalink
(Norden, 12 May 2011) -- A new report from the Nordic Council of Ministers looks at the long term development in the Arctic region. The report focuses on the current and the likely future situation in the Arctic by going through the challenges and tendencies at work in the region. The current pace of global change has already had a decisive impact on the Arctic. To understand the current and likely future situation in the Arctic it is important to acknowledge the pre-conditions, challenges and tendencies at work in the region. Some of these developments should be characterized as megatrends because they overarch and impact on everything else. They are trends deemed so powerful that they have the potential to transform society across social categories and at all levels, from individuals and local-level players to global structures, and eventually to change our ways of living and thinking. The report Megatrends in the Arctic looks at the development in the Arctic through this lens and presents a long-term perspective on this crucial region.
Posted 12 May 2011; 4:43:46 PM. Permalink
(Moscow Times, 28 March 2011) -- Norway welcomed a Russian State Duma vote ratifying a treaty to divide the Barents Sea into clear Norwegian and Russian zones, bringing Norway closer to a new oil and gas drive in the Arctic. "The action in the Duma is gratifying and is a big step toward implementing the agreement," Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Kjetil Elsebutangen said Saturday, a day after Russia's lower house of parliament ratified the deal. Earlier this month, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Norway would begin a formal study into offshore oil and gas exploration along the newly delineated boundary in the Barents Sea soon after Russia ratifies the treaty. Approval by Russia's upper house, or Federation Council, is considered a formality as it regularly rubber stamps initiatives from President Dmitry Medvedev, who helped negotiate the Barents treaty in Oslo and signed off on its terms last September. Norway's parliament ratified it Feb. 8. Elsebutangen said the line, running between Norwegian and Russian archipelagos most of the way to the North Pole, will become law 30 days after Medvedev signs it and the two countries formally "exchange documents." "We hope that won't take long," he said, adding that the deal "will open the way for new rules on new opportunities to exploit resources." The area to be divided after 40 years of dispute is about half the size of Germany.
Posted 30 March 2011; 12:05:42 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 9 November 2010) -- With growing international interest in Arctic oil and gas reserves, Sweden's icebreaker fleet is set to play a bigger role in shipping, prospecting, and research expeditions in the region. While the main task of the icebreaker fleet is to keep shipping lanes open in the Baltic Sea in the winter, there are increasing opportunities in the Arctic during the summer, said Thomas Årnell, head of ship management at the Swedish Maritime Administration. "Research activity has been growing in the region for some time. But in recent years there's been more and more sea bed mapping by countries who want to assert their rights over the territory as well as prospecting for oil," he said. Sweden is one of just a half dozen countries operating icebreakers. Its fleet of five state-owned ships, originally owned by the navy, is the world's third largest, behind Russia and Finland. The fleet's flagship, the Oden, was the world's first non-nuclear icebreaker to make it to the North Pole in the early nineties. It is now entirely devoted to polar research and commercial expeditions. The ship, equipped with state of the art sea bed imaging equipment, recently returned from a controversial mapping exercise off the coast of Greenland, where it was leased out to a US oil prospecting company. It's now en route to the Antarctic, where a crew of Swedish and American researcher will carry out polar research on board. "Almost all the research they will do down there is related to climate change — such as mapping large scale ocean currents around the Antarctic and measuring carbon dioxide levels," explained Björn Dahlbäck, director of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, who was part of the research team on the first ever Swedish icebreaker expedition to the Arctic in 1980. "There are only a couple of other ships in the world able to go into thick ice and do Arctic research. So there is quite a high demand from other countries to use it.”
(BarentsObserver, 2 August 2010) -- Defence authorities have approved plans for a new wind power plant in Malå, northern Sweden. Defence officials long believed that the 22-windmill park would hamper flight activities in the area. Defence experts now conclude that the wind park does not threaten air traffic in the area, Norran.se reports. The wind park in one of several, which are under planning in northern Sweden. Among them is the Markbygdens Wind Power project outside Pitaå, which includes 1100 windmills and will produce up to 12 TWh. According to Norran.no, new wind power projects with generating capabilities of 16 TWh is currently under planning in Sweden. The authorities intend to boost wind capacity to at least 30 TWh.
Posted 2 August 2010; 12:48:16 PM. Permalink
(Nordic Council News, 18 May 2010) -- The EU member states, Russia, Norway and Iceland are to work more closely together on cultural issues after the joint International Forum for the establishment of new tools for cultural co-operation in Northern Europe. High-level officials from the countries will sign a Memorandum of Understanding in Saint Petersburg, 20-21 May. The Forum in St. Petersburg brings together individuals involved in the cultural sphere, creative enterprises, cultural institutions and officials from 11 countries to look at ways of boosting the creative economy in the area covered by the Northern Dimension. All of the European countries are currently discussing how to adopt these concepts and develop the potential for a creative economy, a growth sector capable of creating jobs and prosperity but which lacks funding and investment tools. The Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC) is a new initiative for Northern Europe scheduled to be up and running in 2011. Its main objective is to facilitate access to funding for long-term projects and for enterprises capable of generating jobs and becoming self-sustainable. The NDPC will complement existing national and international organisations and institutions working on cultural co-operation and exchange, providing an extra platform to facilitate and promote dialogue and the exchange of best practices in the cultural sphere.
Posted 19 May 2010; 4:37:32 PM. Permalink
(Norden News, 16 March 2010) -- The Swedish historian Gunnar Wetterberg has been commissioned to expand upon his vision of a new Nordic federal state in the Nordic Council of Ministers' and Nordic Council's Yearbook 2010, which will be published in the autumn. Wetterberg published two articles about a new Nordic union in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter last autumn. They caused such a stir and attracted so much attention that he has now been asked to elaborate upon his thinking in the yearbook. On Friday 19 March, the historian will take part in a debate staged in the Danish parliament, where he will account for his ’realistic utopia’ of a Nordic federal state in relation to the Øresund Region. The meeting is being arranged by the Öresund Committee and the Nordic Region in Focus to mark the 10th anniversary of the Øresund Bridge and the Øresund Region. He will be joined by Cristina Husmark Pehrsson, the Swedish Minister for Nordic Co-operation, and several other politicians and business representatives from the Øresund Region.
Posted 21 March 2010; 7:19:38 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 18 February 2010) -- Near 9,000 soldiers from 14 countries participates when the exercise Cold Response 2010 started in Northern Norway this week. This year is the first time such NATO exercise also includes Swedish territory. The exercise involves land forces, air forces and naval forces. The portal of the Norwegian Armed Forces reports that some 1,000 Special Forces soldiers will participate. Largest part of the activity will be in the northern part of Nordland County and the southern part of Troms County. The exercise Cold Response 2010 is said to be the highest priority for the Norwegian military this year. Cold Response 2010 has some 1,500 more soldiers than the exercise Cold Response 2009. The soldiers are not only from NATO member countries. Swedish soldiers participate and for the first time NATO’s Cold Response exercise includes military activity within Swedish territory. The territory in question is the area from Riksgrensen to Abisko in the municipality of Kiruna. Swedish Sami Radio reports that the Sami reindeer herders in the area are opposing the exercise claiming the military activity happens without first consulting the reindeer herders. Some 1,000 Swedish soldiers participate in Cold Response 2010. Sweden is cooperating with NATO through the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme, but the background for Sweden’s participation in the exercise is the framework agreement for the Nordic Defence Cooperation, according to the portal of the Swedish Armed Forces. United Kingdom participates in the exercise with their largest warship, HMS Ocean. The vessel with its crew of 1.000 persons is operating in the region as part of the UK's Amphibious Task Group, according to the portal of the Royal Navy. Other forces include U.S. Marines, soldiers that see such exercise in Norway’s harsh Arctic winter environment as a realistic combat training opportunity, reports the portal of the US Marines. The last time U.S. Marines participated in such NATO exercise in Northern Norway was in 2005. All soldiers from the 14 participating countries will during the exercise focus on cold weather maritime/amphibious operations, interoperability of expeditionary forces, and special and conventional ground operations. Cold Response 2010 will go on until March 4th. Till now, the such NATO exercise in Northern Norway has been annually, but according to the portal of the Norwegian Armed Forces the larger NATO exercises will from now on be held each second year.
Posted 24 February 2010; 7:28:37 AM. Permalink
(YLE, 18 February 2010) -- A severe lack of teachers could threaten the future of the languages of the indigenous Sami people in Finland. The critical nature of the shortage of teachers came to light in a study carried out for the Giellagas Institute at the University of Oulu which surveyed the educational needs in Finland related to Sami language and culture. The Sami are an indigenous people that live traditionally in Finnish Lapland, the Kola peninsula and central and northern parts of Sweden and Norway. About 6,400 Sami live in Finland. The report notes that an investment is needed in training Sami language teachers and other educators who speak the language. It suggests that teacher training be organized at one of the universities in the north of the country and in Sami-speaking areas. It calls for special attention to be given to the future of the languages spoken by the Inari Sami and the Skolt Sami.
Posted 21 February 2010; 7:04:56 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 14 February 2010) -- Last week saw the Sami people of the Nordic nations and their Russian counterparts come together to observe Sami People’s Day. February 6th commemorates the date in 1917 where the first joint Sami congress was held in Trondheim, Norway. This congress represented the first time that both Norwegian and Swedish Sami had come together across their borders to work together in finding solutions for common problems. The resolution for the 6th of February celebrations was officially passed in 1992 in Helsinki at the 15th Sami congress. Since 1993 Sweden, Norway and Finland have all recognized this date as Sami National Day with cross-border cooperation continuing to this day.
Posted 14 February 2010; 2:48:48 PM. Permalink
(NRK via Barents Observer, 4 January 2010) -- Air temperatures in the Arctic were in November and December between 5 and 9 degrees above the average, Norwegian meteorologist Vidar Eng confirms. The measurements, which have been made at Norwegian meteorologist stations in the Arctic in the last two months of 2009, showed a major increase compared with average figures from the period. Mr. Eng from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute in Tromsø believes the high temperatures could come from combined number of reasons, and first of all from the less amounts of ice in the area and the higher temperatures in the sea water. For all of 2009, the average temperature was three degrees higher than normal, NRK reports.
Posted 3 January 2010; 9:48:40 PM. Permalink
(YLE, 30/31 December 2009) -- Over the past couple of weeks, around 20,000 visitors arrived in Lapland without their bags. Often the luggage has shown up just as they were leaving. "We've had to take care of customers' lost luggage issues the whole time. It's natural that they would turn to us for help," says receptionist Arja Haapakorva from Rovaniemi's City Hotel. "Thankfully Rovaniemi's tour operators came to the rescue, and provided warm overalls to our freezing customers." Temperatures in Lapland have dropped below -20 degrees Celsius while the luggage fiasco has been going on at Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Sports outfitters in Lapland have made a killing selling shivering visitors complete kit, from long underwear to parkas and everything in between. "When you have nothing, it's understandable that you buy everything," says Hanna Uusitalo, a salesperson at City Sport in Rovaniemi. For other visitors, the lost luggage is even more serious that being literally caught out in the cold. ... At the beginning of the week, around 4,000 bags were orphaned at the airport. There are still 100-200 bags stranded at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport, but these should be delivered by the end of the week. Finnair blames the baggage pileup on the snowy conditions. However, luggage-handling union representatives point the finger at staff shortages due to layoffs. At the beginning of the week, around 4,000 bags were orphaned at the airport. There are still 100-200 bags stranded at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport, but these should be delivered by the end of the week. Finnair blames the baggage pileup on the snowy conditions. However, luggage-handling union representatives point the finger at staff shortages due to layoffs.
Posted 31 December 2009; 11:04:41 AM. Permalink
(AFP, 29 December 2009) -- OSLO -- Power distribution in Norway's Arctic Lofoten archipelago resumed midday Tuesday after an outage deprived 30,000 residents of electricity for several hours, the local provider said.
Posted 29 December 2009; 12:26:27 PM. Permalink
(AFP, 29 December 2009) -- Around 25,000 residents of the Arctic Norwegian Lofoten archipelago were deprived of electricity by a power outage Tuesday, electricity provider Lofotkraft said. Temperatures in the region at this time of year vary from minus 10 to minus seven degrees Celsius (19.4 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit) and there are only a few hours of sunlight per day. "The power failure has been located and repairs have started," Lofotkraft said in a statement. "We think that electricity distribution will resume before the end of the day," it added.
