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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 388-406

Environmental Conservation and Local Interests in Finnish Lapland

Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom.

Correspondence Address:
Nuccio Mazzullo
Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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In this paper I consider the historical development that marked the beginning of Finnish environmental policies in the mid-nineteenth century that resulted in the foundation of the first national parks in the north of Finland and in some important laws, passed by the Finnish government, aimed at rationalising felling strategies. After the Second World War, compel­ling financial needs and increased modernisation led to a further intensifica­tion of forest felling and to the appearance of the first forms of resistance to government forestry policies and to the formation of an environmental con­servation movement. With the Finnish membership to the European Union in 1995, and with the consequent impact of European environmental policies on the Finnish ones, the environmental conservation debate reached a new level that is epitomised by the controversy currently surrounding the European en­vironmental protection project 'Natura 2000'. With particular reference to Finnish Lapland, the enforcement of already existing environmental protec­tion measures by the European Ministry of Environment rekindled a contro­versy that highlighted the diversity of impact that these measures had on the variegated ethno-social landscape of the Municipality of Inari. Sdmi and Finnish people, along with environmental and government agencies, environmentalists and economists, could in theory share a similar aim: namely, the sustainable growth that would guarantee the continuity of the bio-cultural diversity of this region. I have argued that the position people take in relation to environ­mental protection cannot simply be predicted or deduced on the basis of any single variable, be it ethnic affiliation, social status, livelihood, or whatever. For this reason, following the claims made by those who are at the receiving end of policies, it is suggested that the implementation of successful environmental policies can be achieved only through democratic practices that allow the full participation in decision-making processes of representa­tives of all parties involved.

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