Does Pastoralists' participation in the management of national parks in northern Norway contribute to adaptive governance?

Camilla Risvoll, Gunn Elin Fedreheim, Audun Sandberg, Shauna BurnSilver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Norwegian protected areas have historically been managed by central, expertise bureaucracy; however, a governance change in 2010 decentralized and delegated the right to manage protected areas to locally elected politicians and elected Sámi representatives in newly established National Park Boards. We explore how this new governance change affects adaptive capacity within the reindeer industry, as the reindeer herders are now participating with other users in decision-making processes related to large tracts of protected areas in which they have pasture access. Aspects within adaptive capacity and resilience thinking are useful as complementary dimensions to a social-ecological system framework (Ostrom 2007) in exploring the dynamics of complex adaptive social-ecological systems. The National Park Board provides a novel example of adaptive governance that can foster resilient livelihoods for various groups of actors that depend on protected areas. Data for this paper were gathered primarily through observation in National Park Board meetings, focus groups, and qualitative interviews with reindeer herders and other key stakeholders. We have identified certain aspects of the national park governance that may serve as sources of resilience and adaptive capacity for the natural system and pastoral people that rely on using these areas. The regional National Park Board is as such a critical mechanism that provides an action arena for participation and conflict resolution. However, desired outcomes such as coproduction of knowledge, social learning, and increased adaptive capacity within reindeer husbandry have not been actualized at this time. The challenge with limited scope of action in the National Park Board and a mismatch between what is important for the herders and what is addressed in the National Park Board become important for the success of this management model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number71
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


  • Adaptive capacity
  • Decentralization
  • National park governance
  • Participation
  • Pastoralists
  • Protected areas
  • Reindeer herding
  • SES framework
  • Social-ecological systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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