Harava as an Inventory Tool for Reindeer Husbandry in Lapland

A flexible survey software morphed easily into a powerful inventory management tool when building a centralized GIS database on reindeer husbandry. Harava enabled the collection of diverse spatial data and combining it with the existing data resources to create a single database.


Reindeer herding is an essential part of the local economies in Lapland and a traditional and unique part of the Sámi culture. Reindeers are semi-domesticated animals and graze over wide areas throughout the year following their natural rhythm which is often called the herding cycle. Because reindeer husbandry is a very land-intensive industry, it often faces land use challenges with other industries, such as forestry, mining, power production, and tourism. The increasing use of land by commercial and industrial activities and the expanding infrastructure in Lapland are affecting reindeer herding communities and pastures. To preserve favorable conditions for all the actors in the region, information about the use of land for reindeer husbandry must be available to enable better planning.


The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) inaugurated a GIS project called POROT (Reindeers in Finnish) together with the Finnish Environment Institute and Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute. Other parties involved in the cooperation were the Finnish Forest Research Institute, Regional Council of Lapland, Lapland ELY-Centre, Reindeer Herders´ Association, and National Forest Board. The purpose of the project was to create a cooperative network between the reindeer herders and land use planning authorities in the North. As a result of the cooperation, a centralized database on reindeer husbandry was established to support the land use and planning procedures. The project included 27 reindeer herding cooperatives in Eastern Lapland and the Rovaniemi region.

The role of Harava in the POROT project was to enable the collection of spatial data about the reindeer pastures as well as buildings and structures used in reindeer herding. Harava was chosen as the inventory tool because it is a flexible e-service capable of saving data in many formats. For example, in reindeer husbandry it is important to know the reindeer-herding cycles and directions. The line, dot, and other drawing tools included in Harava made it easy to illustrate the grazing and round-up enclosure areas as well as the routes of travel on the map and, thereby, locate the most essential pastures used during each season. In addition, there were functional additions made to Harava that enabled importing data from external sources and continuously updating and editing the stored data. Further advantages of Harava as an inventory tool included the ability to export data into other GIS databases.


The data collection process with Harava was organized according to the reindeer herding cooperatives. Each cooperative had their own Harava inquiry and the Chiefs of District responsible for administration could save the essential data from their districts into Harava. Although the project POROT has been completed, Harava is still used for collecting and updating information about the reindeer pastures and reindeer herding structures for current and future needs.