The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre
’Wild reindeer mountains – European heritage, our responsibility’
Stiftelsen Norsk Villreinsenter (The Norwegian wild reindeer foundation) was established in 2006, with the main objective of promoting the preservation and sustainable management of the wild reindeer populations and the wild reindeer mountains in Norway. The foundation has two operational entities: Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre South at Skinnarbu in Tinn municipality, and the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre North at Hjerkinn in Dovre municipality. Each of the centres has its own defined wild reindeer region as its geographical area of responsibility (south and north of the Sognefjord respectively).
Norway manages the only remaining populations of wild European mountain reindeer in 23 more or less separate mountain areas in Southern Norway, which means that we have a unique international responsibility. Through the project 'Wild Reindeer and Society’, which was concluded in 2005, a broadly-composed advisory group, including research, management and user interests, made recommendations concerning the overall management of the wild reindeer populations and the wild reindeer mountains in order to secure them for the future. On the basis of the ‘Wild Reindeer and Society’ report, two different local initiatives were launched in spring 2005 to establish wild reindeer information and competence centres. It was hoped that these centres would help to ensure the effective and forceful implementation of the recommendations in the report and the proposals in White Paper no 21 (The Rural and Regional Policy of the Norwegian Government). One of the initiatives came from the Hardangervidda National Park Centre in Tinn, and the other from a Dovrefjell initiative group.Start-up funds were allocated in the 2006 national budget and the Directorate for Nature Management appointed a fast-working group that same summer to look at organisation.
The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre was set up as a foundation in September 2006. A board was quickly elected and the first meeting was held in December that year. The centre was officially opened at Skinnarbu on January 2007 by Helen Bjørnøy, the Minister of the Environment at the time. By 1 October 2007, all the positions had been filled and work could begin at the two centres
A national and international knowledge source
The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre shall be the institution in Norway that is responsible for making all relevant information about wild reindeer and its habitats available for national and international use. The information shall be up-to-date, of the highest possible quality and as accessible as possible to all potential users. This will make us the natural point of contact for all information relating to wild reindeer and the wild reindeer mountains.
A powerhouse for dissemination and competence-building
The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre operates at the interface between the knowledge producers and users. We shall have a clear user-focus, and one of our important roles is to communicate information to our users. This involves dissemination/information about both research-based knowledge and traditional knowledge. The school system, the authorities, the business sector, landowners and the general public will be important users. We shall place great emphasis on helping to build competence in municipal and county authorities and in relation to landowners.
An independent and unbiased player
We shall be independent and unbiased in relation to the interests and social sectors responsible for making decisions on the management of the wild reindeer populations and the wild reindeer mountains. It is a critical success factor that the knowledge disseminated is and continues to be perceived as independent and unbiased in relation to the decision-makers.
An arena and forum for cooperation and interaction
A number of players and interest groups are associated with wild reindeer and wild reindeer mountains. The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre provides a forum and an arena for airing different points of view and opinions, and it shall also help to elevate the wild reindeer from a special interest to a concern for society as a whole. Cooperation and bridge-building are important keywords describing our role, and we shall ensure that we must have a sound foundation and legitimacy at a local and regional level.