The future looks complicated for the Sami people. These are the descendants of reindeer herders in the far north of Finland, Sweden and Norway. Until now, their traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. But things are changing, and their habitat is being used more and more often for other purposes, such as the huge Markbygden wind farm. The result is a clash of interests between tradition and change. Watch a report by “Focus Europa”, a Digi24 and Deutsche Welle project. The show is broadcast on Friday at 23:30 and resumes on Saturday at 19:30.

It is autumn on the high plateau of Ammarnäs and the first frost is approaching. It’s time for the shepherds to take their reindeer to the valley. They ate well in their months of freedom. Every autumn – as here in Västerbotten – the Sami people inspect the herds, counting the newborns and selecting the animals. As usual, rthey run from left to right. But otherwise, things are different.

Malin Brännström is part of the younger generation. He knows that such episodes will soon become history, because in the wilderness of Lapland, land areas are becoming rarer.

Reindeer sacrificed to make room for wind turbines

It’s getting crowded here. Soon, reindeer herding will no longer be possible. There are simply too many parties involved. It’s almost impossible nowadays, “says Malin Brännström.

The idea is to keep the males alive for only half a year, keeping a few for breeding. The state is constantly limiting the size of the herds, so members of the Svaipa Gran community must kill more reindeer than they would like. Everything is needed more land for roads and wind farms.

“It’s hard to imagine that these huge wind farms could be compatible with our reindeer herds. It’s a large-scale industry, and our space is shrinking considerably, “says Malin Brännström.

On the way to the coast, 230 kilometers to the east, we meet several reindeer, a common sight during autumn.

An unparalleled wind farm in Europe

Markbygden is a wind farm unmatched in Europe. It is twice as large as Stockholm and supplies 8% of Sweden’s electricity. The goal is to build 1,011 wind turbines. Those of the people Sami are afraid that even bigger wind farms will follow.

When I got the permit for Markbygden years ago, the 200-meter turbines seemed very high, but now we’re talking about heights of over 250 meters, ”he says. Fredrik Bäcklund, representative of the wind farm.

The goal is to create 300-meter turbines, almost as tall as the Eiffel Tower. The wind is best at that altitude. At ground level it is surprisingly low noise, so the animals are not disturbed. The wind farm’s press officer was amazed when he recently stopped at the base of a turbine with a group of visitors.

“I saw 20 reindeer sleeping under a rotor. In general, wild animals like to sit under wind turbines, because there are fewer insects, especially mosquitoes. ” says Tomas Riklund, the wind farm press officer.

Compensation for reindeer herders

So far, only about a third of the turbines have been installed. Building a large wind farm involves transporting thousands of heavy loads and leaving less room for reindeer. In the spring, when calves are born, the last thing animals want is noise and crowds.

There are two phases. The first is heavy traffic with heavy cars. NIt is easy for the animals to stay here, but later, during the operation phase, it is okay for them “, he claims. Fredrik Bäcklund, representative of the wind farm.

Ten years ago, local pastors received compensation. All parties agreed not to disclose the amount.

New threats on the horizon: warmer winters

Back to Ammarnäs: it’s evening and the farmers are still gathering the flocks. Malin is trying her best to enjoy the moment with her family. The lawyer had important lawsuits for the property rights of this community and won. But she feels helpless against another threat: climate change and warmer winters.

“Winter is the biggest challenge. First we have a lot of snow and then a lot of freezing rain. Because of this, reindeer can no longer reach lichens, their food source “, explains Malin Brännström.

The people of the Sami people are in a dilemma. Home helps slow down global warming – which they did not cause – must sacrifice pastures. They say everyone should make some concessions.

We all need to return to the important things, to what nature offers us. We need to be aware of that instead of robbing it. ” spune Malin Brännström.

If farmers could no longer keep their reindeer, a symbol of traditional freedom and an old culture would disappear. Instead, only the plains full of wind turbines would remain. The population Sami fears that Lapland will become just another industrial park.

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