Management – who’s who?

Norway is now the only country in Europe which still has remnants of the original wild reindeer. This means that we have a special responsibility to take care of and manage the wild reindeer in a way that will allow future generations to experience viable populations of wild reindeer. Wild reindeer management in Norway is rather complicated and extensive, with several levels of management.

The Ministry of the Environment (MD) is, as a political body, responsible for the preparation of annual budgets and ensuring that political resolutions passed by the parliament and the government, are put into practice. The Directorate for Nature Management (DN) is the highest professional wild reindeer body and is responsible for drawing up regulations, allocating funds to the wild reindeer areas, clarifying knowledge requirements and financing research and supervision. DN is also the appeal body for appeals against decisions of the state-run wild reindeer boards, e.g. with respect to hunting quotas. The County Governor’s Environmental Protection Department plays an important role in ensuring that wild reindeer interests are safeguarded in land management, among other things by submitting objections in planning cases. The County Governor shall also provide advice and guidance to wild reindeer boards and wild reindeer committees, and is responsible for the finances and accounts of the wild reindeer boards. A county governor with chief responsibility is designated for each wild reindeer board.

The daily management of the wild reindeer areas is carried out in cooperation between the private and public sectors. The main responsibility for day-to-day operation is attended to by a landowners’ body, usually called the wild reindeer committee, while the state-run wild reindeer board exercises public authority. The wild reindeer council in Norway is a voluntary organisation which acts as a link between the wild reindeer areas and protects wild reindeer interests by discussing issues of common interest. Both the wild reindeer committees and the wild reindeer boards can be members of the council.

It is also usual practice to divide wild reindeer management into two main categories – land management and population management.

The wild reindeer committee

The wild reindeer committee is a group of landowners and local people, often a municipal committee or landowners association. The committee’s main tasks can be divided into the following areas:

  • Organising landowners and hunting

  • The management of populations; which includes counts and registration, setting goals for population development, drawing up a plan for attaining goals and making proposals for annual hunting quotas.

  • Liaising between landowners and the authorities.

  • The management and protection of the wild reindeer habitat.

A hunting ground is a unit allocated a hunting quota. The hunting ground is established on the basis of an application for approval from the landowners. This unit is defined in accordance with the requirements in the Cervid Regulations. The size of hunting grounds varies in our wild reindeer areas. In some areas, a hunting ground covers the entire wild reindeer area, while other areas have several hunting grounds.

Wild reindeer board

The wild reindeer board is a public board whose members and deputy members are appointed by the Directorate for Nature Management.  All municipalities with wild reindeer areas nominate a female and a male appointee suitable for the individual board’s remit. The board is subject to DN’s instructional authority and its tasks are stipulated in the Directorate’s regulations. Its tasks include approving hunting grounds, counting areas, population plans and stipulating annual hunting quotas for wild reindeer, and participating in county and municipal land management with a view to the conservation and sustainable management of the wild reindeer’s habitat. The board can be said to both exercise authority and act as spokesperson for wild reindeer.

All municipalities are required to submit all planning and land issues that may affect wild reindeer and their habitats to the wild reindeer board, which acts as a consultative body in such matters.

The Directorate for Nature Management (DN) has appointed new wild reindeer boards for the period 2008 - 2011. For the first time, all the wild reindeer boards have a female representation of 40 per cent or more. This is the result of amendments of 15 September 2007 to the regulations concerning the management of cervid animals and beavers. The new wild reindeer boards are appointed in compliance with the Gender Equality Act.

As a result of the amendments to the regulations, the previous 23 wild reindeer boards have been amalgamated into nine regional boards, most of them having responsibility for the management of several wild reindeer areas.  In addition, Tolga municipality acts as the wild reindeer board for the Tolga Østfjell wild reindeer area.


The municipalities are responsible for managing land pursuant to the Planning and Building Act. The land management section of municipal development plans is legally binding and it is therefore a very important document. It is vital to ensure that the content of overriding plans is included in municipal development plans and that the land management section of these plans affords sufficient attention and protection to wild reindeer interests. At an early stage in the planning process, municipalities should seek advice from and collaborate with wild reindeer interest bodies, which should, in turn, actively promote such collaboration.

Management of the Svalbard reindeer

Management of the Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhunchus) differs from the management of wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) on the mainland. The Ministry of the Environment (MD) has overriding responsibility for the management of environmental protection on Svalbard, while the Directorate for Nature Management has professional responsibility for all species management on the islands. The practical implementation of management tasks is the responsibility of the Governor of Svalbard. The division of tasks and roles between MD and the other agencies is laid down in separate instructions for the management of the environment on Svalbard.

The Svalbard reindeer is only found on Svalbard, and this means that Norway also has a special international responsibility for this subspecies of reindeer. Work has commenced on a new management plan for the Svalbard reindeer, in which guidelines will be drawn up for the future management of the Svalbard reindeer. Read more about the Svalbard reindeer and its management at Svalbard’s own reindeer website.