One of the forests with high conservation values in Ore Forest Landscape. Photo: Sebastian Kirppu.

Gåsberget in Ore Forest Landscape in the county of Dalarna in Sweden is one of northwest Europe’s largest and most valuable natural pine forest landscapes. The area needs urgent protection. But unfortunately, its conservation values are not emphasized enough in the project "Green infrastructure at Gåsberget’s High Value Forest Landscape”, which is a collaboration between the County Administrative Board, the Swedish Forest Agency, the forestry companies Sveaskog and Stora Enso and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) is an environmental organization that has surveyed the forests there but have been excluded from the project.

All forestry should be carried out with consideration at Gåsberget, according to the publication "Green infrastructure at Gåsberget’s High Value Forest Landscape” from the County Administrative Board. The organization Protect the Forest states that protection of the forest at Gåsberget is not emphasized enough. Forests with high conservation values in Sweden should not be logged at all, according to the organization, which is an approach in line with scientific research and national and international environmental goals.

Protect the Forest states that it is unacceptable that the County Administrative Board and the Swedish Forest Agency do not stand up for our environmental goals and that they exclude The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), with about 230 000 members, from the project. SSNC has a legitimate common interest in the forest. There is about 20% old natural pine forest with a history of forest fires left in Ore Forest Landscape. Very few such landscapes remain in the Swedish lowlands below the mountain region, which makes Gåsberget and Ore Forest Landscape unique.

During 2013 and 2017 SSNC carried out solid surveys in Ore Forest Landscape. They mapped out where forests with high conservation values are situated and registered which species are found there. But Ore Forest Landscape is not even mentioned in the publication from the County Administrative Board. Furthermore, the board does not refer to SSNC’s surveys other than briefly as ”voluntary conservation work which calls for more protection in the area and setting aside forests from logging”. SSNC has not been invited to take part in the County Administrative Board’s collaboration project.

Read more about Protect the Forest’s views about the content in the County Administrative Board’s publication (in Swedish) ”Projektet Grön infrastruktur i Gåsbergets värdetrakt - Delredovisning om motiv, målsättningar och utkast till metodik” (2019) here.

A clear-cut by the FSC-certified forest company Holmen in Hälsingland, Sweden. Photo: Robert Svensson

The Swedish forest worker and conservationist Bert Andersson has written an opinion article about damage caused by forest machines to the forest floors in Sweden. Bert Andersson passed away in 2016 but his words are still very relevant. He lived in the forest his whole life and experienced how the forest landscape changed from old-growth forests full of biodiversity to barren landscapes with damaged forest floors.

This is a translated article, previously published in Hela Hälsingland.

Damage caused by forestry machines emerged when the first forwarders appeared in the Swedish forest, about 50 years ago. The forwarders are built specially to manage driving with heavy timber loads in difficult terrain. Every year the machines have become larger, heavier and have stronger engines with technical solutions which have led to extreme navigation ability in the forest but at the cost of severe damage to the forest floors.

No human activity causes such severe and extensive damage to the forest floors as the forestry machines. It will take hundreds of years- or even thousands of years, depending on the soil and its location, before the wheel tracks, which are often over one meter deep, grow back together again. During this long time lapse the damages continue causing serious impact to nature and climate.

In areas where damage to the forest floor is severe there is a significant change in hydrology and soil chemistry which leads to leaching of humus, nutrients and very poisonous methylmercury. 20 per cent of all methylmercury that ends up in lakes and water are estimated to come from forestry. Of course, this leads to negative impacts to the soil, to water and to biodiversity. Deep tracks running down slopes cause erosion so that enormous amounts of sludge end up in the surroundings, sometimes up to half a kilometer away. After a forest has been logged a machine prepares the ground with a ploughing effect which completes the massacre.

There is a lot of talk about how important it is to limit emissions of carbon dioxide because of temperature rise and climate problems. From clear-cuttings and soil damage caused by machines the CO2 is literally shooting out into the atmosphere. Even if planted trees will absorb carbon it is not sure that there is enough time for the forest to become carbon neutral since the trees today are logged whilst they still are young.

Lakes and streams receive a lot of organic material from loggings and soil damage. When the organic material ends up in water and is decomposed it turns into methane gas. According to research methane is a 30 to 35 times stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and will therefore lead to much faster warming.

If the politicians are serious about environmental politics and wish to leave a society for the next generation where the great environmental issues are solved, they must urgently legislate against forestry’s deviations and the increasing damage to forest floors. The consequences of the soil damage are dangerous and unmanageable. Instead of being solved, the environmental problems in forestry are getting worse.


By Bert Andersson, forest worker

This is a introduction to a series of programs about boreal and temperate food forests and their stewards, about biodiversity and climate adaptation.

A forest garden is a food-producing ecosystem, usually dominated by perennial plants with edible parts. It is a layered system with everything from high and low fruit and nut trees, to shrubs with berries, perennial herbs, ground-covering plants, root vegetables and climbers.

The producers of these programs are Viktor and Elin Säfve, and with their family they manage the three-hectare Åfallet Forest Garden in Tylöskog, Örebro municipality, Sweden.

If you want to contact Viktor and Elin please write to: matskog(a)protonmail.com

More information can be found on www.matskog.com.

See the first YouTube episode on Forest Gardening in the North here (with English subtitles).

