The conference, which is organised by Wild Europe, comes at a critical moment with opportunity to influence policy on old growth forest & wilderness habitats in Europe.

Date And Time: Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 8:00 AM – Thu, Nov 21, 2019, 6:00 PM CET

Location: Hotel Tatra, 5 Námestie 1. mája, 811 06 Staré Mesto, Slovakia

The conference deals with challenges facing wilderness and old growth forest and has two main objectives:

• To produce new initiatives aimed at strengthening the protection agenda and supporting larger scale ecological restoration, on the 10th anniversary of Wild Europe's involvement in the 2009 EU Parliamentary Resolution on wilderness, passed by a massive and enduring 538 vote mandate

• To determine and develop next steps for the old growth forest protection strategy, building on the projects initiated with the 550,000 euro raised since Wild Europe's Brussels conference in 2017

The conference is held against a background where destruction and degradation of habitat in Europe is worsening even in supposedly protected areas, illegal and inappropriate logging is widespread and there are growing challenges from climate change, and political indifference.

Equally there are significant positive opportunities to be secured from new national initiatives and effective use of a nature enterprise funding agenda. Additionally the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, a New Green Deal, guidelines for the new European Commission – all to be determined in the next few months with impact on EU and non-EU states alike.

Rebecka le Moine, Member of the Swedish Parliament (the Green Party) will give a talk on 'Best practice for wildness in European state forests: examples for replication' during the conference.

More information on the programme here.

More information on Wild Europe here.

A tree stump in the forest at Biellovare. It indicates that a fire has been in the forest a long time ago.
Photo: Björn Mildh.

The FSC-certified and state-owned company Sveaskog continues to plan loggings in old-growth forests which are important reindeer grazing lands of the Maskaure Sami village in Arjeplog’s municipality. Sveaskog will not openly publish its nature value assessment of the forest of Biellovare, which is planned for logging. Leif Lundberg from Maskaure Sami village, Björn Mildh and Johanna Nilsson from The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) have written an open letter to Sveaskog. They ask Sveaskog if the company’s nature value assessments are of such low quality that they can’t be shown?

Here is the open letter to Sveaskog:

"Dear Anette, Fredrik and Jenny,
Sveaskog continues to log old natural forests, which are important reindeer grazing lands for Maskaure Sami village, even though the Sami village has said no to logging. At the same time Sveaskog refuses to show its nature value assessments concerning the forest at Biellovare, although we have asked for a written report time and again (Leif Lundberg Maskaure Sami village and Björn Mildh SSNC):
”. . will not send any written nature value assessment. .” (Answer from Sveaskog in a letter 11.10.2019).

Are Sveaskog’s assessments of such low quality that they can’t be shown?
The natural forest at Biellovare:

Sveaskog has the great self-confidence to carry out its own nature value assessments internally. In that case no forest which is a reindeer grazing pasture should be cut down as the assessment is held secret. Especially since the Sami village in question has said no to logging and has asked for a written report.
Sveaskog’s secrecy and refusal strides against the general conception of justice.

How many times should this have to be said to a company which has FSC-certified its forestry and has ”openness” as its keyword?

Sveaskog, please be open and publish your nature value assessment of the forest at Biellovare!!

Kind regards,
Leif Lundberg, Maskaure Sami village
Johanna Nilsson, member of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in Luleå
Björn Mildh, member of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation"

The natural forest which Sveaskog is planning to clear-cut at Gijmiesgielas. Photo: Björn Mildh

The FSC-certified and state-owned company Sveaskog is planning to log a 200-year old mixed pine forest at Gijmiesgielas, located in the reindeer grazing lands of Maskaure Sami village in Arjeplog’s municipality, Sweden. An open letter has been sent to Sveaskog, demanding that the rights of the Sami people should be respected and that Sveaskog should withdraw their logging plans. The letter states that "Sveaskog’s secrecy to get at the timber even in woodland key habitats is totally unacceptable",
Read the open letter from Björn Mildh member of The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), Leif Lundberg from Maskaure Sami village and Johanna Nilsson, member of SSNC in Luleå:

“Dear Anette, Fredrik and Jenny,

How many natural forests classified as woodland key habitats are Sveaskog planning to clear-cut in Maskaure Sami-village’s reindeer grazing land? The next one Sveaskog is planning to take is the forest at Gijmiesgielas. Sveaskog has already built a new road straight through the natural forest which has high conservation values.

The forest at Gijmiesgielas is over 200 years old and consists of mixed pine with trees of all sizes and with occasional old sallows. There is a lot of dead wood and coarse woody debris. High stumps with holes for birds and numerous old pines. The spruce forest is richly draped with dark hanging lichens and is therefore an important reindeer grazing forest. Co-ordinates (Sweref 99): N 7301835; E 630899.