Posted 29 December 2009; 12:25:11 PM. Permalink
(David Landes/The Local, 29 December 2009) -- An internet technician’s holiday travels have left a remote mountain village in northern Sweden cut off from the internet, causing a dent in the town’s winter tourism bookings. The roughly 160 residents of Ammarnäs in Sweden’s far north have been without internet services since before Christmas Eve. And they won’t likely be able to get back online until January 11th when the town’s only repairman returns from vacation. The disruption in internet service has frustrated many local tourist operators, who, along with reindeer herders, represent the lifeblood of the area economy. “Several hunters from abroad have called and asked why they can’t book spots in Ammarnäs,” tour operator Anne Kathrine Ödegård told the Västerbottens-Kuriren newspaper. She and several other business owners have both their telephone and booking systems connected to the internet and are concerned about not being able to maintain contact with their clients. Municipal officials said on Monday that they have entered into negotiations with Telia in order to connect the town to the telecom operator’s network. Ammarnäs town head Göran Wikström promised on Monday that residents would be connected to the internet “as soon as practically possible”.
Posted 29 December 2009; 2:41:02 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 12 December 2009) -- Are you curious about the Norwegian-Russian borderland? BarentsObserver now launches its BorderZone project, a web portal with comprehensive news, contact data and practical information from the two neighboring municipalities of Sør-Varanger and Pechenga. The new portal offers extensive contact information to shops, offices, business, organizations, media, schools, culture organization, places to eat, hotels and much more. It is also offers a comprehensive introduction to cross-border travelling, visa issues and transport, and keeps you updated with news information from the area. The BorderZone website is located at the address:www.barentsobserver.com/borderzone The two municipalities of Sør-Varanger and Pechenga are neighbors across the 196-km-long Norwegian-Russian border. For decades, Cold War tensions made cross-border contact between people in the area almost impossible. The 1990s saw a major increase in cross-border travelling. Still, contacts between Sør-Varanger and Pechenga even today remains at a modest level. The new portal is made to facilitate cross-border knowledge and contacts between people living in the borderland area. It is however also a useful tool for other people interested in the area, be it business people, officials, researchers or other. The BorderZone website is established with project support from the Norwegian Barents Secretariat.
Posted 25 December 2009; 12:18:48 PM. Permalink
(The Local, 12 December 2009) -- If all goes to plan, billionaire Richard Branson’s spaceships will take off with tourists on board in 2012 – from Kiruna in the far north of Sweden. “Space tourism sounds like science fiction, but we are talking about only a number of years into the future,” Johanna Bergström-Roos, from the Esrange space centre in Kiruna, told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Earlier last week, billionaire Richard Branson paraded his company Virgin Galactic’s specially designed tourist ship ‘SpaceShipTwo’, which will take tourists out into space. Virgin Galactic, has selected two 'spaceports', from where tourists will be able to launch into space. One of the spaceports is in New Mexico, while the other is the Sweden Spaceport, in Kiruna. If all goes according to plan, space tourists may be flocking to Kiruna within several years. “Virgin Galactic has its spaceport in America and will commence their first flights there in 2011. When they have been operating for half a year, it will then be time for the European market, and they’ll then come to us,” Bergström-Roos told Dagens Nyheter. In an earlier interview with TV4, Branson said that space journeys from Kiruna could be a reality by 2012. “We would love to send up people in a rocket so that they get to experience the northern lights from space. Sweden has been very welcoming and very enthusiastic about this project, so I am hopeful that fairly soon after we start our space programme from New Mexico we can start up in the north of Sweden.”
Posted 12 December 2009; 5:08:27 PM. Permalink
(Nordic Council News, 11 December 2009) -- Sunday, December 13, a large shipment of seed samples reaches the airport of Longyearbyen, Svalbard. More than 50,000 seed samples have finally arrived at their destination—the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The shipment contains seeds from crops adapted to dry climates. Among them is sorghum, a high energy crop, known for its wide adaptability and resistance to drought. This "camel among crops" could be a key to agricultural development in areas affected by aridity and saline soils. Among the depositors are two major agricultural research centers, both working with adaptation of plants to dryer areas: ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas) and ICRISAT (International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics).
Posted 11 December 2009; 4:13:50 PM. Permalink
The unusual light phenomenon above the Norwegian city of Skjeroy worried residents and baffled astronomers
(Tom Peck/The Independent, 11 December 2009) -- When the people of Tromso in Norway's northern reaches awoke to the sight of a giant blue and white spiral of light hanging in the still dark sky above them, they were understandably shocked. It didn't look like the northern lights. Was it a meteor? A UFO? Calls flooded in to radio stations and air-traffic control towers. Astronomers were baffled. Extra-terrestrial enthusiasts got on their blogs. "It looked like a rocket that spun around and around and then went diagonally across the heavens," said Totto Eriksen, who saw the display while driving his daughter to school. And when an explanation finally came, he wasn't far wrong. It turned out to be a failed Russian nuclear-capable missile test launch. The new Bulava missile was fired from the submarine Dmitry Danskoi, the Russian defence ministry confirmed. The White Sea, close to Norway's Arctic region, is Russia's standard missile-testing site. This one failed at the third stage. Eyewitnesses described a blue light that seemed to soar up from behind a mountain in the north of the country. Others said it in stopped mid-air, then began to move in circles. Within seconds a giant spiral had covered the entire sky. Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its centre, lasting for 10 to 12 minutes before disappearing. The missile is a key part of Russia's plan to rebuild its ageing weapons arsenal. But it has been beset by problems which have caused increasing embarrassment. Yesterday was the seventh time in at least 12 test launches that the missile has failed.
Posted 11 December 2009; 1:11:52 PM. Permalink
(Nordic Council News, 7 December 2009) -- In the run-up to the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Region in Focus co-hosted a panel discussion on how climate change affects women and men in different ways, and forces them to make changes in their ways of life. Norwegian journalist and author Åsne Seierstad chaired the event. The Council of Ministers in Copenhagen also inaugurated an exhibition about how men in the north and women in the south are affected by climate change. Malin Jennings is the founder of the Arctic ICCE (Indigenous Climate Change Ethnographies). For years, she has followed the lives of the small Inuit communities in Greenland. In these societies, the men were hunters while the women took care of the animals, made food from the meat and sewed garments from the hides. But the warmer climate has made hunting more difficult. "The ice freezes later and is thinner than before," Jennings explains. "The men can't hunt on ice thinner than six centimetres.
Posted 11 December 2009; 1:10:17 PM. Permalink
(NRK Sámi Radio via Barents Indigenous People, 30 November 2009) -- Sara Larsson, the President of the Saami Parliament in Sweden, and
Egil Olli, President of the Saami Parliament in Norway, are both
included in the respective state delegations to the United Nations Climate Change Conference,
taking place in Copenhagen on December 5th and 6th 2009. Norway decided
earlier to include the political leader of the Saami Parliament in
their delegation, whereas there has been a discussion regarding the
participation of the political level of the Saami Parliament in Sweden.
The question regarding political participation of the Saami
Parliament in Finland in the official Finnish delegation is not yet
solved, NRK Sámi Radio reports.
Indigenous peoples from the entire world are expected to Copenhagen,
both as official delegates, but also as NGOs. Climate change is among
the main concerns of indigenous peoples, as indigenous peoples most
often experience the consequences in their livelihood.
Climate change was the topic at the seventh session of the United
Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2008, and information
can be found at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/climate_change.html
Posted 3 December 2009; 8:29:19 AM. Permalink
(Daily Mail, 14 November 2009) -- Hundreds of reindeer on their annual migration across a frozen lake above Sweden's Arctic Circle have drowned as ice collapsed beneath them. The herd of around 3,000 reindeer were being moved by their Sami herders from the western shore of the frozen lake Kutjaure to their winter grazing grounds in the east. Suddenly, some reindeer at the front turned back, causing the ice to crack and several hundreds to drown. 'In the ensuing commotion the whole herd moved in circles, adding great pressure and weight on the ice,' said Erik Gustavsson, a manager at the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten. The reindeer crashed through the ice and then trampled on each other as they tried to climb out of the water, he said. The indigenous Sami population live year-round in the harsh conditions of northern Sweden, Norway and Finland and are highly dependent on the reindeer for their livelihood. There are some 20,000 Swedish Sami who herd reindeer. Bertil Kielatis, chairman of the Sirges Sami village that owns the reindeer,said he had never seen anything similar in his lifetime and that there was no clear explanation as to why the herd hesistated to move forward. 'Probably, they were fightened by something or felt worried,' said Kielatis. Video on the website of Sweden's television channel, SVT, showed hundreds of carcasses lining the muddy shore of lake Kutjaure, which has been used for decades to transport the reindeer from their summer grazing fields to the 'winterland', where they spend the winter months. On Friday, two helicopters assisted the herders with dragging the dead reindeer from the lake. Kielatis said because of the herd's special breeding value, the economic loss could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. As it is too expensive to bury or transport the dead, their bodies will most likely be scattered in the surrounding wilderness, he said. [See also "Reindeer herd drowns in icy Lapland waters" at The Local: Sweden's News in English, 13 November 2009.]
Posted 14 November 2009; 7:15:04 PM. Permalink
(RedOrbit, 13 November 2009) -- The penalty of the global climate change has hit Norway’s reindeer populace as warming temperatures harm food stocks and industry expansion gobbles up grazing land for the creatures. "Over the past three years, I've had to give some hay to my 800 reindeer during the coldest months. It's more expensive and it gives me more work," Jan Egil Trasti, a Norwegian reindeer herder, told AFP. This occurs because the lichen the animals feed on is becoming scarce as winter temperatures warm up. Grazing land is also vanishing as construction, pipelines, and roads cover pastures. Trasti's nomadic relatives have herded these creatures for centuries. "I have it in my blood. I hope one of my sons will take over," Trasti said. This month the snow has not yet covered the flowers in the North. Temperatures in this area are usually meek. In the past, when the snows have fallen, it drifts upon dry ground, but now it will land on lichen bloated with water. In September, an investigation in the journal Science detailed the remarkable effects on animals in the Arctic due to the gradual warming that has occurred in the past 150 years. Jonathan Colman, an authority on "reindeer ecology" at the University of Oslo, stated that occasionally "there's wet ice in the lichen. It gets into their stomachs and they can't digest the food."
Posted 13 November 2009; 2:48:19 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 11 November 2009) -- An agreement between a Finnish state-owned forestry company and the environmental organization Greenpeace has led to the preservation of large areas of old forest in Northern Finland. After reaching an agreement with a state-owned forestry company on preservation of old forests in Lapland, Greenpeace Nordic has decided to withdraw from Finnish Lapland and move its target area to Indonesia. According to the website Forest.fi, a longstanding dispute between state-owned forestry company Metsähallitus and Greenpeace concerning old-growth forests in Central, or Forest Lapland was over when an agreement was reached in the end of October. The agreement covers some 44,200 hectares of forest land. Of them, 6,600 hectares will remain available for normal multiple-use forestry. 2,700 hectares remain in restricted forestry use, and 35,000 hectares are excluded from forestry operations. The solution prevents future felling of 1.7 million cubic meters of wood. The final agreement was reached in a steering group which consists of, in addition to Metsähallitus and Greenpeace, the Regional Council of Lapland, Lapland Regional Environment Centre, Finnish Reindeer Owners’ Association, and representatives from the forest industry and the Sámi Parliament.
Posted 11 November 2009; 4:13:30 PM. Permalink
(UArctic News, 2 November 2009) -- UArctic member organizations in Sweden gather
in Abisko, Sweden, for two days of meetings to discuss participation in
UArctic's programs and coordination of fundraising activities in
Sweden. Christer Jonasson from Abisko
hosts the meeting. Lars Kullerud, President of UArctic, also
participates in the meeting. "We look forward to increased engagement
in UArctic from all Swedish members. Also, as currently we don't have a
UArctic Office in Sweden, we look forward to Swedish members to come
forward to take a leadership role in a UArctic activity."
Posted 2 November 2009; 7:33:59 AM. Permalink
(Eliza Wilmerding/Dallas Morning News, 1 November 2009) -- ABISKO MOUNTAIN STATION, Sweden - Twelve miles into Sweden's King's Trail, we find our rhythm and tune in to the arctic snow. This singing powder is so dry you could swim in it and not get wet. There's no chance of it sticking to your skis – or to itself. (My snowball looked like a mass of sparkling confetti.) And in a few days, thanks to a drop in air temperature, we'll ski through reflective ice crystals tumbling out of the clear blue sky.We'd found our frozen world. It was everything that we could ask for.When my fiancé was offered a job in southern Sweden weeks before our fall wedding, we jumped at it. I'd read of Swedes lacing up their skates and carving down frozen canals or ski touring across the countryside outside their doors. We could live like that.Reality struck when we flew into perpetually spitting rain, then winter darkness and more rain. Searching for rubber boots in a Gothenburg shoe store, I met a fellow American. She asked if I'd be around through the winter. I nodded."You poor dear," she said. "Last year, we went crazy and had to go south for a break."For most people, it's a no-brainer to head to the tropics for winter vacation. We're wired differently. We like snow more than sand or saltwater. We went north to find a frozen world.
