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WeMove.EU: Romania is home to the largest remnant stands of virgin forest in Europe outside of Scandinavia. It is also home to Europe's largest and most healthy populations of bears, wolves and lynx. Yet, Romania's forests, including national parks and Natura 2000 sites, are under siege. Rather than being protected places of outstanding beauty and nature conservation, chainsaws and bulldozers are logging and destroying enormous tracts of virgin forests that have stood for thousands of years.

This is a tragedy of epic proportions. The scale of logging is much greater than what triggered an international outcry and a welcome intervention by the European Court of Justice in the Bialowieża forest in Poland.

This destruction is occurring at the same time that the Romanian government holds the EU presidency. It is happening before the eyes of the EU and with the full support of the Romanian government. Urgent intervention is necessary to uphold the rule of law and protect Romania's outstanding natural heritage.

Please sign the petition to help save Europe's last large virgin forests in Romania. The petition is run by EuroNatur Foundation and Agent Green.

The old-growth spruce forest at Goussavare which is planned for felling by Sveaskog. Photo: Björn Mildh.

Representatives from the FSC certified and state-owned company Sveaskog have recently stated that the company will not log the old-growth forest at Guossavare in the municipality of Arjeplog in northern Sweden. However, the regional Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and Maskaure Sami village are sceptical and state that as long as the forest area is notified for felling, Sveaskog is not trustworthy.

Here is a new letter to Sveaskog from Björn Mildh and Johanna Nilsson from SSNC in Luleå and Leif Lundberg from Maskaure Sami village:

Dear Anette and Fredrik,

On request, representatives from Sveaskog have stated that the company will not log the forest on Guossavare.

However, we have long experience showing that no woodland key habitat or important reindeer grazing forest is safeguarded on Sveaskog's land. This also applies for Guossavare.

- The forest is still notified for final felling (just like at Strandberget, another high conservation value forest planned to be logged, coordinates, Sweref 99: N 7290865; E 717830).

- The marking of the transport road from the forest to the forest road is already done.

- The undergrowth has already been cleared in the forest. (This is done in order to make it easier for the forest machines to drive through).

- Sveaskog's map of nature conservation forests shows that the area that we documented in the photo album is not a conservation value forest, but instead a production forest. This is also evident from the coordinates in our letter to Sveaskog. If the company claims otherwise, you can visit the forest and check the coordinates where the photos are taken.

There is a nature conservation forest further to the northeast, but it is not included in the area we documented.

It is convenient for Sveaskog to make new classifications of nature conservation forests when it is appropriate for them. They can quickly change the status of the forest. There is no transparency, everything is managed internally, entirely. In addition, Sveaskog does not share its natural value assessments publicly on which the classifications are based. The natural forest at Lill-Skarja is a recent example.

For the company, words and actions are different things.

Sveaskog is not trustworthy.

Yours sincerely,

Björn Mildh, member of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation

Leif Lundberg, Maskaure Sami village

Johanna Nilsson, member of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in Luleå

The old-growth spruce forest which Sveaskog is planning to clear-cut at Goussavare. Photo: Björn Mildh

The FSC certified and state-owned company Sveaskog is planning to log an old-growth spruce forest with high conservation values in the municipality of Arjeplog, northern Sweden. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) and Maskaure Sami village have written a joint letter to Sveaskog stating: “Sveaskog’s lack of timber is so massive that even an old-growth forest above the mountain forest region is planned for logging”. Here is the letter from Björn Mildh and Johanna Nilsson from SSNC and Leif Lundberg from Maskaure Sami village:

”Dear Anette and Fredrik,

Sveaskog repeatedly assures that they always carry out a thorough and competent assessment of a forest’s conservation values before logging. Despite this, Sveaskog is planning to log an old-growth forest due to the current large lack of timber, a forest which is above the mountain forest region.
The old-growth spruce forest at Guossavare is situated in the reindeer grazing land of Maskaure Sami village. Coordinates (Sweref 99): N 7303048; E 631911. These pictures were taken in August 2019:
http://www.norrbotten.snf.se/wordpress/sveaskog-har-avverkningsplanerat-en-fjallnara-granurskog/

It is not suprising that Sveaskog consequently refuses to openly show its assessments with conservation values as it already has classified an old-growth spruce forest as a production forest and already has removed all undergrowth in it. A presentation of the assessment would reveal all its embarrassing faults. Even the Swedish Forest Agency’s approval to clear-cut this mountain forest has been a mere formality. The Maskaure Sami village is dependent on intact reindeer pastures in the forest but these needs are ignored, although the reindeer industry is classified as a national interest in Sweden.

