Oral histories as a baseline of landscape restoration – Co-management and watershed knowledge in Jukajoki River
Keywords:North Karelia, Jukajoki, Co-management, Oral History, Optic History
This article explores local oral histories and selected communal written texts and their role in the severely damaged watershed of Jukajoki [and adjacent lake Jukajärvi watershed] located in Kontiolahti and Joensuu municipalities, North Karelia, Finland. All in all 35 narratives were collected 2010−2012. Four narratives have been presented in this paper as an example of the materials. Empirical materials have been analysed by using a framework of both Integrated Ecosystem Management and co-management. Three readings of the river Jukajoki and the adjacent watershed emerged from the materials – Sámi times, Savo-Karelian times and times of damages, or the industrial age of the river. Local knowledge, including optic histories, provided information about pre-industrial fisheries, fish ecology and behaviour and bird habitats. Lastly, special oral histories of keepers of the local tradition provided narratives which are consistent with inquiries from other parts of Finland, non-Euclidian readings of time and space and hint at what the Indigenous scholars have proposed as an intimate interconnection between nature and human societies extending beyond notions of social-ecological systems. Empirical oral histories also conceptualize collaborative governance with a formal role of local ecological knowledge as a future management option for the Jukajoki watershed. Watershed restoration and associated baseline information benefits greatly from the oral histories recorded with people who still remember pre-industrial and pre-war ecosystems and their qualities.