Made for the United Nations, this documentary chronicles the logging damage that has taken place in the forests of Finnish Lapland over the past 50 years. Home to the indigenous Saami peoples, these Northern old growth forests are essential to Saami reindeer herding, a traditional way of life that the Saami hope to continue into future generations. Population growth in Finland has created economic pressure – prompting migration to the Saami lands in the North. The resulting forest cutting severely depletes the lichen necessary for free reindeer grazing, and logging infrastructure disrupts the entire forest ecosystem.
A tense conflict emerges between the alliance of Greenpeace and Saami activists, who in 2005 set up a “Forest Rescue Station” in the woods to stop the cutting, and logging workers, worried about losing their jobs, who create their own “anti-terror camp” in response. The situation becomes dramatic as those in the “anti-terror” camp continually assault the Greenpeace workers with noise and threatening behavior.
Last Yoik in Saami Forests? implicates the state-owned logging company Metsahallitus in the exploitation of Saami resources, and shows that the Finnish government has done little to preserve this natural resource. The film explores possible economic alternatives to logging, such as tourism, as well as more efficient uses for Lappish timber than paper pulp, fuel or railways stocks – the wood is an excellent building material that could be commanding a higher price. The issue of indigenous land rights is the heart of the problem, and as of the completion of this film in 2007, it remains unresolved.
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