The image of Sweden as a global sustainable forestry leader got shattered when scientists, forest experts and representatives from environmental NGOs from Russia, Finland and the UK visited threatened natural forests in Vildmarksriket (the Wilderness Empire) and Ore Skogsrike (Ore Forest Empire) in Dalarna in Sweden last week. The Swedish forests turned out to be overexploited from an ecological point of view. The pressure on the Swedish forests grows due to an increasing demand for bioenergy and so called sustainable forest products in consumer countries like the U.K. and Germany.

Some of Europe's largest forest companies and exporters of forest products come from Sweden, such as SCA, Stora Enso, Sveaskog and Holmen Skog. More than half of the Swedish forest land is FSC-certified, which intends to guarantee that old-growth forests and environments for endangered species are protected and that the forestry is sustainable and shows consideration for e.g. water, biodiversity, climate and social values.

Experts and representatives from Russia, Finland and the UK were traveling by car through heavily exploited Swedish forest landscapes where plantations and young production forests had replaced the natural forest. The purpose was to travel to two areas where a larger proportion of the landscape consists of high conservation value forests. The natural forest at Brännvinsberget, which is included in the Ore Skogsrike, is planned to be felled by the state-owned and FSC-certified forest company Sveaskog, although the area is a habitat for a wide range of red-listed species. Local conservationists have found over 40 different so-called indicator species in the area, that is, species that indicate that the forest has high conservation values.

Olli Turunen, forest expert from the nature conservation organization FANC in Finland:
"In Sweden, forests are being logged that already 20 years ago would have been protected as reserves on the same latitude in Finland. The Swedish FSC-certified forest companies seem to be unable to recognize and protect high conservation value forests. In Finland, we have the expression "jopa sokea kana näkee sen perssilmällään," which in this context means that even a blind man can see that these are areas with high conservation values and they must be protected.”

The nature conservation expert Olga IIjina from the organization SPOK in Russian Karelia:
"The Swedish law and the protection of species and their habitats appear very dim in the light of that it is allowed to destroy such valuable forests as we have seen examples of here in Dalarna. The Swedish forestry model is promoted as the best and the most sustainable in the world, but not even red-listed species linked to this type of habitat has a strict legal protection in Sweden."

Vildmarksriket and Ore Skogsrike are two forest landscapes below the montane region which have unusually high concentrations of high conservation value forests in Sweden. This is why experts suggest that these forest areas are especially important to protect as reference areas and functional nature. The experts are upset that Sweden is not even capable of protecting the most high conservation value landscapes, habitats and species.

Anastasiya Philippova, nature conservation expert from NeoEcoProject in the Russian Leningrad region said:
"The visited forest areas Ore Skogsrike and Vildmarksriket, whose conservation values have already been identified by Swedish nature conservation experts and scientists, must definitely be excluded from forestry and appropriate measures must be taken in order to ensure long-term protection. There is still a threat to unprotected high conservation value forests in Sweden, but strangely enough also to certain voluntary set aside areas that are exempt from forestry today. It is shocking that even voluntary set aside areas, within the framework of the FSC, can be replaced and logged at any time. This must be investigated and adjusted."

The use and demand of so called biofuels from the forest is increasing. Swedish forest companies guarantee that these products come from sustainable forestry. This claim is questioned by the participants on the excursion in the Swedish forest.

Mark Olden from the UK environmental organization Fern said:
"Dalarna's remaining patches of old growth forest are under intense threat, with precious habitats and rare species being destroyed. The reality on the ground is far from the model of sustainable forestry that industry promotes. Forests which are already overburdened by the demands of the pulp and paper market will be threatened further if they are cleared to meet the EU's growing demand for bioenergy."

Contact:

  • Olli Turunen (Finland): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Olga IIjina (Russia): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • AnastasiyaPhilippova (Russia):This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Viktor Säfve (Sweden): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Mark Olden (UK): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Download this press-release including background information on the forests in Dalarna, Sweden here. 

 

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An acute threat lies over the subalpine primeval forest in Änok – one of the country's most beautiful river deltas. The Änok delta is a magnificent primeval forest landscape, unique on its own but also valuable as a part of a vast and intact wilderness. In Änok, the nature reserve Pärlälvens montane virgin forest meets the world heritage Laponia, which includes the national park Sarek among with many other protected areas. Änok lies in the heart of one of Europe's last wilderness, without roads or other signs of large-scale human activity.

