October 2016
News from Norway

Dear lovers of the wilds, fellows, friends!

The summer season is definitely past, even if the memories of three wonderful wilderness tours still are vivid in my mind. We shared many experiences: a powerful sun that created amazing rainbows and bright, colorful nights on the Nordic Summer Canoeing Experience in July. In August, on the second canoeing tour, strong winds and splendid sun took turns, and northern lights showed up on the night sky. One day we had wonderful reindeer encounters and one night we heard wolves howling in the distance. The Nordic Nature Nomadic Experience at the beginning of September was acompagnied by myriads of butterflies, which still flutter around in my memory.

Since then the days have dramatically shortened, the birches have become bare, and more and more often frost and snow wrap the mountains in white. And there is one matter, which I’m worried about: the wolf hunt, which is arranged to take place this winter. As the matter is urgent, I put it on top of the agenda. Read by yourself!

Today’s topics:

Wolf Hunt in Norway: A Call for Help

The hunting has started. 47 out of just 68 Norwegian wolves shall be shot during winter, was decided by the boards of predator management. These news hit me when returning from a longer trip abroad, and this affair I won’t, I can’t withhold from you.

The matter is complex, it involves nature conservation, protection of species, agriculture and forestry, hunting, and with that all life in the scattered villages. The debate about it is sharpened and highly emotional. It’s a minefield I’m entering here.

Everybody who got acquainted with me just a little knows that I highly respect wolves. To know that wolves (or other big predators) are close by, fires my attention and awareness for my surroundings. Their tracks reveal a lot about the agility they move with, the knowledge of place they use, the determination they act with and the interplay they keep in between them. When tracking wolves (which I do seldom enough), I feel alive as never else, as if the skills of these amazing animals passed on to me. It is so much they can teach us!

I know that a sustainable wolf population can contribute a lot to the stability and diversity of a whole ecosystem. We all know about Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA, where wolves were re-introduced about 20 years ago. The wolves limit the number of deer and other herbivores, or make them change their grazing grounds more often. Since that, the forests along Yellowstone River are flourishing, the stocks of several kinds of trees, bush and berry shrub vegetation have recovered and as a consequence many kinds of birds, smaller and bigger mammals. I can imagine that the overgrazed Norwegian forests will blossom up in a similar way, if the number of big predators raises.

Naturally I see that a raising number of wolves seem to be a threat to agriculture and forestry. The wolves simply don’t halt in front of the sheep which run free in the forests during summer. I remember lively that some few wolves killed several hundred sheep close to our canoeing area this summer. It was a feast for the crows and ravens, which gorged themselves on the carcasses. And a disaster for the sheep farmers, who may get reimbursed for the financial loss, but still see spoiled the value they had created. That wolves in general prefer moose calves as prey doesn’t simplify the matter, as hunting brings important additional income for the farmers.

Many farming families fear for their livelihood. And they fear for the existence of their ancestral village. If only few families moved away, school and kindergarten would have to close down and so the village, so the pessimistic scenario.

Well then, away with the wolves, as the boards for predator management have decided recently? I don’t know how the decision was made, couldn’t follow the process through a busy year. But I know for sure that we should act with prudence.

It took decades for the wolf population to recover from nearly extinction in the middle of the 20th century to today’s level with 68 individuals. The wolves are anyhow threatened by poaching, the most frequent cause of death for them. To shoot a whole 70% of the population now, and to keep just 21 individuals, would mean to ruin the results of protection built up through several decades.

I don’t claim that it is easy to live harmoniously with a lively wolf population around. It surely requires to rethink many things we take for granted, and to act in different manners as we are accustomed to. We know that the fear of wolves is strongest where it had disappeared for a while. A look at Romania or Spain could possibly calm down these fears: In these countries there are old traditions to protect the livestock by shepherds and sheepdogs still alive. There, people live continuously with wolves ever since, and this coexistence is sheer normality.

In the Norwegian flocks which roam the forests untended, there are finally diseases and injuries which often stay undiscovered and untreated. They lead to losses which highly exceed the losses due to predators. Is it really responsible to slip livestock into the forests and mountains unguarded, animals which have no means to survive out there on their own?