Posted 1 November 2009; 9:40:21 AM. Permalink
(Nordic Council News, 27 October 2009) -- The Nordic prime ministers have rejected a controversial proposal for political union with Queen Margrethe II of Denmark as the head of state. The proposal to revive the Kalmar Union (1397–1523) was published in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter today to coincide with the annual Session of the Nordic Council, which is being held in Stockholm. It is the brainchild of leading Swedish historian Gunnar Wetterberg. The respected social commentator believes that a federal Nordic state would make a greater international impact because the combined economy of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland would make it the 10th biggest in the world.At a news conference at the Nordic Council Session, the prime ministers made it clear that they think the existing form of partnership is sufficiently close, robust and capable of coping with the global challenges of the future, including climate change, the environment and energy, and distanced themselves from the proposal, which has caused quite a stir in the Nordic media.
Posted 30 October 2009; 11:11:56 AM. Permalink
(Nordic Council News, 28 October 2009) -- "The Arctic isn't just all ice, polar bears and glaciers. People live there too. And they need development opportunities. The issue of a new global climate agreement concerns us all, and it should be based on the principles of mutual respect for each other's circumstances, social and developmental justice and the willingness to take global responsibility," Kleist told the conference. He also stressed that it is much easier to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a high starting point than from a low one. "I hope therefore that a new climate agreement will allow less developed countries to establish new industries, despite the higher emissions they will cause, and that the rest of the world will help them to do so on a sustainable basis," he added. Kleist is a member of the Nordic Council Left-wing Socialist and Green Group (VSG).
Posted 28 October 2009; 10:06:16 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 13 October 2009) -- In the Government’s budget proposal for 2010, a record increase in funding of about NOK 530 million (Euro 64 million) has been proposed for a range of measures in the High North. The budget proposal includes a significantly increase in the funding for a number of areas, particularly value creation, knowledge-building and the environment. It includes an increase of NOK 112 million for emergency tugboat services in the north, NOK 50 million for onshore value creation, NOK 19 million for marine bioprospecting, NOK 17 million for the establishment of a centre for climate and environmental research in Tromsø and NOK 126 million for space-related activities. The Government proposes to allocate NOK 55 million to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Barents 2020 programme for knowledge-building in the north. This is an increase of NOK 20 million compared with 2009, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs writes in a press-release. "This is a project with a time horizon of generations. Since 2006 we have increased funding for our efforts in the High North by more than NOK 1.5 billion, and with these allocations we have made substantial progress," Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre commented. The Foreign Minister added: "We are now seeing that a number of countries are directing their attention towards the north, not least because of the opportunities and challenges related to energy, maritime transport and climate change. Norway will continue to play a leading role in the High North in cooperation with our neighbours and allies in the north." The 2010 budget proposal aims to further strengthen these efforts. "Under the Barents 2020 programme, the Government is creating arenas for cooperation between Norwegian and foreign centres of expertise with a view to increasing our knowledge about the High North," Mr Støre continued.
Posted 13 October 2009; 4:57:47 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 29 September 2009) -- A government appointed work group has declared that the indigenous Sami population of Sweden should be granted further freedom to undertake activities other than their traditional reindeer herding, as reported in The Local last week. Current legislation stipulates that the Sami herders are forbidden from partaking in activities other than reindeer herding, which was found to be antiquated by the working group. The group declared that in modern society it had become more difficult for Sami to support themselves through the solitary practice of herding and that the rules governing the people and the practice were in need of updating. There are approximately 20,000 Sami in Sweden, mostly located in the country's north, where their traditions have brought them increasingly under fire from animal rights activists. The working group’s proposal allows for those Sami who are not involved in herding to become a member of the sameby or ‘Sami village’ scheme. At present there are 51 samebys in Sweden. Samebys are the financial and administrative collectives that have sole reindeer herding rights. These collectives comprise of roughly 10 percent of the Sami population and also control fishing and hunting rights within their zone. The head of the governing board of the Sami Parliament Sara Larsson voiced both praise and disappointment at the proposal: “There are some good things there, but we had hoped for greater reforms which take into account the land and water rights of all Sami”. Larsson also criticised the group for not requesting that Sweden join the International Labour Organisation’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention. She did however praise efforts to encourage samebys to pursue activities outside of reindeer herding.
Posted 29 September 2009; 11:23:25 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 2 September 2009) -- Skolt Saami celebrated the 60th anniversary of their resettlement in northern Finland this past weekend with church service, music, party and visitors... Nearly 1,000 Saami from all over the world and from various parts of Finland had gathered in a festival tent in the yard of the 60-year-old school of Sevettijärvi, in order to exchange the latest information about the Skolts’ way of life. ... The efforts were crowned by an important event. Tarja Halonen, Finland's president arrived at the festival, expressing her support for the revival of Skolt Saami and Skolt culture. Today, the number of Skolts in Finland is approximately 600, with about 250 of them living in Sevettijärvi. The Skolt Saami or Skolts are a prominent Orthodox ethnic group in Finnish Lapland. During the Winter War (1939) and the Continuation War (1941-1944), the Skolt Saami were evacuated twice from their original homelands close to Petsamo (nowadays Pechenga) to other parts of Finland. After leaving behind burned villages, slaughtered reindeer, and facing deportations conducted by the Red Army, the Skolt Saami eventually settled in the villages of Nellim and Sevettijärvi in the municipality of Inari, in the far north of Finnish Lapland. Today, Skolt Saami are celebrating and looking forward to the future. ... In honour of the jubilee year, a new Skolt Sámi grammar was published. While a new spelling book is being waited for, teachers who are skilled in Skolt Saami are also being sought.
Posted 3 September 2009; 10:27:38 AM. Permalink
(ENS, 1 September 2009) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon traveled above the Arctic Circle today to experience for himself the impact of climate change on the fragile region. "I will try to deliver a clear strong message from my visit to the North Pole," Ban told reporters yesterday in Oslo. Secretary-General Ban wants to deliver that message to two important climate meetings before year's end. First, the meeting of government leaders that he will convene at UN Headquarters in New York on September 22, a time when heads of state and government will be there for the opening of the General Assembly. And, the make-it or break-it meeting December 7-18 in Copenhagen where a global agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions will be finalized to take effect after the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period expires at the end of 2012. Ban clearly feels the pressure of time. He repeats that only 15 days of negotiations remain before the start of December's climate change conference "Now is the time for decision-making," the Secretary-General stressed once again as he has many times this summer to a wide variety of audiences. "We must seal a deal in Copenhagen for a global, equitable and comprehensive deal for the future of humanity and the future of Planet Earth."
Posted 2 September 2009; 5:07:20 PM. Permalink
(New Europe, Issue 849, 30 August 2009) -- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to be in Norway’s Svalbard this week for a first-hand look at the damage caused by global warming to the Arctic Ocean, a UN spokeswoman said on August 24. Ban’s visit to Norway and the expected talks with government leaders has been overshadowed by sharp criticism from Norway’s UN Ambassador Mona Juul that the UN chief has been ineffective in carrying out his responsibilities. Oslo has played down Juul’s criticism, outlined in a letter she sent to her government and published in Oslo’s daily Aftenposten last week. The UN has refused to enter the debate, referring to it as an internal matter for Norwegians. “At the time when the need for the United Nations and for multinational solutions to global crises is greater than ever, Ban and the UN are conspicuous in their absence,” Aftenposten quoted the letter as saying. The letter said Ban was a “passive observer” in Myanmar’s imprisonment of political prisoners and he was “helpless” in stopping the ethnic war in Sri Lanka. Ban will meet with Norway’s prime minister and foreign minister August 31 and will travel to the Arctic region the following day.
Posted 31 August 2009; 12:35:45 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 31 August 2009) -- The Norwegian government has allocated money for the establishment of nautical studies in Vardø, home of the Vessel Traffic Centre for North Norway. The Norwegian Coastal Administration’s Vessel Traffic Centre (VTS) is responsible for monitoring and guiding of shipping traffic along the coast of Northern Norway. The vessel traffic centre plays a key role in Norway’s maritime safety cooperation with Russia. The Vardø VTS has since its opening in 2007 mainly been operated by commuters from other parts of Norway, and it has been difficult to recruit people with the right education among the 2600 local inhabitants. To improve the situation, Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Helga Pedersen has allocated 104.000 EUR for the establishment of a two year program in nautical studies in Vardø, Kystverket reports. The Vardø VTS is one of several measures promoted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs to improve maritime safety in northern areas and to meet the challenges that follow from the increase in oil-related traffic in the north. Vardø VTS is also intended to play a key role in expanded cooperation with Russia in the areas of maritime safety and contingency planning for combating oil spills. Norway and Russia have concluded an agreement to establish a joint Norwegian-Russian vessel traffic management information system, Barents VTMIS. As BarentsObserver reported, more than 15 million tons of oil will be shipped through the Barents Sea in 2009. In 2015 oil shipments in the area could amount to more than 100 million tons.
Posted 31 August 2009; 12:08:54 PM. Permalink
(The Barents Observer via IceNews, 10 August 2009) -- The Sami parliament (Samediggi) governing the indigenous Sami people in Norway, decided not to approve the new mining law which Norwegian legislators passed earlier this year, according to the Sami news source, The Barents Observer. Egil Olli, President of the Sami parliament, stated that the assembly strongly opposes any application for mineral exploration in the Finnmark region. The Sami Parliament demands that any resources and mineral exploration should benefit mainly the local Sami communities and population, which brings up the controversial ongoing debates regarding indigenous land rights in the region. Egil Olli continues to state that any mining projects will be rejected by the Sami Parliament in the Finnmark area.
Posted 27 August 2009; 4:28:48 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 18 August 2009) -- The Svalbard archipelago off northern Norway is far above the Arctic Circle and famous for its new international seed vault and for Longyearbyen, the northernmost town in the world with over 1,000 inhabitants. The islanders make most of their money from mining and come form all over the world due to the Spitsbergen Treaty which was signed shortly after the First World War. Under the treaty, Svalbard was ceded to Norway after centuries of claims and counter claims, including some bloodshed. The treaty stipulated though, that people of all signing nations have equal rights to settle and work in Svalbard—there are currently over 40 signatory nations. While people are forbidden to die in Svalbard due to the permafrost preserving corpses in their graves indefinitely, people are permitted to grow up there. In fact school has just reconvened with 241 students—28 more than this time last year, including 30 in the youngest year group. There are 1,821 residents in Longyearbyen, a town which holds a number of interesting records: “Longyearbyen is the world’s most northern easily accessible settlement, with Svalbard Airport just outside town offering regular flights to and from Tromsø and Oslo, Norway. The airport served 120,000 passengers in 2007. It is also the northernmost town over 1000 inhabitants; it houses a large number of northernmost places and objects of interest: the northernmost church, university campus, Rotary club, bank, automated teller machine, hospital, kindergarten, public library, night club, pub, school, supermarket, tourist office, permanent airport with scheduled flights, bus station, commercial sea port, taxi station, art gallery, cinema, climbing wall, squash court, swimming hall, and indoor target range,” according to Wikipedia.
Posted 18 August 2009; 11:00:24 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 17 August 2009) -- The Swedish state-owned mining company LKAB in the second quarter of 2009 had a loss of 558 million SEK (54.7 mill EUR). That is one of the worst results ever for the mining major in northern Sweden. "The second quarter of the year has been one of the most dramatic in the history of the plant," the company admits in its quarterly report. LKAB in the second quarter had a 72 percent drop in turnover to 1.72 billion SEK and deliveries shrunk 38 percent. At the same time, iron prices dropped significantly in the period. The reason is first of all the lower domestic and international demand on iron. The company does however expect an improvement of the situation in the second half of the year. Thanks to Chinese and Middle East customers, the number of deliveries will increase in the months ahead, the company report reads. The LKAB is mining iron ore in mines at Kiruna and at Malmberget in northern Sweden. The company which was established in 1890, is 100 percent state-owned since the 1950s. The iron ore is processed to pellets and fines, and transported by train to the harbours at Narvik and Luleå and to the steelmill at Luleå (SSAB).
Posted 17 August 2009; 11:29:01 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 11 August 2009) -- It is now very important to develop transport infrastructure in the North – between Murmansk Oblast and the province of Lapland, Finnish Transport Minister Anu Vehviläinen stressed during her visit to the Russian Arctic city last week. "We have actively developing transport connections between Helsinki and Moscow and Sankt Petersburg, but now it is very important to develop transport infrastructure also in the North, between Murmansk Oblast and the Province of Lapland," the minister said, according to a press release from the Murmansk regional administration. Minister Vehviläinen for the first time visited Murmansk, the site for major planned infrastructure investments over the next years. “The visit of the minister shows that the whole world including Finland is following the development of the Murmansk Transport Hub, the Shtokman project and the trans-border cooperation”, the press release from the regional administration reads.