Despite of this, the Swedish Forest Agency has authorized permission for the clear-cutting of 40 hectares (100 acres) of old-growth forest, only one kilometer from the border of the UNESCO world heritage Laponia. The regional authorities in Norrbotten could give this area formal protection, but to do so, the signature of the county governor is required. Until then, these forests are in peril and logging could start at any time.

Help us to stop the logging by urging Governor of Norrbotten County Per-Ola Eriksson to immediately establish a nature reserve in Änok.

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Photo: Tor Lundberg (www.kvikkjokk.nu)

Dear Per-Ola Eriksson,

As Governor of Norrbotten County you could prevent the logging in the Änok river delta, and instead preserve this unique wilderness area in the magnificent mountains of Kvikkjokk. Clear-cutting in Änok would cause irreparable damage to nature, and would also make it impossible for future generations to experience one of Swedens last unspoiled virgin forest landscapes.

There is no doubt that the natural values in Änok have the very highest qualities. The three concerned authorities – the Swedish Forest Agency, the County Administrative Board and the Environmental Protection Agency – all assess that this area has a very high conservation value. If Swedish forestry is to achieve its aspirations of ecological sustainability, they cannot continue to move in to previously untouched and roadless virgin forest landscapes.

Logging in Änok would also seriously damage the reputation of Swedish forestry, which is already today under severe critique from the environmental movement. Swedish forest policy is built on the idea of equality between production and nature conservation, which means that some forests should be managed while others preserved. If the pristine forests in Änok do not belong to the latter, there is absolutely no credibility left in Sweden's current forest policy.

As County Governor in Norrbotten you are the highest official in a government agency with the task to work towards achieving the environmental goals adapted by the Swedish parliament. Logging in Änok violates at least three of these; A Magnificent Mountain Landscape, Sustainable Forests and A Rich Diversity of Plant and Animal Life. In addition, the area is classified as having national interest concerning conservation and recreation.

Logging in the heart of Änok would be one of the 21st century's greatest environmental scandals in the forests of Sweden. We appeal to you to stop this logging and immediatly protect the Änok river delta from exploitation.

Sincerely,

 
Virgin forest is a term for forests which have never been affected by systematic forestry. Single trees which have been felled, or other signs of human activity, are disregarded if they have not affected the forest's natural structures. Only a few percent of the natural old-growth forests remain in Sweden, and many of the species which are dependent on the virgin forest as habitat are now threatened.
The Änok river delta is located in the heart of a vast wilderness, covered with virgin forests and mountains. There are no roads or other signs of large-scale forestry. Änok lies within one of the thirteen Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL-areas) in Sweden, identified by Greenpeace and other NGO's as unbroken expanses of high importance for biodiversity. Änok borders directly to the Laponia World Heritage and is only five kilometers from the Sarek National Park. Since the establishment of Kamajokk Nature Reserve in 2007, Änok is totally surrounded by protected areas. The river delta is both geomorphological interesting and visually beautiful, with winding meanders and oxbow lakes. The natural values in Änok have the very highest qualities.


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An initiative by:
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http://protecttheforest.se/images/svensboberget%20bergvik.jpg

 

The Swedish forestry model has been claimed across Europe as an example of a sustainable way to cultivate forests; in particular through the certification system FSC. In reality though, the Swedish forestry has caused a devastating impact on forest diversity since the 1950´s when the clear cutting period started.

Today, more than 2000 forest dwelling species are endangered, vulnerable or threatened, mainly due to the modern forestry methods. Between 2007 and 2009, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) has conducted field documentation of close to 500 threatened and unprotected old-growth boreal forests with high conservation values owned by large forestry companies as well as smallholders.

“The natural forests of Sweden are about to disappear. It is time that consumers and procurers all over Europe become aware that present forestry methods biodiversity in unique ecosystems in Sweden,” says Mikael Karlsson, President of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, the largest environmental organization in Sweden.

The largest forest companies in Sweden are FSC-certified. Numerous field studies carried out by SSNC during the past three years show that a remarkable number of logged areas do not live up to the FSC-standard´s key criteria. However, these violations of the FSC-regulations have not altered the companies’ possibilities to continue with using the FSC label. In as much as one third of the cases, forestry logging is also violating Swedish laws on nature protection, according to the Swedish Forestry Agency.

The SSNC has now released the report “Cutting the Edge – the Loss of Natural Forests in Sweden” in order to make buyers, traders and consumers in Europe aware of the downside of the Swedish forestry model.

