The key objectives of the Nomadic Herders project are to increase the understanding of how changes in biodiversity are affecting reindeer herding societies, and enhance the capacity of the herders in biodiversity conservation and natural resource.
Reindeer husbandry – like many other pastoral livelihoods – is affected by climate change, land degradation and changes in biodiversity. The pastoral economies and cultures, and the ecosystems on which they depend, are stressed by land degradation and loss of biodiversity due to increased infrastructure development, resource exploitation and other forms of human activities that create barriers to livestock mobility and pasture use.
Focusing on taiga reindeer herding communities in sub-Arctic Asia, the Nomadic Herders initiative addresses traditional knowledge, adaptation to climate change and protection of the environment. The initiative came from world reindeer herders themselves, following up the 4th Congress of the World Reindeer Herders in 2009. It started in 2010 with funding from Norway and has become a UN Environment/Arctic Council internationally coordinated indigenous peoples’ project in Sakha-Yakutia, Eastern Siberia, and northern Mongolia.
The project provides a unique example of how UN Environment and the Arctic Council engages to support both environmental issues and indigenous peoples at the community level. Nomadic Herders was endorsed by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) at its 9th Session in New York in 2010.
The Nomadic Herders project is one of the very few Arctic Council endorsed projects run by Observers (UNEP and WRH), and led by indigenous peoples. The initiative has linkages to Sámi reindeer herding and institutions in Fennoscandia, and one aim is to replicate the project in other reindeer herding communities in the North.