Posted 10 August 2009; 10:56:48 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 5 August 2009) -- Norway has moved the headquarters of its armed forces from Oslo to the northern town of Bardufoss, part of a general strengthening of the country’s military capacities in its Arctic region, reports the Barents Observer. The moving comes as practically all key parts of the Norway's armed forces are moved to the northern parts of the country. The head command will operate from Reitan, a defense centre outside Bodø. Norway is also strengthening its military capacities in the region, with new modern frigates and the new fleet of fighter jets. The move, which was officially completed on August 3, is part of a major reform of the armed forces, Mil.ru says. This includes developing a slimmer, but more efficient military structure, the army leaders say.
Posted 6 August 2009; 3:11:34 AM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 21 July 2009) -- IKEA reps have confirmed that the company it's thinking about building a a new store in northern Norway, the Barents Observer reports. The city of Tromsø says it has shown several site to IKEA. People in northern Norway have been calling on IKEA to establish a warehouse in the region. In 2004, a group of IKEA fans there started a web site to urge IKEA to come north. Since then more than 30,000 people have signed the web site's petition. "I hope IKEA has noted the interest," Kim Hauglid, the web site's promoter, says. Tromsø and Narvik are believed to be the main competitors for the new store. Both city mayors confirm that IKEA has shown interest. Tromsø's mayor Arild Hausberg said IKEA showed “great interest” in one of the site locations presented by the city. A warehouse in Tromsø or Narvik would be the northernmost one for IKEA. IKEA has one store in Haparanda on the border between Sweden and Finland, which attracts a many customers from northern Norway.
Posted 22 July 2009; 4:39:10 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 22 July 2009) -- The Sami Parliament will not approve new mining projects in the northernmost Norwegian county of Finnmark, parliament speaker Egil Olli says. The Sami Parliament has strongly opposed the Norwegian national mineral law which was adopted by Norwegian legislators earlier this year. The parliament was unable to get its positions included in the law and has since threatened with a boycott of the new legislation. The Sami Parliament will not accept any mineral exploration in the region and will turn down all applications from interested companies, Olli stresse [sic] says to ABC Nyheter. "The Sami Parliament in May decided that it can not accept the mineral industry which the law is supposed to regulate," he adds. As reported previously by BarentsObserver, the Sami Parliament demands that local Sami communities get more benefits from regional industrial activities and that mining companies pay special fees for the indigenous people.
Posted 22 July 2009; 12:24:31 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden, 22 July 2009) -- An earthquake shook northern Sweden at 10:15 on Wednesday morning. The epicentre was located northwest of Kalix in the county of Norrbotten. The quake reached 3 on the Richter scale and could be felt in all the neighbouring municipalities and even as far out as in the northern archipelago. The broadcasting house in Luleå on the north eastern coast shuddered noticeably and many people from the area have reported that the windows rattled and that the earth shook. Earthquakes are unusual in Sweden and according to seismologist Reynir Bödvarsson at the Uppsala University this was a relatively powerful one.
Posted 22 July 2009; 11:56:14 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 22 July 2009) -- The energy company Troms Kraft is investing 700 million NOK in the construction of a new windmill park at Vannøya, northern Norway. Planned expansions of the park could give power to all of northern Norway, the company says. The first phase of the project will give power to 9000 households in the region. However a planned phase two and phase three could give energy to all of northern Norway, CEO of Troms Kraft Oddbjørn Schei says to newspaper Nordlys. "This is a historic day, it could not have been better," representative of the Norwegian Ministry of Oil and Petroleum Jarand Felland said at an project ceremony in early July. The first project phase includes up to 20 wind generators. They are to start power generation in 2012. As reported previously by BarentsObserver, a government decision to expand the power transmission grid in northern Norway could open a new era industrial initiatives in the region.
Posted 22 July 2009; 11:05:56 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 15 July 2009) -- Research suggests suicide rates among the Sami, the indigenous peoples of Norway, are lower than among other northern aboriginal groups. Anne Silviken, a psychologist with the Center for Sami Health Research in Norway, found the suicide rate among the Sami is about 19 per 100,000. By comparison, Silviken said Greenland Inuit have a rate of about 100 per 100,000. "The socio-economic status among Sami, they're not big differences between the Sami and the [general] population, so that could be one reason for the low suicide rates," Silviken said Tuesday at the International Congress on Circumpolar Health, being held in Yellowknife. "The Sami has been in an ongoing cultural revitalization process during the [past] three and four decades, so they have seen more cultural equality." Silviken said such factors mean the Sami are not as disadvantaged as some other indigenous groups around the circumpolar world. At the same time, she said, the Sami share a similar history, such as having experienced residential schools. Silviken said she hopes the health congress will help northern peoples learn from each other, as well as empower northern communities to help deal with suicide and other social problems.
Posted 15 July 2009; 9:57:41 AM. Permalink
(Christina Henriksen/Barents Indigenous People, 13 July 2009) -- Buffy Sainte-Marie is performing at Riddu Riddu this very Friday, July 17 2009. Riddu Riddu is an international indigenous peoples' festival arranged annually by the local Saami in Gáivuotna/Kåfjord, who has dreamed about having Buffy Sainte-Marie on stage since the first festival in 1991. The world-known Saami artist Mari Boine is performing on Saturday, and among the other artists at this year's festival are Adjágas (Sapmi), Namgar (Buryatia), Alit Boazu (Sápmi), Yerboli (China) and The BlackSheeps (Sápmi). The Nisga'a people visits Riddu Riddu this year, and a traditional Nisga'a long-house is built for the occasion. It will be an addition to the collection of indigenous peoples' housing, which already includes a Nenets choom and a Siberian yurta, as well as others. Saturday is dedicated to the Nisga'a people, as they are this year's people of the North. Indigenous youth gather for workshops in East Saami handicraft, Nisga'a singing and dancing, as well as South Saami yoik, and the results can be seen on the main stage on Saturday evening. Anders Sunna from Pajala is this year's young artist, and his exhibition is located to the Ája Gallery. Check out the program and further information at www.riddu.no
Posted 14 July 2009; 1:35:35 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, 15 June 2009) -- At a meeting of Nordic Prime Ministers held in Egilsstaðir, East Iceland, on 14 June, Icelandic PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir reported that the Icelandic parliament Althingi was currently dealing with a parliamentary resolution on application by Iceland for EU accession. The resolution provides for a referendum to be held on the proposed accession treaty following conclusion of accession negotiations. The PM said she hoped the resolution would be adopted and requested the support and helpful advice of Nordic EU member states during the ensuing accession process. The Nordic Prime Ministers endorsed these plans and welcomed Iceland’s move towards closer European integration. Furthermore, Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt gave an account of the principal Swedish emphases planned for Sweden’s leadership of the EU during the latter half of this year, commencing on 1 July. He confirmed that Sweden would seek to facilitate Iceland’s accession and accelerate the process to the extent possible. The Prime Ministers of Denmark and Finland also expressed their readiness to assist. PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir pointed out that the meeting of the Nordic ministers reflected the fact that European co-operation is not intended to replace Nordic co-operation. Nordic nations have a strong voice in the European Union; they stand together on matters of joint interest and policy, such as North Atlantic and circumpolar issues.
Posted 17 June 2009; 5:15:18 PM. Permalink
(Matt Walker/ Earth News, BBC News, 11 June 2009) -- Reindeer and caribou numbers are plummeting around the world. The first global review of their status has found that populations are declining almost everywhere they live, from Alaska and Canada, to Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia. The iconic deer is vital to indigenous peoples around the circumpolar north. Yet it is increasingly difficult for the deer to survive in a world warmed by climate change and altered by industrial development, say scientists. Reindeer and caribou belong to the same species, Rangifer tarandus. Caribou live in Canada, Alaska and Greenland; while reindeer live in Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Worldwide, seven sub-species are recognised. Each are genetically, morphologically and behaviourally a little different, though capable of interbreeding with one another. These differences between sub-species dictate how each is affected by human impacts. For example, it has been known for a while that populations of woodland caribou in Canada have declined as human disturbance has increased, caused by logging, oil and gas exploration, and road building, says Liv Vors of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. But then reports started coming in that the numbers of other herds were also falling. "When we discovered that many herds of reindeer also were declining we decided to compile a comprehensive survey to see if this indeed was a global pattern," says Vors. Vors and Mark Boyce at the University of Alberta contacted other researchers and scoured the published literature and government databases for all the information they could find about reindeer and caribou numbers. They compiled data on 58 major herds around the Northern Hemisphere. The scientists were shocked to discover that 34 of the herds were declining, while no data existed for 16 more. Only eight herds were increasing in number. Many herds had been declining for a decade or more. "We were surprised at the ubiquity of the decline," says Vors. ... Unless something is urgently done, all seven sub-species of Rangifer face a bleak future, says Vors. "The concern is that their habitat and the climate are changing too quickly for them to adapt." The annual treks of migratory caribou form one of the last remaining large-scale ungulate migrations in the northern hemisphere. Different sub-species also provide a cornerstone to many indigenous cultures around the circumpolar north, from subsistence hunting of caribou by Aboriginal peoples in Canada, Greenland and Alaska to reindeer husbandry by numerous cultures across Scandinavia and Siberia.
Posted 11 June 2009; 11:41:41 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 8 June 2009) -- The NATO-led air force drill Loyal Arrow started in Northern Sweden today. At the end of last week the first foreign airplanes landed, and the British aircraft carrier “HMS Illustrious” reached the Bothnia Bay. The exercise has been met with demonstrations in Sweden. 50 airplanes and 2000 persons, aircraft carrier personnel included, from ten countries will take part in what will be the biggest air force drill ever in the Finnish-Swedish Bothnia Bay. As BarentsObserver earlier reported, the F21 base outside Luleå, Northern Sweden, will serve as centre for the exercises, but air force bases in Finland and Norway will also be used. The event has been met with demonstrations in Sweden. NATO has earlier conducted navy exercises on Swedish territory, but this is the first air force drill to be held in the neutral country. An organization called “NATO out of Sweden” has been established In Luleå and has organized demonstrations againt NATO’s use of Norrbotten County as training ground, Swedish Television reports. ‘This [exercise] can be perceived as very provocative, says Anna-Karin Gudmundson from “NATO out of Sweden”. The Barents region with its proximity to the Arctic makes it a sensitive area. With all the talk about melting ice and fight over natural resources this can look like a demonstration of power from NATO’s side,’ Gudmundsons says according to Sveriges Radio. Swedish Minister of Defence Sten Tolgfors refuses that the drill is an approach to NATO: ‘This is an exercise in crisis management on a UN mandate. The aim is to train on international operations together with other nations, and has nothing to do with Swedish NATO membership,’ Tolgfors says. The main indigenous people of Northern Sweden, the Sami, are discontented with the fact that the “enemy nation” in the exercise’s scenario is called “Lapistan” and have joined the protesters against NATO in the demonstrations. The name is invented by NATO and resembles the derogatory term on Sami people, “Lapps”.
Posted 8 June 2009; 1:31:04 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 5 June 2009) -- Norway's Barents Secretariat wants to build the tallest wooden building ever constructed in the region right in the heart of downtown Kirkenes. In a news release, the Norwegian Barents Secretariat said the time was ripe to build for a physical symbol of the positive developments in Norway's arctic region. "The new Barents House must be of such significance that people would want to go there from afar to experience the house. It must be an attraction and a landmark which is beyond any other similar building. As important is the ambition of making the building a centre for knowledge development, especially about the High North and Norwegian-Russian relations, and a place for the gathering and assembly of international High North interests," said Secretary General Rune Rafaelsen at the Norwegian Barents Secretariat. The Oslo-based architectural firm Reiulf Ramstad Architects has designed the plans for the building, which would have 16 to 17 floors. "The idea is to construct a building which will be CO2-neutral, where the concept of the cycles of nature will be preserved. The innovative solutions on modern wooden constructions will stand as a token of the level of competence in the region," said architect Reiulf Ramstad The building woul go up in downtown Kirkenes, dramatically changing the city's skyline. "The new Barents House will function as a lighthouse for the development of the Barents Region and the regional border cooperation in the North," Rafaelsen said. The building's design includes a library, a theatre and a space for artists, researchers, students and other institutions, says the Barents Observer. The Norwegian Barents Secretariat, the International Barents Secretariat and the Barents Institute would also have their offices in the building.
