New Year resolutions

New Year´s Eve. It is also time to look back, to think about year 2020. It is also time to make promises. Time to decide to use our precious time in a good way.

First months of year 2020 were simply full of snow. Most of our free time was spent clearing snow from the critical parts of the garden. Excluding the enormous snow fall, life was rather normal.

11th of January, an article in our local newspaper caught everyone´s attention. This article was about year 1920 in Lapland – the time when Spanish flu came to Lapland, one of the last remote corners of the world. Some of the Lapland villages were simply full of orphans in the end of the epidemy. Some people already knew to self-isolate and survived. The article included also a picture special to us, the death notice of grandfather’s little sister from March 1920. She was one of the many victims. That article really made all the readers to wish that world would never experience anything like that again. Meanwhile, the pandemic 2020 was already starting.

Year 2020 brought also other shadows to the landscape. Diseases, fear and loss have touched us this year. Some sorrows simply cannot be seen coming.

Even in 2020, spring came. The enormous piles of snow melted and nature was again in blossom. Mother Nature carried on.

Also animals do carry on. Sheep have been grazing and dogs have been guarding them as always. Sheep have carried on with their biodiversity work – probably without realizing they are restoring grazing land ecotypes.

Farm life includes that there is always work to do. Things to be done before the rain or things to be done before the winter. Stopping is not an alternative.

Increasingly often, we find ourselves looking at this precious landscape southwest. Pure nature and natural landscape may be lost in the future. Year 2020 also brought the news, that also the rest of the life as we know it, may be over. There is a plan to develop these hills for large scale energy production. Local livelihoods like reindeer keeping and nature tourism are the casualties in the fight against climate change. Calving grounds may be lost – and for companies taking tourist to see northern lights, windmill lights are “an eternal Covid-19”, even far away from the actual wind park. There are not many properly dark places left, even in Lapland. Remote, dark and silent places are also important for wildlife. House and holiday homes may go down in value: nobody wants to live next to a large industry area.

Hills and fells are low here and especially tall windmills are needed to generate power. This means significant material and transport demand. In the untouched parts of Lapland also distances are long: massive powerline corridors are needed if energy is produced here. Such a footprint seems like a environmentally costly way to fight the climate change. It hardly is a surprise that many people here question if we are casualties in fight against climate change or just casualties in making money. If local livelihoods and wildlife are lost, the environmental gain should be seriously large and the project should make a difference in saving the world. Gains and losses must be properly analyzed and evaluation results must be truly and seriously used decision making.

Are there things to regret, concerning 2020? Yes, there are, from year 2020 and all the years before. All those exiting nature observations over the years that we have not registered (while being too busy or just forgotten). One of our New Year resolutions is, from now on, to register all the important information concerning our own local environment. If our data and our neighbors observations were available in public sources, also professionals could use the data and confirm critical nature values (where they are correct and still up to date). All information can help to make better assessments and evaluations. Nature in our area is not poor, but it is poorly documented.

One of the New Year resolutions must be saving energy. We already heat our house and water with forestry residues. Biological processes in animal bedding keep the animal spaces warm. Artificial heating is needed only for coldest days. In rural life, we can always become better in planning and minimizing transports. In general, we must find more ways to not use energy if we question the methods of producing it.

Then there is one promise we make almost every year. We promise to try even harder to understand animal “languages”. It is amazing to see how different species “speak” to each other. We have already written about this and will certainly write more about this. In inter-species communication we humans unfortunately often are the weakest link. If the farm animals can learn to communicate fluently with each other, we should be able to learn something too! After all, we humans have more in common with animals than we realize. Or perhaps we should put it this way: we are not as special as we think.

These New Year resolutions may seem somehow random and not linked… but perhaps they are a bit linked after all. When we observe animals, it usually takes for a while to figure out what they are doing, but their activities finally start making sense. Perhaps the starting year 2021, we humans should try to see ourselves from some other species’ perspective. Is there any chance that human choices would make any sense, looking from any other species perspective?

31st December 2020, in Teeriniemi

Anthony and Päivi

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