There has been a fire in the forest a long time ago. There has also been some logging done with an axe a long time ago but the continuity of both trees and dead wood are intact. The forest is in the same class as a woodland key habitat and has both capercaillie and black woodpecker.

We demand that Sveaskog openly declares its nature value assessment and declares why this forest is classified as a production forest (PG)!

Sveaskog’s secrecy to get at the timber even in woodland key habitats is totally unacceptable.

Even before a consultation has taken place Sveaskog has planned to log the forest and has built a road for transports.This proves that the company is plainly going to overrun the Sami village and cut down the forest!

The Sami-people have now said no to loggings at the consultations and during the field visits. Sveaskog has not accepted their no, which is loud and clear, but instead let the matter be mediated. The Sami-village continues to say no to logging but still it is Sveaskog/the state which determines to clear-cut the forests. Just like in Brazil where Bolsonaro decides that the indigenous peoples’ forests should be burnt. In Sweden the state/the state-owned company Sveaskog decides that the forests should be cut down! Is there any difference?

In both cases the state does not respect the rights of the indigenous people and they overrun them. Sveaskog, is this how FSC-certified forestry should be conducted?

Woodland key habitats should be protected and not clear-cut.

Reindeer grazing land should be left alone. The reindeer industry is classified as national interest in Sweden.

The rights of our indigenous people the Sami should be respected.

Amanda Lind, the Minister for Culture and Democracy, the Environmental Committee and the Committee on Agriculture have all been informed. Even the FSC-certifier has been informed.

Best regards,

Björn Mildh, member of SSNC i Naturskyddsföreningen

Leif Lundberg, Maskaure Sami village

Johanna Nilsson, member of SSNCin Luleå”

A nest of a capercaillie, in the threatened forest. Photo: Björn Mildh
The road which has been built through the old, natural forest at Gijmiesgielas. Photo: Björn Mildh
These forests are my home. Only here I can hear the voices of my ancestors. If someone started destroying
your house, noone would question you from stopping it. Photo: Andris Fågelviskare

This text is written by Andris Fågelviskare:

There is noise in the forest today. Branches cracking as something massive moves through what used to be old growth forest. A panicked squirrel escapes into the strip of forest that remains. The old trees have fallen. The hazelnuts, hidden to become food for the winter, now buried under layers of tree-branches and muddy tracks made by big machines. Two wrens fight over territory where the borders are no longer distinguishable.

This is Sweden, 2019. One of the countries in Europe with the best reputation when it comes to nature-protection. The logging industry has spent millions on propaganda and brainwashing to maintain this reputation. "For every tree cut, we plant two more". "They will absorb carbon-dioxide and make climate-friendly products for the future". Their commercials sound very nice to someone who have not looked deeper into the forest itself. In reality, forest in Sweden is being cut down at a similar rate as the Amazon rainforest. Old-growth forest now makes up less than a few percent of the tree-cover in Sweden. And planting trees are not always as good as it sounds. Look deeper. After the old forest is gone, the earth is plowed. Just like on a field.

Forestry fields, plowed and planted with genetically similar spruce. Photo: Andris Fågelviskare
On a normalsized clearcut, there will be thousands of tree-saplings planted. Usually by hand, often by low-paid workers imported from asia or eastern Europe. These saplings are almost entirely spruce. These spruces have been gentically selected for high-speed growth, and raised in laboratory-like conditions. All genetically similar, different than the local spruce that grew here naturally. Genetical diversity within the forest is lost. The saplings are often sprayed with poison to prevent insects or deer from destroying them. Also to consider, spruce are not naturally the first species to reclaim open ground. Birch, willow, aspen and other leafy trees do that. Instead, these species are treated as weeds, and actively removed. The few who survives are often consumed by hungry moose. In the long run, these highly important species loose their place in our forests. Remaining, is straight lines of same-aged, genetically similair plantations of spruce or pine. Dark, acidic, almost nothing can live there. A biological desert, compared to the wild abundance that once lived here. And the wood-quality of these fast-growing trees is very poor, but at least money can be made a little bit faster. Even if native trees were allowed to return on their own, it would still take hundreds of years to restore what is being cut in just a few days.
Modern humans look to the stars wondering if they are alone in the universe. Blind, to the fact that millions of other
life-forms share this planet with us. Photo: Andris Fågelviskare

These forests are my home. Only here I can hear the voices of my ancestors. If someone started destroying your house, noone would question you from stopping it, and police would make sure to catch the one doing it. If I try to defend my home, for instance by simply standing in the way of a logging-machine, I would be the one breaking the law. The one destroying my home is being paid. This is also the home of countless other species. Birds, insects, fungy, deer, fox, wolf, boar, moose and many more. But from the inside of a logging-machine, you won't hear the warning-screams of the birds. Modern humans look to the stars wondering if they are alone in the universe. Blind, to the fact that millions of other life-forms share this planet with us. The separation from the rest of nature seem to have caused humanity to loose the ability to notice the very existence of the squirrel and the wren. In the spring, all the migratory birds will return, to a forest that no longer exist. They will have to fight eachother, for the few remaining traces of forest, to survive. Step by step, the land is silenced. A warning, of what awaits the human civilization...