Posted 7 June 2009; 5:23:50 PM. Permalink
(Svalbard Science Forum, 5 June 2009) -- The Norwegian Polar Institute has developed a cruise handbook for Svalbard with information about natural environment, history and cultural heritage. Now it is also available in English. The handbook provides visitors to Svalbard with quality-assured information about the natural environment, history and cultural heritage sites along the coasts of the archipelago. The handbook comprises an introductory chapter that offers an overview of the the natural environment, history, cultural heritage sites and environmental legislation of Svalbard, followed by chapters covering each of the main areas of Svalbard visited by cruise ship tourists. For the areas along the western and northern coasts of Spitsbergen, some of the most visited landing sites are described in detail, with practical advice pertaining to what visitors may experience there as well as aspects of the sites that need special consideration during visits. Go to cruise handbook: http://cruise-handbook.npolar.no/en/index.html
Posted 6 June 2009; 11:37:39 AM. Permalink
(RadioSweden, 29 May 2009) -- At seminars for reindeer-raising Sami in the northern Swedish town of Kiruna, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish participants are highly critical of what they call the lack of government-sponsored measures to deal with the psychological problems of the Sami.Statistics show a much higher suicide rate among young male reindeer-raisers compared to the local non-Sami populations in northern Lappland - explained by the growing uncertainty for the Sami because of legal conflicts with the local population over grazing and hunting rights and the loss of many reindeer to predators.
Posted 30 May 2009; 3:05:46 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 29 May 2009) -- The Progress Party, the second biggest political party in Norway, wants to abolish the Sami Parliament, pull Norway out of the ILO Convention 169 and reduce Sami land rights. No ethnic group should have exclusive land or government preferences, the party argues. In its annual assembly this week, the party adopted a controversial policy programme on Sami issues, which calls for the deprival of all exclusive land and governance rights of the indigenous Sami people. Should the Progress Party win the upcoming parliament elections and get government power, ethnic tensions in northern Norway could get serious, observers fear. The Progress Party in its programme maintains that the Sami Parliament in Norway should be abolished in its current form and that Norway should pull out of the ILO Convention 169, an agreement which grants exclusive rights to indigenous peoples. The programme also indicates that the Finnmark Authority, the Sami-dominated body in control of land management in the northernmost county of Finnmark, should be abolished. The anti-Sami policy of the right-wing party comes as tensions between Sami and non-Sami interests in northern Norway is on the increase. As BarentsObserver reported, new and stricter land claims from Sami communities stir increasing irritation among other groups in the region.
Posted 29 May 2009; 4:33:16 PM. Permalink
(Jonas Sjøkvist Karlsbakk/Norwegian Barents Secretariat, 20 May 2009) -- The BarentsIndigenous.org website will provide news and further information about the indigenous peoples of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region. Activities and projects involving indigenous peoples of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region are key items of the website, as well as promotion of the activities of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region. A Russian version will hopefully be ready soon, as the website has a particular eye on the Russian side. Information across the state borders is crucial for extended cooperation, and the Norwegian Barents Secretariat has a pronounced focus on indigenous peoples and aims for increased activity and border-crossing cooperation between the Nenets, Saami and Veps of the region. The website is administrated by the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, in cooperation with the Barents Indigenous Peoples' Office (BIPO) in Lovozero, Russian Federation.
Posted 29 May 2009; 3:09:10 PM. Permalink
(Reindeer Blog, 12 May 2009) -- Reindeer meat from Finnish Lapland is now recognized in the EU as a product with a high level of quality and as a traditional product. This means that reindeer meat from Lapland in Finland was added to the regulation of Parma ham and other similar products, among which is a protected designation of origin (PDO). The label may now be applied to reindeer meat, which is produced in the Finnish reindeer management area on reindeer born and bred in that region. The label requires that the reindeer meat is also cut, and packaged in the Finnish reindeer management area. Finnish reindeer husbandry produces 2-2,5 million kilos annually. This change in regulation may improve the marketing and sales of reindeer meat internationally and ease conditions for the production and sale of products for reindeer herders.
Posted 27 May 2009; 4:35:40 PM. Permalink
(Nordic Council News, 25 May 2009) -- Parliamentarians from Norway, Finland, Iceland, Russia and Sweden are set to attend the fourth Barents Parliamentary Conference in Syktyvkar, Russia, 26-27 May. The main themes will be indigenous peoples, the environment and the role of parliamentarians in the socio-economic development of the Barents Region. The Nordic delegation has two main priorities: ensuring that education is included as part of the EU's Northern Dimension Cultural Partnership, and that regional co-operation is seen in relation to the Northern Dimension, with the Dimension acting as an umbrella for the respective areas. In addition to the Cultural Partnership, the Northern Dimension also covers partnerships for the environment, health and social care. The Nordic Council delegation includes Vice-President Kent Olsson, Berit Brørby and Asmund Kristoffersen. The Northern Dimension addresses regional challenges in the far north, a region that includes the EEA member states Norway and Iceland, as well as Russia. The aim is to encourage closer dialogue and co-operation between the EU and its member states, as well as the EEA and Russia. The Barents Parliamentary Conference conference is an integral part of inter-parliamentary co-operation in the region.
Posted 25 May 2009; 1:58:30 PM. Permalink
(NRK via BarentsObserver, 22 May 2009) -- The population in northern Norway is on the increase. In the first three months of the year, the regional population increased with more than 500 people, which is the best result in years. In the first quarter of 2009, the population in the northermost county of Finnmark increased with 33 people. In the Troms County, the population increased with 256 and in Nordland with 271. A total of 72,525 people now live in Finnmark, while 155,809 live in Troms and 235,651 in Nordland. In Troms and Nordland, the populations increased as a consequence of both in-migration and higher birthrates. In Finnmark, there was a net out-migration, while the birth rate increased.
Posted 24 May 2009; 12:58:08 PM. Permalink
(Mia Bennett/The Arctic, World Blog Network, 23 May 2009) -- On Tuesday, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg visited Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at his residence outside Moscow. The two leaders discussed cooperation in the Arctic, mainly regarding the issue of gas. Medvedev said, “The development of the region as a whole depends on how we form a coordinated position on exploring the gas fields on the Arctic shelf. I think this is one of the most important areas of our cooperation.” The Russian president was chair of Gazprom’s board of directors until just a little over a year ago. Stoltenberg also visited Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Together, they discussed Russia’s presence in Svalbard and the gas field at Shtokman, which Putin noted was a “big bilateral project between our two countries.” Another issue discussed—but far from resolved—between Russia and Norway was the status of the “grey zone” in the Barents Sea, where both countries’ territorial claims overlap over a resource-rich area of 175,000 square kilometers. The United Nations ruled earlier this month that since both countries have legitimate claims to the area, the dispute would have to be resolved bilaterally. Norway wants the territory to be divided based on a dividing line drawn through the middle of the area, while Russia wants the division to be based on the “principal of justice,” which would entail drawing borders in respect to the western coasts of Soviet Arctic territories. Aside from these sticky disputes, Norwegian-Russia relations are generally friendly. Last year, trade between the two countries increased 45%. Stoltenberg and Norwegian Defense Minister Jonas Gahr Støre have often commented that they are not worried by Russian military development in the Arctic, saying that it is only logical. While there have been a few minor spats over Russian jet exercises outside of Norwegian airspace, tensions have never reached the level of the Canadian-Russian relationship, for example.
Posted 23 May 2009; 5:24:52 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 19 May 2009) -- Swedish Television estimates that Norrbotten, the northernmost county in Sweden, pays the European Union more than the double of what it receives back in funding and allocations. Since 1995 and throughout the program period to 2013, Norrbotten will have received approximately 4.9 billion SEK from EU. At the same time, the inhabitants in the region will pay 12.8 billion in membership fees, the Norrbotten regional branch of the Swedish Television reports. Since Sweden has paid 464 billion SEK to EU in membership fees in the period from 1995, every Swedish citizen has paid over 51,000 SEK to EU. With 250,000 inhabitants in Norrbotten, this means that the region has paid 12.8 billion SEK in membership fees to EU, which is more than the double of what the region has received in different allocations and project funding. Norrbotten County Governor Per-Ola Eriksson says EU membership is worth the money: "It gives us access to a larger area and makes us part of a larger community. When Norrbotten pays taxes to the Swedish state, we do not get back every krone. Likewise, we are not repaid money we allocate to FN and other international organizations." The question about membership fees and to what degree money is being returned to member countries’ regions can become an important issue for voters in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament June 4-7th.
Posted 19 May 2009; 12:24:25 PM. Permalink
(Itar-Tass, 19 May 2009) -- BARVIKHA - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev calls on Norway for a coordinated stand on Arctic development. At the meeting in his out-of-town residence with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Soltenberg, he noted that Russia and Norway “are northern, Arctic countries, and the development of the region as a whole depends on their taking a close, coordinated stand on matters of Arctic development. ... I believe this is one of the most important trends of cooperation,” the Russian president said. He noted that on the whole relations between Russia and Norway had been developing “quite well” of late. “There has been a substantive growth of trade turnover recently,” Medvedev added. “This year does not promise to be very easy, but our colleagues are working, and a regular session of the intergovernmental commission was held recently. I do hope that this will allow us to reach new economic milestones, despite the current economic difficulties,” the Russian president said. He noted that economic matters would be discussed during the talks. “I hope that your visit will be useful and productive; I mean a number of important documents will be signed during the visit, new results will be achieved that will strengthen friendly interaction between our countries,” Medvedev said. According to the information of the Russian side, trade turnover between Russia and Norway decreased by 36.4 percent in January-February 2009 as compared with the same period in 2008, making up 237 million dollars. Russia’s export dropped by 54 percent, making up 96 million dollars, while import decreased by 13 percent, amounting to 141 million dollars. Some 120 enterprises with the participation of Norwegian capital are registered in Russia, its volume being nearly 1.5 billion dollars. Norwegian capital is developed mainly in Russia’s north-western regions, particularly in the Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, and Leningrad regions, with industry, wholesale trade, services, telecommunications and the mass media being the priority areas.
Posted 19 May 2009; 11:58:19 AM. Permalink
(Nordlys via BarentsObserver, 18 May 2009) -- The [Norwegian] Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs will cover all expenses for removal of the wreck of the cruiser, which ended its days in the rocks outside Sørvær on the coast of Finnmark in December 1994, news paper Nordlys writes. The cruiser was being tugged southwards for scrapping when it tore away during a storm. The Norwegian company AF Gruppen Norge AS is chosen as contractor for the project, and the work will probably start this summer. The wreck has been to a lot of nuisance to the local population, and environmentalists have raised questions about environmental problems related to the wreck.
Posted 18 May 2009; 10:14:39 AM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden, 18 May 2009) -- The world's biggest polar bear zoo opens in Central Sweden on Monday. "Polar world" at the Orsa bear park in Dalarna, is spread over 40,000 square metres and with the help of Europe's top polar bear experts, recreates as much as possible the endangered species natural habitat. The aim of the project is to provide a breeding habitat for the bears. Polar bears from Germany and the Netherlands have been moved to Orsa.
Posted 18 May 2009; 10:08:11 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 15 May 2009) -- Norwegian state-owned energy grid company Statnett intends to make northern Norway its top priority region the next 15 years. New energy transmission lines will be constructed, which could open a new era of industrial opportunities in the region. Statnett, Norway’s main national grid owner and operator, today presented plans, which will make northern Norway the company’s main investment region the next 15 years. Company information director Tor Inge Akselsen confirms to NRK that wind park plans and new oil and gas projects are main reasons for the planned investments. The news about the investments come just a week after the Norwegian government approved the development plans for the Goliat oil field in the Barents Sea. As BarentsObserver reported, that field is to be developed with power from the mainland. The investments in the region have a price tag of about 8 billion NOK, Norwegian broadcaster NRK reports. Included in the plans is a new 420 KW transmission line from Balsfjord to Hammerfest and a 132 KW line from the Norwegian-Russian Pasvik border river to Varangerbotn Insufficient power transmission capacity has been the roadblock to a number of new industrial project in northern Norway, among them several wind power project along the Barents Sea. The Norwegian government represented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is the owner and ministry responsible for Statnett.
Posted 18 May 2009; 10:03:02 AM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden, 17 May 2009) -- Two earthquakes shook Malmberget, a mining town in the north of Sweden, early on Sunday morning. The first quake occurred just after 7 AM and was followed by a second quake half an hour later. Locals have reported ornaments being smashed and paintings shaken off the wall, according to local newspaper Norrländska Socialdemokraten. However, local police say that this is nothing out of the ordinary for the area. “They are used to being shaken up every now and again up there,” Olle Kvareros of the local police told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. However, all mining activity was stopped in the area following the quakes, according to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “We take this very seriously and we will analyze what has happened,” said Björn Koorem, head of mining operations at LKAB, to Aftonbladet. According to Koorem no serious damage to the mine has been detected. The Swedish mining company LKAB estimated the quakes to have reached 2.9 and 1.7 on the Richter scale.
