Reindeer breeding is an important branch of YaNAD economy and the main trade of a considerable part of local population. It is the traditional form of economic activity, on the basis of which the mode of life, culture, ethnic and ecological traditions of native people have formed. The economic and social position of reindeer breeders and other people, connected with this trade, is very serious.
According to the number of domestic reindeer - over 500 thousand - Yamal takes the second place in Russia. Formerly the local population utilized most of the reindeer breeding products. Only a small part - about 20% - was industrially processed. At the same time reindeer is an animal of universal productivity. It gives not only meat, but medicines for the treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses as well. Now there is a tendency for the complete industrial utilization of the reindeer breeding products. The lines for sausages and smoked meat are built in the State farms "Baidaratsky" and "Yarsalinsky". The special workshop is to produce medicines in Yar-Sale. The new technologies of medical preparations making from reindeer antlers are worked out. The furs and leather dressing is supposed to be done in cooperation with foreign firms. The problems of production supplying are related mainly to the under-developed transport infrastructure and the lack of investments.
The productive reindeer breeding formed in Yamal by the middle of the 19th century, and in the early 20th century, according to the data of B.M. Zhitkov, the vegetation of Yamal peninsula was already affected by the intensive pasturing. Since that time the burden, laid on the environment, greatly increased. The vegetation was gradually transforming, the reserves and quality of fodder were decreasing.
Reindeer not only eat but also trample down the plants, and especially intensively - in the summer period, when there is no snow.
The conventional flock of 1000 reindeer consumes in the course of a year 900 tons of moss, 220 tons of grass, 600 tons of cereals and sedges, 670 tons of leaves and bush sprouts.
The most disturbing is the situation with moss (reindeer moss). This fodder is already disappeared in many regions of Yamal peninsula.
The intensification of pasturing affects the bush vegetation - some kinds of bush are destroyed completely, others - like willows - reduces to a third, while the average height of bushes reduces tenfold. The increment sprouts decreases by 40-60%.
The number of reindeer in Autonomous District does not correspond to the existing natural fodder resources. This process may lead to the decrease of reindeer breeding productivity and to the degradation of the whole branch of economy. The pasture resources of Autonomous District are limited - there are no reserved pasture territories, while a considerable part of pastures need a rest and some of them are occupied by the developing oil and gas extracting industry. In these circumstances the increase of reindeer number is impossible.
A number of experiments were carried out in order to accelerate the regeneration of moss, but it is a very difficult problem even in the less severe climatic conditions, than that of Yamal. The natural regeneration - according to the different evaluations - takes from three to thirty years. In order to reduce the regenerating period pastures are to be given regular rest before they will be driven to the state of complete degradation.
The industrially affected lands need the re-cultivation. Its task is to stimulate the natural growth of vegetation on the deserted territories in order to prevent erosion and to improve the appearance of industrial landscapes. The ultimate aim of this process is to return the lands to the pasture condition.
The important measure is monitoring - the regular control of the pastures condition.