Simo Sarkki, Kirsi Latola, Mikko Jokinen & Adam Stepien
This paper introduces concept of socio-natural capital, which is here seen as a property of social systems including institutions, human groups and individual people to use natural capital in a sustainable way. The objectives of this article are to map gaps regarding socio-natural capital via examining case of reindeer herding and its relations to other land uses in northern Fennoscandia, mainly in Finland, and to explore ways how socio-natural capital can be promoted in order to enhance sustainable land use in the northern sparsely populated Fennoscandia. These issues are examined based on previous research and especially on reindeer herders’ perspectives, as well as on an online questionnaire (n=13) and a workshop (n=11) with stakeholders on land use in Fennoscandia. Gaps in socio-natural capital include lack of trust between different land users, discrepancy between governance ideals and real world practices, divergent perceptions on sustainable land use, and use of resources for external benefits. Following proposals can help to close these gaps: 1) to enhance public participation, 2) to stronger institutionalize indigenous land rights, 3) to enhance multi-directional knowledge exchange, and 4) to include social impact assessment more strongly into planning processes. Further studies and conceptualisations of socio-natural capital are needed to find ways how people could interact to build capital to solve land use contradictions for sustainability.