Wasn’t it wonderful to create better conditions for both livestock, predators and the whole ecosystem? Tending the herds could contribute to this. Additionally it could contribute to create better conditions for the human population, too, as it gave new fields of occupation close to nature, which did good for a marginal region.

In this context, tending herds was surely just one measure between others. It was a step away from an exploitative relation towards a productive coexistence between humans and nature, and towards a kind of homecoming for us humans. This vision drives me. Wasn’t it worth it to give it a try? To try it, instead of falling back into old and unreflected pattern?

To stop the wolf hunt is surely not enough. But it was an important step towards a more nature connected life. If you want to speak out in favor of the wolves and to stop the hunt, I recommend the following channels:

[Campaigns have ended.]

After all that agitation about the wolves I take a deep breath and finally turn to Wilderness Life’s own topics:

 

Nature Mentoring: Living Nature Connection (picture)

NATURE MENTORING
personal online training program

Many of you have surely made this experience: Coming back from a wilderness trip or course, you still feel connected and borne by the web of connections you had built up there. But soon the connective web breaks up again and you fall back into a grey everyday life.

How nature connection can be tended and integrated in our lives on the long run, that’s what the new ‘NATURE MENTORING personal online training’ is all about. The program combines independent studies at the place you live with personal online support. It is made for all of you who want to tend nature connection in a lasting way and who value personal development and self-realization.

The NATURE MENTORING personal online training program will soon be available in English. I’ll make sure to inform you about the details as soon as possible.

Fixed Programs for English-Speakers

Who has followed Wilderness Life over a longer period of time knows that most of my clients are German speakers. According to this, the fixed dates of my programs were held in German as communication language, and programs in other languages were available on agreement only – until now. As I strongly wish to open up for a broader audience, I’m in train to create new options for English-speakers to join programs of mine.

Two of my winter programs will be bilingual (English-German), which means that we will take care to translate in both directions whenever necessary. I’m looking forward to some international exchange!

 

Wilderness Courses in Norway: Wilderness Living in a Winter Camp (picture)

NORDIC WINTER CAMP Fire and Ice : Femundsmarka
The first is the ‘NORDIC WINTER CAMP Fire and Ice : Femundsmarka’, a winter wilderness course. It will be all about outdoor living in Nordic winter circumstances, and we’ll stay some nights in a cold camp, and other nights in self-dug snow holes. The details are still under development. This is your chance: Tell me which topics you wish to focus on on such a winter wilderness course. I’d love to hear your ideas and they will be appreciated for sure! I’ll present the results and the course details in my next newsletter.

BACKCOUNTRY SKI TREKKING TOUR Wild Reindeer Highland : Forollhogna
The second is the BACKCOUNTRY SKI TREKKING TOUR Wild Reindeer Highland : Forollhogna, which takes place on the vast highlands of Forollhogna National Park. We’ll explore this outstanding subarctic area on traditional wooden skis, trekking from cabin to cabin. Read the full description here:

Due to these changes, I’ve put a SCHEDULE online where the dates of the English programs are listed. There will be more dates in future!

As usual, I’d finally like to draw your attention to all my channels of communication:

I’ll post current events on facebook.com/wildernesslife.no at irregular intervalls. ‘Like’ the page to get the news on your timeline. Share page and posts with others and help me to spread the message. Thank you for that!

In the newsletter I’ll feature special stories about the wilds, upcoming events at Wilderness Life and tips how to connect with nature. Feel free to forward this newsletter to others, this also helps me. Who doesn’t already get the newsletter automatically, can register here:

You find detailed information about program and profile of Wilderness Life on my website, and I’m in train to upgrade the English pages to a full version.

Now as the days get shorter, the weather cold and misty – use the time to connect with your inner nature! Have a nice autumn!

Kind regards from the foggy mountains of Norway

Thoralf

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PS: I’m sorry for the speech mistakes you may have noticed: I’m not a native speaker and still training.