One of the forests in the Sámi reindeer herding district Luokta-Mávas that is planned to be felled by state-owned forest company Sveaskog.

Europe’s largest logging company, Swedish state-owned Sveaskog, plans to harvest the last remaining natural forests in Luokta-Mávas Sámi reindeer herding district, in the northern part of Sweden. However, due to protests, Sveaskog recently announced that it will pause its planned logging in the district Luokta-Mávas.

“Sveaskog intends to log 1000 football fields of forests, devastating to the climate and a death sentence for our community," says Lars Anders Baer, chairman of the Sámi reindeer herding district Luokta-Mávas.

The indigenous Sámi people have been living on these lands for thousands of years, proven by archeological traces in the now threatened forests.

"If these forests are to be clear-cut, this is yet another colonial act of us being erased from the history books," says Lars Anders Baer.

During the past 50 years a total of 70 percent of the reindeer-lichen, necessary for the survival of the reindeer, is already lost in Sápmi, the land of the indigenous Sámi people. “We have nowhere left to go.”

"We’ve always been using the land. Sveaskog is abusing the land. They are well aware of our dependence on these lands. The government is well aware of us having the right to protect our ancestral land. Our lives don’t seem to carry the same worth as money," says Lars Anders Baer.

"Sveaskog refers to these forests as “objects”. To us forests cannot be objects. The land of the reindeer is our home," says Lars Anders Baer.

Lina Burnelius, climate and land-use expert at Protect the Forest, has visited the forest over the last two weeks and says:

"Sveaskog’s logging plans equal enormous amounts of greenhouse gases and a further decline of biodiversity. When we find, for example, Skeletocutis lenis, we know that there is dead pinewood that it took the forest about 500 years to create. Words cannot begin to explain the bedrock of life and the size of the carbon stocks that these forests contain. They must be protected, not clear-cut."

"One cannot clear-cut natural forests and at the same time halt the climate collapse nor honour the Paris agreement. It’s impossible. But if Luokta-Mávas’ indigenous people’s rights are respected, Sweden still has a fair chance to live up to the Paris Agreement. It’s in their hands now," says Lina Burnelius.

Marie B Hagsgård, expert on the rights of minorities’ and indigenous peoples’ and member of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the protection of National Minorities, Council of Europe, states:

"The Sámi people’s possibilities to maintain and develop their culture and communities is to be promoted according to the constitutional law of Sweden."

"The Swedish Forest Agency is obligated to promote the possibility for the Sámi people to maintain and develop their reindeer husbandry culture through its supervision of the Swedish Forest Law [Skogsvårdslagen]. When two different interests are to be weighed against each other, as for instance forestry and reindeer husbandry, the Swedish Supreme Court has stated; the Sámi people’s interest to maintain its culture, including reindeer husbandry, shall be given special weight," Marie B Hagsgård concludes.

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation supports Luokta-Mávas’ fight for the last remaining natural forests. Johanna Nilsson, co-ordinator at SSNC in Norrbotten county, has witnessed Sveaskog’s lack of respect for the local communities and people of the North.

"Indigenous people only make up 5 percent of the global population today, but they protect over 80 percent of the last healthy natural habitats on the entire planet including the biodiversity these areas accommodate. That’s no coincidence," says Johanna Nilsson.

"Some call this issue complex – but to me it’s simple: none of us can live without healthy nature and water. It is frightening to us that we and Sveaskog have such different perspectives on life itself," Lars-Anders Baer concludes.

Due to the protests, Sveaskog recently announced that it will pause its planned logging in the district Luokta-Mávas.

Sign petition to demand that Sveaskog officially and permanently withdraws its 700 ha clear-cutting plans in Luokta-Mávas here.

Read more about the forests in Luokta-Mávas at Arvas Foundation here.

Contact 

Lina Burnelius, Climate and Land-use Expert at Protect the Forest, Sweden. Lina has visited the forests at Luokta-Mávas.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +46 734 404793

Lina Burnelius is Climate and Land-use Expert at Protect the Forest, Sweden.

Mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus) in Märjamaa forest-park. Photo: Mari Laanesaar.

There has been progress in Estonia's forest-park lawsuit: the dispute about whether the logging permits were challenged on time has reached the Supreme Court of Estonia. However, Stora Enso has said a few days ago that they intend to cut down the Märjamaa forest-park as soon as they can – i.e. before the Supreme Court can make a decision.

The fact that the dispute made it to the highest court gives hope to the Estonian local communities that their interests will be taken more into account when it comes to deciding over the green spaces in their neighborhoods.

Read more about the criticism against Stora Enso in Estonia here.

The forest in Märjaama forest-park. Photo: Mari Laanesaar.

100+ NGOs launch #Together4Forests urging EU action.

Fires raging in the Amazon are started deliberately to make way for large-scale industrial agriculture - and EU market demand for commodities produced on former-forest land is adding fuel to the fires. Globally, the EU is responsible for over 10% of forest destruction through its consumption of commodities like meat, dairy, soy for animal feed, palm oil, coffee and cacao.

#Together4Forests, a group of 100+ NGOs, is urging citizens to take part in a European Commission public consultation on deforestation to push for a strong EU law to keep products linked to deforestation, forest fires, nature destruction and human rights violations off the European market.

Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, Senior Forest Policy Officer at WWF EU said: “Products containing deforestation are in our shopping trolley. This must stop! Forests and other ecosystems across the world are an essential shield against climate breakdown, pandemics and the biodiversity crash, but EU consumption is weakening that shield. We urge the EU to introduce a strong law to keep forest destruction products off the market.”