Deep muddy tracks cutting through the remaining old-forest. Photo: Andris Fågelviskare

Fighting the logging-industry, together with the two other main land-destroyers, the hunting-industry and the industrial agriculture, is like an ant trying to attack an elephant. The only way to succeed, is by being many. And what will bring the biggest effect, is not fighting against, but rather be the change we wish to see. To focus on that what we love, our home on this beautiful planet. It is not about loosing the wild nature, what we are faced with, is the risk of manifesting our own extinction. The web of life on which we depend break apart as more and more threads are pulled out of the tapestry. We all need to rewild, re-align ourselves with the Earth. Every moment I do not act, the fatigue and exhaustion takes me over. Too tired to keep fighting. But I guess the power within, awakens when the call of the heart is answered. It is calling now. Step up, do your thing. There is no time to waste. This is so much bigger than me. Let the fight end here, so that we may live, all beings together, we need eachother to rebuild that magnificent tapestry...

By Andris Fågelviskare. A wanderer of the forest, a listener to the unheard voices. I speak from Mother Earth, the truth.

The natural spruce forest which is planned to be clear-cut at Dikanäs. Photo: Jon Andersson.

Forests with very high conservation values above the mountain region are planned to be clear-cut in Dikanäs in the northern part of Vilhelmina municipality, Sweden. So far 20 red-listed species have been registered in a brief inventory of the threatened forests. There are small parts of primary forest and also an abundance of dead wood in the forests. Vilhelmina Övre Allmänningsskog is going to carry out the logging.

About 40 hectares of forest is planned for logging including a new road. The threatened area is located in a large and expansive forest landscape which is untouched by modern forestry. The organisation Protect the Forest has carried out an inventory of the 3 500 hectares of forest landscape during 2017 which resulted in 2 500 finds of 53 different red-listed species. In the forest planned for logging 20 red-listed species have been found. The rare fungus Rhodonia placenta (VU) is one of the finds, it has previously only been registered in five sites in the county of Västerbotten. The red-listed fungi Laurilia sulcata (VU) and Skeletocutis chrysella (VU) have also been found in the forest which is planned to be clear-cut.

"I think it is unacceptable to let the forest industry have access to an area like this. In Sweden the proportion of long-term protected forest is very small, only 5-6 per cent, and of the protected forest even less have high conservation values like the forests in the near mountain region. There is hardly any natural forest left of the forest which existed before the industrial logging started- and what is left is situated in the near mountain region forests," states Jon Andersson from Protect the Forest, who has done the field survey in Dikanäs.

The planned loggings (red lines) finds of red-listed species Vulnerable (red dots), Near Threatened species
(yellow dots) and the Swedish Forest Agency’s indicator species (blue dots). Photo/montage: Jon Andersson.

Vilhelmina Övre Allmänningsskog, which has planned to log the forest, has so far not taken any responsibility for the high conservation values in the area. The Swedish Forest Agency, which is the national authority in charge of forest-related issues and should also make sure that natural values are not damaged, have supported the planning of roads for forestry vehicles in the old-growth forests at Dikanäs.

The organisation Protect the Forest demands that the logging plans and the plans for new roads in the old-growth spruce forests are withdrawn. The organisation calls for that these forests should become part of the nature reserve of Marsfjället, south of the forest landscape. If logging is allowed in this kind of environment it proves that Sweden’s forestry policy with the constant principle” freedom under responsibility” leads to permanent damage of the biodiversity and serious obstruction in the work to reach international environmental goals.

"These forests must be withdrawn from clear-cutting if Sweden is to fulfill international commitments within the EU and the UN. When will Sweden start taking responsibility for the unique forest landscape which is in the mountain region? Time is ticking away and the clear-cuts are growing," says Jon Andersson.

The Swedish Forest Agency, which is a supervisory authority in this case, has pointed out in a message to Protect the Forest that the applications for logging affects forest in the near mountain region. This means that all the areas planned for logging will be visited in the field before a notification about permission to carry out logging will be announced to the landowner Vilhelmina Övre Allmänningsskog.

Read the letter/report from Protect the Forest to the Swedish Forest Agency, the County Administrative Board and Sweden Environmental Protection Agency (in Swedish). 

Read Protect the Forest’s report ”Forestry at the edge” (2018) about the investigated forests at Dikasnäs.

Jon Andersson, Protect the Forest,, +4673-037 52 74

The probable result after a logging at Dikasjön. Photo/montage: Jon Andersson.