Finland: Defying human rights opposition gov to clear indigenous reindeer herders forest

Metsähallitus notified the Muotkatunturi Reindeer Herding Co-operative
in the autumn of its intention to pursue logging and clearing
operations in the Pyhäjärvi area, which has already been the subject
of legal proceedings going all the way to the UN Human Rights
Committee. A further announcement was made in January that logging
would begin in the Tirro area during the very same month.

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The decision of the Human Rights Committee for the Pyhäjärvi area was
that if logging were to continue beyond the plans outlined at the
time, then the harm that this causes to winter pastures could
constitute an infringement of the human rights of Sámi reindeer
herders. The Paatsjoki Reindeer Herding Co-operative only learned of
the winter road building and logging plans of Metsähallitus by chance
when its Chairman came across a Metsähallitus planning officer inside
the committee’s feeding fence.

Even though Metsähallitus has a statutory duty to avoid causing substantial harm to reindeer husbandry, the planning officer reported that the ongoing reindeer husbandry work would have no impact on the activities and timetables of Metsähallitus.

A winter road and logging operations inside the feeding fence would render the entire fencing system unserviceable. At the beginning of January the Chairman of the Reindeer Herding Co-operative was notified by telephone that logging would begin in various areas, in important woodland pastures demarcated by the Reindeer Herding Co-operative, in the famous old-growth forests of Kessi, and right up to the boundary of the wilderness reserve.

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