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Image: Mostphotos/Britt-Marie Sohlström

Collaboration for conservation in Sápmi

Research project Recent decades have seen an increased focus on collaborative arrangements for the governance and management of natural resources, and collaboration is often presented as a vehicle to reach a number of goals – including local stewardship and the recognition and promotion of Indigenous peoples’ rights.

The purpose of this project is to analyze the governance and management of landscapes for environmental protection on the Swedish side of Sápmi, with a particular focus on the organization and implementation of collaborative arrangements. The project aims to investigate relationships of power and conditions for agency in governance and management arrangements where power and responsibility is shared between the government and local Sámi resource users, or that include elements of local Sámi participation, influence, or control.

Head of project

Elsa Reimerson
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2020-01-01 2024-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Political Science

Research area

Political science

External funding


Project description

Across the world, there is considerable geographical overlap between areas set aside for nature conservation and Indigenous peoples’ lands, and the social, economic, and political consequences of protected areas have often been extensive for Indigenous peoples. Shifts in dominating discourses of conservation and of Indigenous peoples have opened up new opportunities for Indigenous peoples in relation to protected areas on their lands, not least through different forms of shared or collaborative governance and management arrangements, but collaborative conservation governance and management arrangements do not always deliver the positive social outcomes expected.

In Sweden, environmental governance and management has historically been largely centralized, with low levels of local influence and control. Although a large proportion of the areas set aside for environmental protection in Sweden have been established in Sápmi, there are no specific mechanisms for ensuring Sámi influence in the governance and management of protected areas. However, recent events and ongoing processes indicate a potential change in both discourse and policy practice. In line with global trends, Sweden’s environmental policies are moving towards collaborative models as the preferred arrangement for natural resource management.

In light of the global shifts in conservation discourses, with consideration of the potentials and pitfalls of collaborative arrangements, and with critical attention to the power relations at play, this project asks: how can we understand the ongoing processes on the Swedish side of Sápmi?

External funding

Latest update: 2020-11-17