Laponian Area
Laponian Area
Mixed Sweden Europe And North America County Of Norrbotten. Municipalities –Rural Districts –Gällivare, Jokkmokk And Arjeplog

This area has been occupied continuously by the Saami people since prehistoric times, and is one of the last and unquestionably the largest and best preserved area of transhumance, involving summer grazing by large reindeer herds, a practice that was widespread at one time and which dates back to an early stage in human economic and social development. It contains all the processes associated with glacial activity, such as monad nocks, kursu valleys, sandurs, boulder hollows, U-shaped valleys, glacial cirques and moraines, talus slopes, drumlins, presence of large erratic and rapidly flowing glacial streams, as well as a record of humans being part of these ecosystems as far as 7000 BP.

The site lies close to the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. It consists of two landscape types: an eastern taiga area of Archaean geological origin and a western mountainous landscape covering two-thirds of the area, formed more recently and comprising part of the Swedish-Norwegian Scandes, with a thinly vegetated mountainous landscape, steep valleys and powerful rivers. Birch, low heath and alpine meadows, are found below boulder fields, permanent snowfields and glaciers. The area in northern Fennoscandia was first occupied in the Palaeolithic period, towards the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years BP. The settlers were nomadic hunter-gatherers, subsisting principally on wild reindeer, and other of their occupation is found in the form of hearths and house-foundations. The region includes the four national parks Padjelanta, Sarek, Stora Sjofallet and Muddus, and the nature reserves Sjaunja and Stubba. The archaeological record shows remains of human settlement over wide areas of the site indicating hunting and fishing culture between 3500 BC and 2000 BC. Extensive reindeer domestication and nomadic life based on herding of tame reindeer did not develop until the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Lapps or Saami in the area still live, for 4,000-5,000 years, in the mountains during the summer, especially in the western part near some of the large lakes. Family groups occupy small cabins, which have replaced the traditional dwellings made from goat-skins. There are no summer camps in the eastern part: the reindeer owners there live in the neighbouring villages and municipalities. There are no permanent settlements occupied throughout the year anywhere in this area. The Saami have progressively substituted reindeer hunting for reindeer herding from the 16th century onwards. At the same time other peoples arrived in the region from the south, settling along rivers and lake-shores. This people practised a form of transhumance, spending the summer in the mountains and the winters in the coniferous forests to the east. The Saami people have the right to fish in the large lakes in Padjelanta commercially, but as a sideline during the summer while there with reindeer herding. The crucial factor in terms of the area's integrity is the impact of reindeer husbandry which, by Swedish law, is a right guaranteed to the Saami people.

Researchers working on large mammal predators and white-tailed eagle indicated that all populations seem to be healthy with the exception of wolverine which occurs in low numbers. Also there are more than 150 bird species and 100 bears, including wanderers use the area. Regarding the wolf, the mission was advised that it is not politically feasible to reintroduce it because of the reindeer herding activity.

The Swami retain their traditional rights relating to pasturage, felling, fishing, and hunting and to the introduction of dogs into the protected areas. The practice of pastoral transhumance has been rendered obsolete or been abandoned in many parts of the world, but this area is one of the last and the best preserved of those that survive.