WWF together with Greenpeace, ClientEarth, Conservation International, Environmental Investigation Agency and Wildlife Conservation Society, have now launched a campaign to ensure that citizens have the opportunity to make their voice heard.

Deforestation is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Agriculture is responsible for 80% of deforestation for products like soy, beef and palm oil, and the EU is a top agri-food importer.

The European Commission has pledged to propose new legislation to address deforestation in 2021. But to avoid shifting the destruction of nature to other vital natural habitats, it must also protect grasslands, savannahs and wetlands, as well as forests.

The law must also protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities – they are recognised stewards of their lands and their knowledge is crucial to preventing biodiversity loss. Stopping deforestation will not be possible without them.

The #Together4Forests movement is calling on the EU to introduce a new law to tackle its contribution to global deforestation and to ensure that nothing sold in Europe contributes to forest or ecosystem destruction, or related human rights abuses.

Sign and urge EU to act againt deforestation here.

Supporting organisations can be found here.

The WeMove petition, which is supported by Protect the Forest and more than 60 other NGOs, calls on EU policymakers and EU Member States to end subsidies and other incentives for burning forest wood. Instead, energy efficiency and true low-emissions renewable energy sources should be supported. Overall, forest protection and restoration need to be prioritised and all EU policies need to safeguard our health, the climate and biodiversity.

The petition also calls for an exclusion of energy generated from burning forest wood from counting toward renewable energy targets.

Preserving nature and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change will require an extraordinary commitment to protect and restore natural forests. Yet, EU leaders are undermining our shared efforts to fight for our forests and the planet. EU policy is increasing forest logging and associated greenhouse gas emissions by misleadingly promoting the burning of forest wood as “zero carbon” renewable energy.

Let EU officials know that burning wood for fuel is a disaster for forests and the climate by signing this WeMove petition.

Karatj-Råvvåive in northern Sweden from above. Photo: Mose Agestam.

Subalpine old-growth forest in Karatj-Råvvåive in northern Sweden, which previously was meant to become a nature reserve, is now at risk of being logged. Authorities are investigating the possibility to establish a so-called eco-park instead of giving the area formal and long-term protection. The organization Protect the Forest strongly opposes these plans and is now launching an international campaign and a petition to save the forest.

Karatj-Råvvåive is a vast old-growth forest at the foot of the mountains in Jokkmokk in the northernmost part of Sweden. For more than a decade the environmental movement has fought to protect this 13,000-hectare large area from logging. This forest is valuable for plants and animals, for people to enjoy and live in, for reindeer-husbandry, for the Sami cultural history and for the ancient forest itself. The area borders the more than 1,000 square kilometer large nature reserve Pärlälvens Fjällurskog (the Pearl River Alpine Virgin Forest) and is thereby a part of one of Europe’s last large roadless primeval forest landscapes.

For many years Karatj-Råvvåive was intended to be given formal protection, and in November 2018 the northern half of the area was finally protected as a nature reserve. But for the southern half there is no solution yet, since the landowner Jokkmokks Allmänning has opposed protection. Instead the authorities and the landowners have initiated a process to create an eco-park there.

"A large and intact old-growth forest of this magnitude is unique, and we must ensure that it is given proper protection. It would be devastating if the area became fragmented, there is no room for questionable solutions as eco-parks," says Linda Ellegaard Nordström from Protect the Forest.

An eco-park is a voluntary commitment where parts of the forest are protected, but where forestry and other kinds of exploitation are still allowed on about half of the area. It is also an agreement with a time-limit of a maximum of 50 years. Protect the Forest strongly opposes these plans and is now launching an international campaign in order to raise awareness of the threat against the forest. The organization has made a film and urges everyone to sign this petition, which will be sent to the authorities before their eco-park investigation is finished this fall.

"We want the authorities to show that they are taking responsibility for Sweden’s environmental targets and not succumbing to pressure from the forest industry. To create eco-parks in forests with a high conservation value is pure green-washing and nothing else than a loophole for the forest industry to continue to cut down the last remains of Sweden’s old-growth forests," says Daniel Rutschman from Protect the Forest.

Read more about the campaign here.

Watch the movie about Karatj-Råvvåive (20 min, subtitles in English and German) here.

Sign online petition at Change.org here.

Contacts
Linda Ellegaard Nordström + 46 70 – 254 11 48
Daniel Rutschman + 46 76 – 112 88 26

Facts about Karatj-Råvvåive

Karatj-Råvvåive is a forest 13 000 hectares in size, about 50 kilometers west of Jokkmokk in the county of Norrbotten in northern Sweden. Large parts of the area are roadless, subalpine old-growth forest. Karaj-Råvvåive consists of mountains that rise above the treeline, mountains covered in old-growth forest, wide areas of bare rock, heathland with hundred-year-old pines, large mires, streams and lakes. The Sami village of Tuorpon uses the area for reindeer husbandry, and the old-growth forests are important grazing-grounds for the reindeer.

In the west, Karatj-Råvvåive borders on the nature reserve Pärlälvens fjällurskog, and is a natural extension of one of Sweden's largest areas of old-growth forest. The area has a very large biodiversity, and thanks to being so untouched, it has large conservation value. About 1,500 individual finds of 85 different red-listed species have been reported, for example three-toed woodpecker, grey-headed chickadee, the beetle Northorhina muricata, the lichen Evernia divaricata and Collema curtisporum, and the endangered wood-living fungus Neoantrodia infirma. The WWF has earlier declared Karatj-Råvvåive a natural area which ought to be protected.