Posted 17 May 2009; 4:57:27 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 15 May 2009) -- The European Parliament has passed a measure banning the import of all products made from seals into its 27 member countries. Special exceptions are allowed for products exported from traditional Inuit hunters in Greenland and Canada. Denmark and Canada have been leading the call against the ban on seal products, but the motion was easily passed by a large majority of the EU Parliament. This means the ban will be in effect by the end of the year. Canada and Denmark expected this result, and also knew there would be a special exception for the Inuit so that their traditional ways of life could continue in Greenland and Canada. But even with the special clause, the Copenhagen Post reports many Danish MEPs are concerned the ban will hurt the economic livelihood of villages along Greenland’s coast. “There are some settlements that consist of between 10-20 people along the northern coast who depend on seal hunting,” said Christian Rovsing, MEP for the Danish Conservative party. “How can we expect them to survive economically if we rob them of their means to do so?” Animal rights activists ran an effective, well-publicised campaign against culling seals for the market. Almost as much clamour has been made by people in Norway, Denmark, Canada and Greenland, who see the ban as an end to the seal product industries in their countries. Norway has suggested it will now take the case to the World Trade Organisation, and Canada is preparing to bring it up at a top-level meeting between its government and the EU in Prague.
Posted 15 May 2009; 1:12:08 PM. Permalink
(The Local, 13 May 2009) -- An aggressive conspiracy of ravens is wreaking havoc on farmers in central Sweden, having killed more than a dozen animals in the last 3 months. “It’s been a 20 percent loss of my production,” farmer Lennart Gunnergård told The Local. Since February, Gunnegård has had to carry the remains of 14 calves from his cattle farm in Lerdala near Skaraborg in central Sweden which has about 75 cows and an equal number of calves. Normally, Gunnegård loses a calf or two each year to the hungry ravens. “It’s natural,” he said. But this year, the area raven flock has ballooned from less than ten birds to more than 30. “It seems there are three ravens who sort of act like the ring leaders,” he said. On one occasion recently, Gunnegård noticed a small group of ravens swirling shortly after he had placed a yellow ear tag on a two-day old calf. “And just after I put in the ear tag, I looked out and saw two ravens start pecking the calf’s ear tag, while two others started going for its eyes,” he said. “I ran out and shooed them away and luckily was able to save the calf.” Gunnegård suspects the explosive growth in the size of the raven conspiracy is likely related to the recovery of the area’s convocation of Golden Eagles. “There are a lot more wild animal carcasses in the nearby forests,” he said.
Posted 13 May 2009; 11:07:54 AM. Permalink
(A. Rienstra/IceNews, 6 May 2009) -- Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store opened last week’s international conference on managing the Arctic with a plea to co-operate peacefully as the five nations that border the Arctic begin to vie for the lucrative resources that lie under the seabed. Using the catchphrase “High North, low tension”, Store was optimistic at the summit in the northern Norwegian town of Tromso. The main focus of this year’s Arctic summit was the rapid melting of the Arctic’s ice. The AFP reports that the Arctic region holds up to 30 percent of the planet’s undiscovered natural gas reserves and perhaps 13 percent of undiscovered oil reserves. These resources will finally become accessible as the Arctic ice cap melts away. The race to claim these potential riches has been accompanied by a similar increase in military activity in the region. NATO plans to play a bigger role in the region, and Russia has been increasingly vocal about its rights to deploy military units in the Arctic. Store told reporters: “We will as responsible governments and coastal states be able to manage the challenges and opportunities of this region without gliding into conflict and negative competition. We have every opportunity to prove wrong those who say that this is bound to be a regional conflict of competing interests. It need not be that way; we can do that very differently.”
Posted 6 May 2009; 10:14:24 AM. Permalink
(SR International, 4 May 2009) -- Reindeer calves could suffer severely during a planned NATO manoeuvre in North Sweden in June. Daily Östersunds-Posten reports that the indigenous people of the Sami have already complained about the military exercise being scheduled for the exact period when the reindeer are expected to calve. Now representatives of the Sami are to meet with representatives of NATO in the northern city of Kiruna in order to discuss the issue. NATO already suggested that its planes could fly at 3,000 meters height over areas where reindeer are suspected to calve. But according to the Sami it is nearly impossible to tell in advance where the reindeer herds will be. Around 50 war planes from 10 countries with a total of 2,000 soldiers are expected to participate in the NATO manoeuvre “Loyal Arrow” in northern Sweden in June.
Posted 4 May 2009; 9:51:33 AM. Permalink
(YLE, 30 April 2009) -- On Thursday, Finnish Customs said they seized around six kilogrammes of cannabis and 200 grammes of cocaine from a 60-year-old man at the Swedish-Finnish border checkpoint in Tornio. The man has been remanded in custody, and the case will now be handed to prosecutors for a consideration of formal charges. The suspect is likely to be slapped with aggravated drug crime charges. The street value of the seized drugs amounts to 75,000 euros. Officials say they believe the man was planning to travel to southern Finland with the illicit goods. The northern customs district says it investigated some 50 narcotics crimes during the first few months of the year.
Posted 1 May 2009; 10:44:38 AM. Permalink
(YLE, 27 April 2009) -- Warm weather that began last weekend has brought a massive influx of migratory birds to Finland. Swallows, traditionally considered the harbingers of summer in Finland, have been seen as far north as Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland, reports Birdlife Finland. House martins have also been spotted near the Arctic Circle. Ornithologists on bird towers have counted thousands of arriving finches, siskins and thrushes. The lucky have also observed various hawks and storks. Among the rarest sightings have been a ring-necked duck in Uusikaupunki on the west coast and a ferruginous duck in Hamina on the south-east coast. First sightings on Monday included a red knot in Pori as well as a whitethroat and a citrine wagtail in Kirkkonummi.
Posted 28 April 2009; 11:41:30 PM. Permalink
(Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada press release via Marketwire, 24 April 2009) -- OTTAWA, ONTARIO - The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, will participate in the Sixth Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting on April 29 in Tromso, Norway. "The Arctic Council meeting provides an opportunity for Canada to advance its Northern priorities and foreign policy, and to discuss with other governments the opportunities and challenges presented by a more accessible Arctic. The Council is the premier circumpolar organization for states and indigenous peoples to discuss Arctic issues of common concern. "Canada is an Arctic power. This government is engaging with our neighbours and partners through the Council to support sustainable development, environmental protection and vibrant, healthy communities in Northern Canada." Joining Minister Cannon in the Canadian delegation to Tromso will be premiers Floyd Roland of the Northwest Territories and Eva Aariak of Nunavut, and Deputy Premier Elaine Taylor of Yukon.
Posted 24 April 2009; 4:38:20 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 24 April 2009) -- MURMANSK - The captain of a Russian fishing boat died on Friday after being rescued along with the rest of his crew after their trawler sank in the Barents Sea near Norway's northern coast, Russian officials said. A Russian fishing industry official said the Koralnes, part of the Sevrybkom-1 company fleet, sank shortly after sending a distress signal at about 9:20 a.m. Moscow time (05:20 GMT). Fifteen crewmembers drifted in an inflatable raft until another Russian trawler picked them up, while two men spent sometime in the arctic water. "A Russian trawler rescued 15 Koralnes crewmembers from a raft, while a Norwegian rescue helicopter picked up the ship's captain and senior mechanic from the water," Sergei Vaganov said. Norwegian police said one of the two sailors, who were transported by a Sea Hawk helicopter to a hospital in the Norwegian city of Tromsoe, died from hypothermia. Another Russian official later confirmed that the captain of the ship had unexpectedly died in the hospital, despite arriving in a stable condition. Alexander Savelyev, a spokesman for the Russian Federal Agency for Fishery, said that in his opinion the cause of the tragedy was the poor state of the vessel, which was built in 1987, and complacency on the part of the ship's owner. "This 'second-hand'...vessel had no watertight bulkheads and it took on water within seven minutes," he said. He also said that another reason for the tragedy was the inattentiveness of the Sevrybkom-1 company to the technical state of its ships.
Posted 24 April 2009; 4:34:12 PM. Permalink
(Anita Thorolvsen Munch/Polaråret.no, 22 April 2009) -- Next week former Vice President Al Gore, foreign ministers and climate change scientists are heading for the town of Tromsø in Northern Norway to discuss the impacts of melting ice in Antarctica, the Arctic and mountain areas worldwide. On April 28. a number of foreign ministers from the Arctic Council states and several observer states are expected in Tomsø for the conference Melting Ice: Regional Dramas, Global Wake-Up Call. The event, wich will be co-hosted by former Vice President Al Gore and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, takes takes place the day before the Arctic Council's annual ministerial meeting. The parties meet to discuss the impact of melting ice in Antarctica, the Arctic and mountain areas worldwide. The Arctic is already being affected by climate change, with temperatures rising twice as fast as the global average. A changing Arctic in turn affects the global climate. ... Mr Gore and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre will make a statement on the topic addressing the need for policy responses at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year. The Arctic Council's biennial ministerial meeting, which are held back-to-back with the conference also marks the end of the Norwegian Chairmanship. Denmark is going to take over the chairmanship for the next two years. Last Ministerial Meeting was held in Salekhard, Russia, in the autumn 2006.
Posted 24 April 2009; 4:31:13 PM. Permalink
(upstreamonline, 22 April 2009) -- StatoilHydro may see its dominance eroded in Norway’s Arctic as ExxonMobil and Shell are set to bid in the country’s first frontier oil and natural gas licensing round for three years. Norway has offered 28 complete and partial blocks in the Barents Sea and 51 in the Norwegian Sea, which straddles the Arctic Circle. The permits will be awarded “sometime in the spring”, Jon Evang, an Oil Ministry spokesman, told Bloomberg, without being more specific. State-controlled StatoilHydro is the only producer in the Barents Sea, with the Snohvit gas field. It is also planning to develop the nearby Goliat oilfield with Italy’s Eni for $4 billion. ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell are among the 46 companies to request blocks, almost twice as many as in 2006. “StatoilHydro will have the most to lose,” Oswald Clint, an analyst at Sanford C Bernstein in London told Bloomber. “If it doesn’t find big enough discoveries, then they have to say: ‘Look, we have to shift focus and start exploring internationally’. In that arena they’re competing with everyone else.”
Posted 23 April 2009; 10:42:34 AM. Permalink
(IceNews, 20 April 2009) -- A new Nordic project with the lengthy title “The effects of climate change on cultural artefacts and cultural environments” is attempting to find ways to prevent impending climate change from destroying culture heritage sites in the Nordic region. Led by the Norwegian State Archives, the project will focus on vulnerable sites like Ilulissat, Greenland. As glaciers melt, temperatures increase and strong winds blow across the Nordic lands, this change in climate will dramatically impact preserved buildings, monuments and key cultural sites. Sermitsiaq reports that in Greenland the rising temperatures have already affected the permafrost in Disko Bay. “This is where we have one of our finest cultural areas, dating back over 4,000 years and with traces and evidence of the first people in Greenland,” said Anne Norgard Jorgensen, an archaeologist with Denmark’s Natural Heritage committee. “The permafrost helps to preserve these things, and if it thaws we will simply lose those parts of Greenland’s cultural heritage.” The project, whose goal is to find ways to limit the damage caused by climate change in the Nordics, was started in 2008. Research and a report of the findings should be completed by 2010, but project leaders will present the preliminary findings at a Nordic conference in Oslo this November. Jorgensen admits it’s impossible to blame climate change exclusively for the deterioration of areas of cultural value. “But we can see that the climate affects cultural heritage through, among other things, coastal erosion, storm deposits and increased humidity,” she said.
Posted 20 April 2009; 9:49:05 AM. Permalink
(IceNews, 14 April 2009) -- The Norwegian government has submitted a white paper to parliament stating that it is finally prepared to nominate Svalbard for the UNESCO World Heritage List. This designation is the highest international status a landmark can be given, and would increase the pressure within Norway to protect the pristine region. The government did not state which parts of the expansive and remote Svalbard Islands it planned to designate, but alluded to the fact that this would be determined during the nomination process, SIKUnews reports. Analysts believe they may try to nominate the area presently protected by the Svalbard Environmental Law, which was created by the Norwegian government to preserve the pristine archipelago. This area comprises 87 percent of the territorial waters and 65 percent of the landmass within the 12-nautical mile boundary currently under protection. Norway already has seven sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Svalbard has been a tentative nomination for two years already, but the government seems keen on finally pushing for its permanent protection. The application will be ready by the end of 2012, and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will consider it at their meeting in 2014.