Time and again Sveaskog has overrun Sweden’s indigenous population - the Sami. The forest company’s demand for timber always comes first. Sveaskog also uses the FSC certification to legitimize its infringements and its lack of transparency. Prevailing problems inevitably lead to conflicts and “a never-ending fight”, even Sveaskog should be able to comprehend this fact. Sveaskog - please make improvements.

Best regards,

Björn Mildh, member of the Swedish Society of Nature Conservation
Leif Lundberg, Maskaure Sami village
Johanna Nilsson, member of the Swedish Society of Nature Conservation, Luleå”

The threatened forest at Goussavare. Photo: Björn Mildh
Siberian jay. Photo: Erik Hansson

Swedish forests with Siberian jays can now be clear-cut, according to legal proceedings which give land-owners the right to log forests with Siberian jays. The landowners who have been enforcing the so called ”Siberian Jay-cases” in Sweden have been backed up by the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF) and forestry companies. The decision is now criticized by the environmental NGO Protect the Forest.

In the judgement it says that ”the Siberian jay is a relatively common bird even in the concerned area and to prohibit logging is a great interference for the landowners”.
Elin Götmark, spokesperson in Protect the Forest, comments:
"The court has disregarded that it is the preservation of the Siberian jay which should determine the decision of the court. Even the precautionary principle must be weighed in, which hasn’t happened. The judgement leaves the question open about what kind of background material that is required to make an assessment about the protection of species. A feasible consequence of the court’s decision should have been to send the case back to the Swedish Forest Agency for further investigation instead of allowing the forest to be logged."
This article was first published in Swedish by Natursidan

Green Resources’ pine plantation in Kachung. Photo: Kristen Lyons/The Oakland Institute.

A new briefing paper by The Oakland Institute brings forward evidence that the Norwegian forestry and carbon credit company, Green Resources, evicted villagers around their tree plantation in Kachung, Uganda. The Swedish Energy Agency purchases carbon credits from Green Resources. The establishment of the large-scaleplantation on land previously used by subsistence farmers has resulted in loss of land, livelihoods and created an on-going food security crisis for the local villagers. 

The Swedish Energy Agency reports to Swedish TV4 (in writing) that it considers Green Resources to be compliant to the Agency's reform demands for the local villagers.

Green Resources also has new majority shareholders, the public development institutions of Norway and Finland - Norfund and Finnfund - which rescued it from bankruptcy in July 2018. These institutions are aware of the land grab, yet continue to finance the project despite Green Resources’ abuse against the communities at Kachung.

Oakland Institute releases company documents in its briefing paper - including letters showing that villagers have been evicted fom the plantations. 

The briefing paper also exposes the complicity of the international certification body Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which is supposed to verify the company’s compliance with environmental and social standards. The FSC audit report from 2016 has omitted the impact of the land grab despite of an ongoing lawsuit where the villagers in Kachung sued Green Resources and the National Forest Authority.

Frédéric Mousseau, Policy Director of the Oakland Institute, said in a press release (Oakland Institute):

“Based on flawed audits, the accreditation Green Resources received from the certification agencies calls into question their commitment to social and environmental standards. In the name of fighting climate change, they claim that a large-scale plantation of non-native pine trees, which are to be cut and sold as timber, is preferable to subsistence activities of African farmers. As thousands of Ugandan villagers struggle to survive after the loss of their land and natural resources to the plantation, the institutions and government agencies that enable Green Resources to operate must be held accountable for their wrongdoings and their complicity in this land grab.”

“Beyond the need for accountability, that such a flawed project could run with the backing of three European governments, several international bodies, and specialized private auditing firms, raises serious questions around the true motives of these institutions as well as the purpose and the functioning of the whole carbon economy,” Mousseau concluded.

Read the Oakland Institute report Evicted for Carbon Credits: Norway, Sweden, and Finland Displace Ugandan Farmers for Carbon Trading

See the news feature from Swedish TV4 here (only in Swedish).