Ecosystem and Species Management

Conservation and restoration of wild reindeer populations

Feasibility study

Fauna and flora of the Arctic are under increasing pressure from industrial development and global warming (see This applies in particular to the charismatic megafauna of the region, such as wild reindeer and polar bears. The disappearance of these species would be not only a major biological loss, but also an economic and cultural loss, in particular for the local and indigenous people of the Arctic.

Eight populations of wild reindeer inhabit the Yamalo-Nenetsky National Okrug of Russia. One of these populations, the Nadym–Pur River population, is under heavy pressure. It has been suffering from the impact of the gas industry since the 1960s, which has led to a rapid decline in the population. 

There are multiple causes for this ecological disaster:

  • Exploitation of gas fields, geological investigations, construction and operation of pumping stations and pipelines.
  • Additional pressure is being built up by the construction of a new pipeline, which will be linked to the Baltic Pipeline (North Stream) and deliver gas to Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK.

Russian oil and gas companies contribute a significant amount of money to nature conservation. However, contributions for wild reindeer conservation are insufficient. Lack of knowledge about home-range structure, critical habitats and migration corridors impedes serious conservation action. Data exchange with other countries that have long-standing experience in this field would help to improve the situation.


The aim of this feasibility study was to identify conflicts between wild reindeer and the oil and gas industry and to define management measures which will reduce and, where possible, avoid conflicts.

Time frame

One year; 2012.


The WNF INNO fund, for international nature conservation activities by Dutch organizations.


The result of the study was that it will require long-term relationship building with the responsible oil and gas industry in the region prior to being able to carry out field research on the actual conflicts. Existing projects and organizations in the region should be mobilized for ensuring possible success.