“A new Swedish forestry model is needed, with regulations that safeguard the biodiversity and the forest ecosystems in Sweden. In a short-term perspective, new and strict sanctions are needed to force the forestry industry to follow present legislation. In addition, a new environmental law is needed, with the aim to protect the nature values in Swedish forests,” says Mikael Karlsson.

During SSNC´s field studies, hundreds of old-growth forests with high conservation values and woodland key habitats have been found slated for logging or logged. The forest companies have been contacted, but follow-up reviews shows that very little has changed in the companies’ procedures.

“The results of our field visits are very discouraging. More than 2,000 forest dwelling species are red-listed, and hundreds are critically endangered or endangered. Despite this, we are constantly seeing habitats for these species that have been clear felled or are reported for final felling,” says Malin Sahlin, forest campaigner, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.

The Swedish forestry model has enabled a shift from species-rich, valuable natural forests to homogenous, plantations with trees of the same age and few species. Attempts to improve the situation somewhat with, for example, certification have only had a marginal effect. The report shows that the depletion of the forests ecosystems is continuing and is being released to a large number of environmental organizations as well as buyers of Swedish forestry products in Europe.

 

Download and read the report “Cutting the Edge” here:


http://www.naturskyddsforeningen.se/upload/press/rapport-cutting-the-edge.pdf

 

Images of forests, visited by Swedish Society for Nature Conservation between 2007-2009:

http://picasaweb.google.com/swedishforests2009
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http://picasaweb.google.com/swedishforests4
http://picasaweb.google.com/swedishforests
http://picasaweb.google.com/swedishforests2

Images of logged natural forests, visited by Swedish Society for Nature Conservation:

http://picasaweb.google.com/destroyedforests

 

Read more here:


http://www.bolagsfakta.se/pressreleaser/visa/pressrelease/245234/forestry-in-sweden/B881597E-A902-4254-AFF4-02909C7237F4

Two new independent scientific studies commissioned by BirdLife International, the European Environmental Bureau and Transport & Environment cast further doubt on the EU’s policy of promoting biomass as fuel for heat and power generation, and biofuels for transport.

The first study, carried out by Joanneum Research, identifies a major flaw in the way carbon savings from forest-derived biomass are calculated in EU law as well as under UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol mechanisms. It concludes that harvesting trees for energy creates a ‘carbon debt’: the carbon contained in the trees is emitted upfront while trees grow back over many years.  The true climate impact of so-called woody biomass in the short to medium term can, as a result, be worse than the fossil fuels it is designed to replace.

“The EU is taking out a sub-prime carbon mortgage that it may never be able to pay back. Biomass policy needs to be fixed before this regulatory failure leads to an ecological crisis that no bail out will ever fix”, commented Ariel Brunner, Head of EU Policy at BirdLife International.

The second study, by CE Delft, examines the full climate impact of the main biofuels used in Europe. In particular it looked at the impact of the expansion of agricultural land into environmentally sensitive areas when food production is displaced by fuel crops, a process known as indirect land use change (ILUC). The report, based on analysis of several EU Commission-sponsored research projects and other international model studies, found that most current biofuels are as bad as fossil fuels for the climate once ILUC is taken into consideration. The study proposes concrete ways of correcting current greenhouse gas balance calculations to fully account for indirect land use change related emissions.

“As long as the EU refuses to take the full climate impacts of biofuels into account, its climate strategy for transport is doomed to failure.” said Nuša Urbancic, Policy Officer at Transport & Environment, the sustainable transport campaigners. 

“If left unchanged, biomass for energy policy will soon be in the same dire and confused state as biofuel policy is today”, added Pieter de Pous, Senior Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau. “This can be avoided if the Commission and industry are ready to face up to these facts and develop the necessary measures that will ensure bioenergy policy will actually make a positive contribution to fighting climate change”.

Together, current EU policy on biomass and biofuels risks severe environmental impacts across the globe, and a carbon debt that could take centuries to pay off.

The three groups are calling on the EU to come forward with mandatory sustainability criteria for biomass and to incorporate indirect land use change calculations into the existing sustainability criteria for biofuels and to incorporate indirect land-use change and carbon-debt calculations into sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioenergy.

Read more here.

Download the report here.

"Genetically Engineered Trees Risky, Unnecessary and Must Be Resisted Until Banned. “Eucalyptus is the perfect neoliberal tree. It grows quickly, turns a quick profit in the global market and destroys the earth.” Jaime Aviles, La Jornada"


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