Posted 16 April 2009; 12:43:04 AM. Permalink
(AFP, 15 April 2009) -- OSLO - Norway has won the backing of the UN in its sovereignty claim over a potentially resource rich area of seabed, including a region in the much-courted Arctic Ocean, the government said Wednesday. Based on the evidence supplied by Norway in 2006, the UN Commission for the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) approved Oslo's claim to the vast chunks of seabed in the Norwegian Sea, the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. "All that remains is to incorporate (the decision) into Norwegian law and then the extension of our continental shelf will be effective," said Rolf Einar Fife, director of legal affairs at the Norway's foreign ministry. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) stipulates that any coastal state can claim territory 200 nautical miles from their shoreline and exploit the natural resources within that zone. Nations can also extend that limit to up to 350 nautical miles from their coast if they can provide scientific proof that the undersea continental plate is a natural extension of their territory. The CLCS decision means Norway's continental shelf has been extended by 235,000 square kilometres (146,000 square miles), or "the equivalent of seven football pitches" for each Norwegian citizen out of a population of 4.8 million, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said. The decision means Norway will benefit from exploitation rights in almost two million square kilometres in the Arctic region, Fife added. However, Norway has yet to agree with Russia how to share one chunk of the Barents Sea in its newly extended continental shelf, the so-called Loophole, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas.
Posted 15 April 2009; 10:11:10 PM. Permalink
(ESA press release via ScienceDaily, 10 April 2009) -- Arctic reindeer herders are facing the challenges of adapting to climate change as a warmer Arctic climate makes it harder for herds to find food and navigate. To help them adapt, the ESA-backed Polar View initiative is providing them with satellite-based snow maps. "Snow is of paramount importance for reindeer herding because its quality determines whether reindeer are able to access the pastures that lie beneath it for much of the year," said Anders Oskal, the Director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR). "Detailed circumpolar snow information is, thus, becoming increasingly important following the recent changes in the Arctic climate." Oskal is working with Sámi reindeer herders in Finnmark, Norway, to help them maintain and develop sustainable reindeer husbandry. According to him, Finnmark is the area of Norway that is predicted to experience the largest temperature increases, raising concerns about whether ice layers will form over pastures preventing reindeer from foraging.
Posted 11 April 2009; 8:51:08 AM. Permalink
(Remarks by Secretary Clinton, Norwegian Foreign Minister Støre, 6 April 2009) -- ...The United States appreciates Norway's leadership in the Arctic Council, and it's the current chair of that council. And we certainly are grateful for the minister's contribution to the success of today's joint session of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and the Arctic Council. As Arctic members, as one of the five countries—Norway being another, Russia, Denmark, and Canada—whose landmasses all converge on the Arctic, it's important that we work together to ensure that any development in the Arctic takes into account the region's fragile ecological balance. In the months ahead as we move closer to December's UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, we will work closely with one another to ensure that that conference creates a viable framework for addressing the threat of climate change.
Posted 8 April 2009; 1:49:35 PM. Permalink
(Luna Finnsson/IceNews, 7 April 2009) -- One of Finland’s most flamboyant businessmen has revealed he plans to build an actual-sized copy of the legendary Titanic passenger ship on a piece of dry land in northern Finland. The giant ship will house a hotel and restaurants in a bid to lure more tourists to the northern areas of Finland. “Everybody in Europe knows the Titanic. There are no tourist attractions in the Oulu region and I think it could attract tourists from abroad,” Toivo Sukari told the AFP news service. Sukari operates a furniture store chain called Masku and recently built a massive shopping centre named Ideapark near Tampere in southern Finland. Sukari is now working on this new venture to build another shopping centre in the small village of Kiiminki, around 630km north of Helsinki. Although he could not tell the exact dimensions of the Titanic replica, the original was 269 metres long, 28 metres wide and 53 metres high. “It could have a hotel and a number of restaurants inside,” Sukari commented to the AFP, adding that the cost would run between 30 and 40 million euros. He plans to make the new Titanic as true to the original as possible. “I am sure Japanese tourists, who go skiing in Lapland, would be interested to see it,” he said. If everything goes to plan, construction on the ship will begin later this year and be ready for customers by November 2011.
Posted 7 April 2009; 3:45:26 PM. Permalink
(European Space Agency press release, 1 April 2009) -- Arctic reindeer herders are facing the challenges of adapting to climate change as a warmer Arctic climate makes it harder for herds to find food and navigate. To help them adapt, the ESA-backed Polar View initiative is providing them with satellite-based snow maps. "Snow is of paramount importance for reindeer herding because its quality determines whether reindeer are able to access the pastures that lie beneath it for much of the year," said Anders Oskal, the Director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR). "Detailed circumpolar snow information is, thus, becoming increasingly important following the recent changes in the Arctic climate." Oskal is working with Sámi reindeer herders in Finnmark, Norway, to help them maintain and develop sustainable reindeer husbandry. According to him, Finnmark is the area of Norway that is predicted to experience the largest temperature increases, raising concerns about whether ice layers will form over pastures preventing reindeer from foraging. For this reason, ICR partnered with Polar View to examine how satellite observations could help by gathering information on snow and snow change in a timely and accurate manner for such vast circumpolar regions. Under the Polar View initiative, Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) have been providing snow melt maps for Norway and Sweden and Eurasia snow cover maps for the last 18 months. "The experience so far has definitely been positive, and the reindeer herders are extremely interested in the future utilisation of Polar View products that can relate important information about local snow conditions," Oskal said.
Posted 1 April 2009; 8:57:05 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 9 March 2009) -- STOCKHOLM, March 9 (RIA Novosti) - Norway's police have allowed a detained Russian dry cargo ship to leave the port of Bodø in the country's north. The Russian ship, the Mekhanik Tyulenev, is suspected of involvement in the collision with a Norwegian fishing boat, the Marina. The Mekhanik Tyulenev was ordered on March 3 to dock at Bodø to investigate a possible collision with the missing fishing boat. The Marina and its 68-year-old owner went missing off northwest Norway, near the island of Anda on the Vesteralen Archipelago on March 2. Norwegian police have radar data confirming that the Russian and Norwegian vessels were "very close to each other" before the Marina disappeared from radar screens. Police said the crew of the Russian vessel, en route to the Netherlands, were "surprised but cooperative." The vessel remained in Bodø until divers examined the hull of the vessel to check for marks left by any possible collision. "An inspection of the ship indicates that no traces of a collision with the Mekhanik Tyulenev have been discovered yet," Norwegian police said, adding that the Russian vessel has not been fully cleared of suspicion but that the suspicion has grown "much weaker."
Posted 10 March 2009; 9:31:17 PM. Permalink
(ENS, 26 February 2009) -- LONGYEARBYEN, Norway - Four tons of seeds representing hundreds of crop species were delivered today to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault as it celebrated its one-year anniversary. The vault in nothern Norway is intended to serve as a fail-safe backup should the original samples be lost or damaged or to provide a Noah's ark for agriculture in the event of a global catastrophe. The seeds arriving today are from food crop collections maintained by Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, the United States, and three international agricultural research centers in Syria, Mexico and Colombia. Located near the village of Longyearbyen on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, the repository has in one year amassed a collection of more than 400,000 unique seed samples—some 200 million seeds. ... "The vault was opened last year to ensure that one day all of humanity's existing food crop varieties would be safely protected from any threat to agricultural production, natural or man made. It's amazing how far we have come toward accomplishing that goal," said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which operates the seed vault in partnership with the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center in Sweden. To mark the anniversary of the vault, experts on global warming and its effects on food production have gathered in Longyearbyen to discuss how climate change could pose a major threat to food production, and to examine crop diversity's role in averting crisis. Speakers at the seminar "Frozen seeds in a frozen mountain—feeding a warming world" include the authors of a study published last month in Science magazine warning that by the end of this century the average temperatures during growing seasons in many regions will probably be higher than the most extreme heat recorded over the last 100 years. ... The vault at Svalbard has so far received duplicates of nearly half of the crop samples maintained by the genebanks of the international agricultural research centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
Posted 27 February 2009; 12:30:54 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 21 February 2009) — Discussions over establishing a joint Nordic air patrol that would monitor the regions of the Arctic Sea where ice is disappearing are currently under consideration by the Nordic countries. As global warming causes the normally ice-choked Arctic Sea to break up, the prospect of opening shipping routes through the region is now a real possibility. Former Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg bluntly commented: “The fact is that the Arctic ice is melting”. Stoltenberg has recently published 13 proposals outlining a new era of Nordic cooperation concerning foreign and security policy. If the proposals are put in place, it would raise Nordic cooperation to new levels. One effect would be that Scandinavian fighter planes would patrol the air space over Iceland beginning in 2010. Sea surveillance and rescue operations would also be stepped up as Arctic shipping lanes become increasingly busy. In time, the entire Arctic region would be monitored by a joint Nordic satellite system. Stoltenberg’s proposals were met with general enthusiasm during their unveiling in Oslo. Although no country has made any commitment yet, the next step will be for each Nordic nation to state how they would react “if some Nordic country were to be the target of an external attack or improper pressure.” Even if defence cooperation between the Nordic nations is increased, it would not amount to a formal military alliance. Each country now has until May to evaluate the proposals, at which time official positions will be presented.
Posted 21 February 2009; 6:20:25 PM. Permalink
(YLE, 19 February 2009) -- Psychoses appear in Finland along strong regional boundaries, according to a new Finnish study. People in northern Finland are much more prone to psychoses than elsewhere in the country. In northern Finland, 4.6 percent of the population has experienced psychotic episodes at some point in their lives. The lowest rate was found in south-western areas, where psychoses affected only 2.2 percent. Researchers believe that the regional differences can, in part, be explained by conditions in early childhood. Northern Finland has a higher instance of infections during pregnancy, birthing complications, and other early development risk factors—all of which are also factors in developing schizophrenia. The study was co-ordinated by the National Institute of Health and Welfare and published in Schizophrenia Research magazine. In contrast to the data on schizophrenia, affective disorders (like bi-polar disorders) and depression-related psychosis did not appear to have any regional correlation.
Posted 19 February 2009; 9:58:29 AM. Permalink
(New Europe, 16 February 2009) -- Nordic foreign ministers welcomed a report on February 9 recommending increased cooperation in defence and foreign policy matters—including in the mineralrich Arctic. “We face new threats,” former Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg said at a news conference in Oslo attended by the five foreign ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Stoltenberg, commissioned last year to write the 36-page report, specified the melting Arctic ice cap and the booming cost of defence technology as areas where closer regional cooperation was needed. The affects of the predicted melting of the Arctic polar cap due to climate change is likely to result in new shipping routes and thus open up new areas for exploration for oil, gas and other minerals. More shipping could also increase the risk for accidents, generating the need for better search-and-rescue capabilities, the report said. Stoltenberg underlined that the five Nordic states have different security and political arrangements. Finland and Sweden, for instance, are members of the European Union, but not members of NATO like Denmark, Iceland and Norway, while Iceland and Norway are not members of the EU. Among the 13 proposals put forward was that Nordic countries should consider patrolling the airspace of Iceland and develop joint surveillance of the seas adjacent to the Nordic region such as the Baltic Sea and north Atlantic to monitor oil spills, for example. In 2006, the US permanent military presence in the North Atlantic nation ceased after 45 years and NATO members subsequently agreed to patrol Iceland’s airspace at regular intervals.
