Critical transitions

Landscape transformations are ongoing in all three Nordic countries, albeit with large variations, which has led to path-dependent differences in herding practices between the countries. Therefore, the distance to crossing a tipping point is likely to differ between countries as well as between herding districts. Indicators for the distance to a tipping point could be the amount of supplemental feeding, changes in lichen biomass and in the rotational use of lichen pastures, and the increased investment in the mechanization of reindeer herding.


Changes in slow variables typically become apparent only after long time periods (decades), and may cause non-linear responses in other more dynamic fast variables. A slow variable may be a gradual loss in lichen pasture quality or quantity at a landscape level, which affects the faster variables of reindeer growth and survival. The key to understanding the resilience of the system is then to understand the dynamics of its slow variables: pasture quality and quantity.