The reindeer herding area consists of the northernmost areas of Finland and reindeer herding had maintained its position well in Lapland. In Finland nowadays there are about 203 700 reindeer. There around 7,000 reindeer owners and annually some two million kilos of reindeer meat come on to the market.
Reindeer husbandry is defined in reindeer husbandry legislation, which was passed for the first time in 1932. The current Reindeer Husbandry Act dates from 1990. Under the law, reindeer can be owned only by EU citizens and reindeer owners¿ associations residing permanently in the reindeer husbandry area.
The reindeer husbandry area is divided into 57 reindeer owners¿ associations, which operate as the administrative and functional units for reindeer husbandry.Reindeer owners belong to reindeer herding associations and the National Federation of Reindeer Herding Associations acts as their joint body. Control is exercised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which stipulates the maximum permitted number of reindeer. The decisions are based on what the reindeer grazing areas can tolerate.
Reindeers can consume many natural plants ranging from twigs to moss and lichen. Reindeers exert a significant influence on nature and they graze freely also in nature protection areas.
The reindeer husbandry area covers around 114,000 square kilometres, around one third of the entire area of Finland. Weather conditions, particularly the winter snows have a decisive impact on reindeers¿ well-being. The snowmobile has revolutionised reindeer husbandry methods. Reindeers are no longer tended in winter time as
they once were; they are gathered together from extensive areas for sorting and then allowed once more to graze freely. Winter feeding has become more the rule than the exception also in fell areas, although natural grazing still has an important role to play in reindeer husbandry.
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