Tero Mustonen, Snowchange Cooperative, Finland
1st December 2014
As recently reported in the UK media, such as in the Guardian the European North is witnessing, much like other peripheries of the world, an onslaught of mining activities which threaten whole catchment areas, local and Indigenous communities and fragile Arctic ecosystems.
The Snowchange Cooperative representing a large coalition of local and Indigenous communities of the North, is engaged in various processes to resist this tsunami of international mining activities.
To name two examples, a very disturbing turn of events took place in Spring 2014 when the TUKES national mining authority licensed exploration of diamonds inside a IUCN strict protected area “Kevo”. Kevo is situated high above the Arctic Circle, at 69th latitute, in top of Finland in the municipality of Utsjoki. The permit was given to Karelian Diamond Company, out of Ireland.
Kevo is home to ancestral Sámi Indigenous people, which utilize the Kevo Strict Nature Preserve for cultural, traditional economic and subsistence purposes. Kevo territory is home of the reindeer pastures of the Paistunturi reindeer cooperative. There are also Red Book –listed plants and animals within the area as well as Sámi sacred and cultural sites. Snowchange Cooperative works closely with the Sámi involved in resisting the mining plans. We will inform the “Yes to Life, No to Mining” Campaign as the situation unfolds in Utsjoki and Kevo.
Snowchange has been involved also in some of the early victories of this new century in anti-mining activities. The Selkie village, considered to be a national landscape of Finland, located in the boreal zone of North Karelia, Finland is home to rich uranium deposits. Between 2005-2013 various international companies have tried to open mines in the region. Most recently the Euro-Scandinavian Uranium Company tried to open such mine in the Riutta area. Building on years of local Peoples Movement work, Snowchange coordinated the international campaign component of the resistance, and in October 2012 all of our villages, fisheries and people rejoiced as the company pulled out. Read more about this success here.
The Snowchange Cooperative continues to resist extractive activities in the boreal and Arctic North, and welcomes the partnership with the Yes to Life, No to Mining Campaign.
Snowchange is also working with local and Indigenous communities in the European North to prevent serious ecological and social damage from other extractive industries, such as logging. One major current concern is the threat of logging in the Ostola lot of Havukkavaara forest by state enterprise Metsahallitus. Metsahallitus has already logged large tracts of the boreal forest.
Led by Snowchange a growing global network of governmental agencies, scientists, Indigenous and local communities and their organisations is coming together to voice their concerns over the forest’s future. Ostola is world renowned for its biodiversity and also plays a vital role in the lives of the community of Selkie Village. Ostola is part of the village’s ancestral territory. The Selkie community hunt and gather food and medicines in the forest and the area is the home of Kalevala-style epic poems which encode the oral histories, cultures and traditions of the Finns and Karelians.
Search the ‘Snowchange’ tag to read more about and follow the work of Snowchange and their Indigenous allies as stories unfold.