Forest landscape in Romania. Photo: Bergadder (Pixabay, CCO Commons)

The Swedish furniture giant IKEA is active in Romania, a country which has huge problems with illegal logging. Ingka Investments, which is a company owned by IKEA, has been taken to Romanian court for purchasing illegal forest land, which is claimed to already belong to someone. The wood in Ikea’s furniture is FSC-certified but it still may come from forests with high conservation values.

Romania habours some of Europe’s last remaining old-growth forests and virgin-like forests with a rich biodiversity, outside of Scandinavia. Unfortunately, old-growth forests are illegally logged in an interaction between land-owners, local politicians and even the police in Romania. It is common with threats against both forest rangers and journalists. In total six forest rangers have been murdered during the last years, two of which were murdered during a month’s time.

Elin Götmark, spokesperson in Protect the Forest says:

“We ask ourselves if a global actor like IKEA thinks it is responsible to do business with countries where forest rangers are murdered and illegal logging is taking place in invaluable old-growth forests and in national parks?”

In 2014 IKEA purchased large areas of forest in Romania from Harvard University. The university had purchased the forest through corrupt companies which had taken it from the Romanian state, according to an investigation carried out by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, OCCRP. IKEA has purchased a total of 50 000 hectares of forest in Romania and is therefore the largest private land owner in Romania.

The Swedish daily newspaper DN reports that the IKEA-company Ingka Investments has been taken to court for purchasing Romanian forest, which is said to belong to someone. In an interview at the site Natursidan Ulf Johansson, Global Wood Supply and Forestry Manager at Ikea Range & Supply, states that one of the challenges for IKEA is purchasing wood from many so-called high risk countries, which have problems with corruption and illegal logging.

IKEA’s goal is to purchase wood which is 100 per cent FSC-certified from these countries. At the same time there are many indications that forests with high conservation values are being logged by FSC-certified companies. FSC-certification is far from a guarantee for socially- and environmentally friendly forestry and FSC has received serious criticism from many environmental organizations, both in Sweden and internationally.  Several environmental organizations have left FSC in protest. 

By Kristina Bäck

Forest at the lake Yngern, Sweden. Photo: Bjarne Tutturen

Around the lake Yngern, about 40 km southwest of Stockholm, there is still some unfragmented forests which haven’t been logged yet. Wolf and lynx, capercaillie and black grouse live in the forests and by the lake the white-tailed eagle, black-throated loon, beaver and osprey breeds. Unfortunately, these forests are now planned to be clear-cut. The state-owned and FSC-certified forest company Sveaskog has submitted over 20 logging notifications just south of the lake during 2018-2019.

Recently a group of volunteers have been investigating the conservation values in the forests which are planned for logging at Yngsviken, southern part of lake Yngern in the county of Södermanland. Everything is far from investigated yet but many of the species which have been found so far are red-listed and threatened. Here are a few examples:

The endangered beetles Aradus erosus (EN) and Aradus signaticornis (EN), the crust fungus Phlebia centrifuga (VU), the moss Neckera pennata (VU), the moss Lophozia ascendens (VU), the lichen Inoderma byssaceum (VU), the fungus Cortinarius cumatilis (VU), the fungus matsutake (NT), the fungus Phellinus ferrugineofuscus (NT), the lesser spotted woodpecker (NT) the orchid Goodyera repens (NT). (EN= endangered, VU= vulnerable, NT= near threatened).

Many of Sveaskog’s notifications for logging are small but are placed next to each other. So, after the forest has been logged there will be larger areas of clear-cuttings, some of which will go all the way down to the shore of the lake. Bjarne Tutturen knows the forests well and is active in the local forest group, he says:

– During the last couple of years, I have noted that there is a lot of logging going on here. It is a pity because there is a large and quite wild forest area which is now losing its natural values because of fragmentation. This is where you can encounter wolf, lynx, capercaillie, black grouse, boreal owl, Eurasian pygmy owl, Eurasian eagle owl, osprey, white-tailed eagle and beaver.

According to The Swedish Species Information Centre forestry with clear-cuttings and tree plantations are the greatest threats to several of the red-listed species found in the forest. An example is the orchid Goodyera repens, whole habitats where it grows should be protected as nature reserves or biotope-protection areas, according to The Swedish Species Information Centre. South of Yngsviken there is a lot of Goodyera repens growing in the slopes down towards the lake.

The moss Anastrophyllum hellerianum (NT). Photo: Bjarne Tutturen

Another example is the capercaillie, which also breeds in the forest. When the forest gets more fragmented and is replaced with dense plantations, it is a disadvantage for capercaillie. The Swedish Species Information Centre states: ”For a continual existence of capercaillie its habitats should be at least 25 per cent within an unfragmented forest of at least 300 hectares”.

Although the area seems quite wild it is only some miles from the urban centers of Södertälje, Järna, Gnesta and Nykvarn and only about 40 kilometers from Stockholm. The forest is important for outdoor ventures, such as walking and skiing and the lake for canoeing in the summer and ice-skating in the winter. The trekking path “Sörmlandsleden” passes by some of the places where the forest will be logged.

Forests like these are important to keep intact for curbing climate change. According to 11 000 scientists from 159 countries who have declared climate emergency, forests around the world have to be protected since they sequester a lot of CO2, especially boreal forests. “We need to quickly curtail habitat and biodiversity loss protecting the remaining primary and intact forests, especially those with high carbon stores and other forests with the capacity to rapidly sequester carbon, while increasing reforestation and afforestation where appropriate at enormous scales”.

By Kristina Bäck