Posted 17 February 2009; 2:15:43 PM. Permalink
(AFP, 16 February 2009) -- CHICAGO — The stores of seeds in a "doomsday" vault in the Norwegian Arctic are growing as researchers rush to preserve 100,000 crop varieties from potential extinction. The imperiled seeds are going to be critical for protecting the global food supply against devastating crop losses as a result of climate change, said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. "These resources stand between us and catastrophic starvation," Fowler said. "You can't imagine a solution to climate change without crop diversity." That's because the crops currently being used by farmers will not be able to evolve quickly enough on their own to adjust to predicted drought, rising temperatures and new pests and diseases, he said. One recent study found that corn yields in Africa will fall by 30 percent by 2030 unless heat-resistant varieties are developed, Fowler noted. "Evolution is in our control," he said in an interview. "It's in our seed bank. You take traits form different varieties and make new ones." That process currently takes about 10 years. But Fowler said his organization is hoping to speed up the development of new varieties by cataloguing the genetic traits of the seeds that it stores. Their gene bank—dug into a mountainside near Longyearbyen, in the Svalbard islands in the far north of Norway—will be made public to help spur research, which Fowler says is woefully inadequate. "Six people in the world are breeding bananas. Ditto for yams, a major crop in Africa," Fowler said ahead of a presentation Sunday to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Posted 17 February 2009; 2:02:31 PM. Permalink
(APF, 12 February 2009) -- KIRUNA, Sweden (AFP) — Far from the idyllic image of lone herders skiing after their reindeer, indigenous Samis in Sweden's far north today use snowmobiles and other vehicles, giving rise to an animal welfare campaign as far away as Britain. "Everything progresses in this world. We have to hang on and follow the development," says Jaavna Allas, a 30-year-old Sami reindeer herder with cheeks glowing red after a day out following his flock near Kiruna, some 145 kilometres (90 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. He and other herders here who have spent their careers chasing flocks of the graceful creatures with their towering antlers and bushy white tails across the wind-swept plains of the Swedish Lappland insist snowmobiles, motorbikes and even helicopters have become necessary tools of their trade. "It wouldn't be possible to herd reindeer today on skis. The grazing areas are so few and far between," Allas says, pointing out that the forestry industry has laid waste to many of the traditional grazing grounds, while a sharp increase in winter tourism in northern Sweden has also lengthened transit routes. The modern herding methods, which have in fact been in use for decades, have however drawn the ire of vegetarian animal welfare group Viva, which launched a pre-Christmas campaign against Swedish furniture giant Ikea over its sale of meat from Santa's helpers in its stores in Britain. "We suddenly realised there was a movement in the UK with more people eating reindeer for Christmas ... as an ironic holiday dish," Viva spokesman Justin Kerswell told AFP in a telephone interview from London.
Posted 13 February 2009; 8:13:18 AM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 7 February 2009) -- The failure to provide basic services in Saami has resulted in the imposition of a conditional fine by Finland's National Discrimination Tribunal. The 5,000-euro fine is the first of its kind to be handed down. At the heart of the dispute is the provision of day care services in the Saami language in the northern municipality of Enontekiö. Minority Ombusdman Johanna Suurpää slapped the conditional fine on the municipality for neglecting to provide the contested service, YLE reports. The fine was imposed when the town of Kilpisjärvi failed to hire a care provider for the village’s only Saami child. “The Child Day Care Act calls on municipalities throughout the country to provide child care services in Finnish, Swedish and Saami,” Suurpää said. Pentti Keskitalo, head of the Enontekiö municipality said that several attempts to find a Saami care provider in Kilpisjärvi were unsuccessful. “Kilpisjärvi is so far from other villages that no one wants to work there,” Keskitalo explained. The case is now before the Administrative Court. Finland observed Saami National Day on Friday.
Posted 9 February 2009; 12:13:43 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 9 February 2009) -- The five Nordic countries should strengthen security cooperation in the Arctic, former Norwegian foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg concludes in his report on Nordic defence cooperation handed over to the countries’ foreign ministers today. With a frontpage design displaying a map of the great waters of the North Atlantic and the Arctic, there is hardly any doubt that the report on Nordic defence cooperation includes a high focus on marine issues, as well as a view towards Arctic challenges. Although touching on a range of issues and 13 fields of potential cooperation, the report does have the Arctic as a key focus. “It is widely believed that the Nordic area will have an increasing geopolitical and strategic importance, following the Nordic waters' role as production and transit area for oil and gas to the European markets and the development of the Arctic”, the report reads. “With climate change and ice melting, these [Arctic] waters are opened for considerably activities, including new shipping routes […] This makes it interesting with Nordic cooperation in the sea areas and the Arctic”, it continues. The report is edited by former Norwegian foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg, who in June 2008 was commissioned by the five countries' governments to elaborate on the issue. A group of ten experts from all the countries have since assisted Mr. Stoltenberg with the report.
Posted 9 February 2009; 11:34:02 AM. Permalink
(AP via Taiwan Times, 4 February 2009) -- Rescuers say a small helicopter crashed in the Norwegian Arctic and one person on board was killed. Norway's Rescue Coordination Center says a second person suffered minor injuries when the Eurocopter AS350 went down in heavy snow showers near the Swedish border. Recuse leader Anne Holm Gundersen says it is unclear why the aircraft crashed Wednesday during a flight from its base in the northern town of Harstad to Alta. Only two people were on board the five-passenger craft owned by Harstad company HeliTeam. The company said both were Norwegian but did not identify them by name.
Posted 6 February 2009; 10:40:01 AM. Permalink
(Formula 1, 26 January 2009) -- Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen swapped tarmac for snow at the weekend as he made his debut in the punishing Arctic Lapland Rally. Fellow Finns Mika Hakkinen and Mika Salo were among the other Formula One names taking part. Raikkonen looked very much at home in the freezing conditions. Along with co-driver Kaj Lindstrom, he steered his Fiat Grande Punto S2000 to 13th place overall, finishing the three-day event in a total time of 2h, 7m, 48s, less than 10 minutes down on winner Juha Salo. Hakkinen was not far behind. The former double world champion, at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, came home 19th in what was his fourth appearance in the rally. Salo was less fortunate, retiring his similar Mitsubishi with technical problems.
Posted 26 January 2009; 2:18:00 PM. Permalink
(SR, 9 January 2009) -- There was a big increase in the number of drug seizures made by Swedish customs last year. In figures released on Thursday, customs officers declared that 2008 saw a big jump in the number of prescription drugs recovered sent by mail, from 241,000 tablets in 2007 to 849,000 last year. Most of the tablets were ordered via the internet, by men between the ages of 18 and 30, mostly living in Norrland, the north of Sweden.
Posted 11 January 2009; 7:25:21 PM. Permalink
(Formula 1, 9 January 2009) -- Former world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Mika Hakkinen are no strangers to the pressures of Formula One racing, but the Finnish pair are preparing to sample a different motorsport challenge later this month, after agreeing to compete in this year's arduous Arctic Lapland Rally. For Ferrari driver Raikkonen this year's rally will be his first and for his debut the 29 year-old will race a Fiat Abarth Grande Punto S2000, alongside co-driver Kaj Lindstrom. Hakkinen, who contested the rally in 2003, 2004 and 2006, will be at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9, together with Ilkka Kivimaki. This year's staging of the annual event, which sees top drivers tackle freezing weather conditions as they race around Northern Finland in the heart of the Arctic Circle, will take place from January 22-24. Previous winners include former world rally champions Marcus Gronholm, Tommi Makinen and Hannu Mikkola.
Posted 11 January 2009; 4:56:26 PM. Permalink
(Helisgen Sanomat via Siku Circumpolar News, 8 December 2008) -- The supply of food for Finnish Lapland has become almost completely dependent on long-distance transport, because there is hardly food processing in the sparsely populated region, with the most northerly dairy located in Oulu, the Helsingin Sanomat reports. With Christmas coming, more than a million kilos of food is transported into Lapland from other parts of Finland every day. Even waste transport is dependent on long-distance transport, resulting in a large consumption of diesel fuel. More than 50 trucks a day take food from Oulu to different parts of Finnish Lapland. In addition to the dairy product company Valio, there are trucks from all of the big retail chains, as well as transport companies, bakeries, and breweries. During the busy periods, about 100 trucks will drive in and out of the Valio premises in Oulu, either delivering goods from the South, or taking them north. Retail grocery stores also sort and transport food to shops in Finnish Lapland from their own terminals in Oulu. Milk from farms in Lapland is transported south from Utsjoki all the way to Oulu where it is processed, packaged and sent back to Lapland. Also, cattle from the North are brought to Nurmo in South Ostrobothnia for slaughter and processing into steaks, sausage, and ground beef, which is sent back north. Poultry eaten in Finnish Lapland comes from Valkeakoski, and yogurt comes from Jyväskylä and Hyvinkää.
Posted 26 December 2008; 4:40:40 PM. Permalink
(Svalbardposten via The Norway Post) The nature reserve around the Norwegian Bear Island (Bjørnoya) in the Barents Sea will be expanded, as a measure to help preserve the environment in the Barents Sea and around Svalbard. This was announced by the Norwegian government this week. Until now, the nature reserve around the Bear Island has extended four nautical miles off the coast of the Island. In future the border line will be drawn 12 nautical miles off the coastline. The nature reserve will now include 177 square kilometres on the island itself and 2805 square kilometres of ocean. The Bear Island is a main habitat for seabirds in the Barents Sea, and the island has one of Europe's largest colonies of breeding guillemot, and is vulnerable to climate changes.
Posted 18 December 2008; 10:51:48 AM. Permalink
(NRK via The Norway Post, 27 November 2008) -- An initiative by the shipping industry to establish a new Norwegian Centre for High North Logistics to be located at Kirkenes, was presented Wednesday. This will be a centre of expertise for the development of sustainable solutions for transport and logistics in the High North. "Knowledge of maritime transport and logistics is the key to value creation in the High North. Now we will have the opportunity to be a frontrunner internationally,â€ť said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere at the presentation. The initiative for the Centre, including its endowed professorship scheme, was taken by the shipping industry, with Tschudi Shipping in the lead. Tschudi Shipping will provide NOK 6 million in funding for the Centre over a five-year period. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will match this sum, through its Barents 2020 programme. The Norwegian Shipowners Association, the High North Centre for Business and Governance at Bodoe University College and the Norwegian School of Management are also contributing to the project, which will also seek Russian partners in the long term. "This is a new and exciting form of collaboration, which will raise the level of knowledge about an area that is of great strategic importance to the High North. Companies, authorities and expert groups are showing willingness to cooperate so that greater knowledge can result in increased value creation. The melting of ice in the Arctic is opening up new transport routes. Ensuring good, safe solutions for transportation is crucial if we are to take advantage of these opportunities," Mr Stoere emphasised. “I have high expectations of the contribution the endowed professorship and the Centre will be able to make to developing knowledge about—and solutions for—transport and logistics in the High North,” the Norwegian Foreign Minister said.
Posted 1 December 2008; 12:20:22 AM. Permalink
(NRK via BarentsObserver, 25 November 2008) -- The Norwegian governor of the Svalbard Archipelago today said that Russian activities at the archipelago will be subjected to new restrictions, NRK reports. Several more Norwegian laws now apply also for Russian activities at the archipelago, Governor Per Sefland said in a public meeting today. The governor signaled that Norwegian authorities will tighten their grip over the Russian population at the far northern islands, Norwegian broadcaster NRK reports. "From now on, the control of the Russian activities will be far stricter than before," Mr. Sefland said.About 500 Russians and Ukrainians now live and work in the settlement of Barentsburg. The Norwegian authorities on the islands are based in the nearby town of Longyearbyen. Norway has sovereignty over the Svalbard Archipelago in line with Paris Treaty of 1920. However, also the other signatory countries are entitled to engage in industrial activities in the area, but then only in accordance with Norwegian law.
Posted 27 November 2008; 8:07:04 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 25 November 2008) -- "A strengthened EU engagement in the Arctic is in the interests of Norway," Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said today. He believes Norway has good reason to be pleased with the EU Commission's new Arctic Communication. In a conference in Tromsø, Norway, today, the Norwegian foreign minister welcomed the enhanced EU focus on Arctic issues, NTB reports for newspaper Aftenbladet. He believes many Norwegian positions are reflected in the new EU paper. Over the last years, Norway has initiated several High North dialogues with EU structures and key EU member states. We want stable and good conditions in the North, where the engaged countries follow their own interests and operate in a political cooperation-oriented way," he told NTB. In his presentation made in today's round table conference in the Tromsø University, the foreign minister also said that he is not concerned about the EU Parliament's signaled interest in a treaty for the Arctic, similar the Antarctica Treaty. The EU Commission has been clear that it does not want any Arctic Treaty.
Posted 25 November 2008; 3:53:39 PM. Permalink
(Nordic Council News, 25 November 2008) -- The EU Commission published a report last week on the relationship between the Union and the Arctic Region. The 'Common Concern for the Arctic'' conference hosted by the Nordic Council of Ministers in Ilulissat in September helped place the Arctic firmly on the Union's agenda. A number of EU politicians, including the Fisheries Commissioner, Joe Borg, and the Vice President of the European Parliament, Diana Wallis, attended the conference, which has helped shape EU policy on the subject. EU policy in areas like climate change, the environment, energy, research, fisheries and transport often has a direct impact on the Arctic. Presenting the report, Borg pointed out how important it is for the Union to turn its attention northwards and highlighted the opportunities for increased economic activity, as well as the urgent environmental challenges that need to be faced in the region. "The combination of climate change and the latest technology means that new opportunities as well as new challenges are faced. We need to co-ordinate our efforts. We cannot remain passive in the face of the alarming damage to the Arctic climate, which has a knock-on effect on the rest of our planet," the Commissioner said.
Posted 25 November 2008; 3:51:46 PM. Permalink