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

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).

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:

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
A clear-cut at Abmobäcken may disturb the ecosystem of the small lakes. Photo: Jonas Nordenström

The state-owned forestry company Sveaskog, is going to log several natural forests with high conservation values in the county of Västerbotten, near Sorsele. There are two planned loggings of 20 and 21 hectares in a wetland near Abmobäcken 15 kilometres south of Sorsele. There are several planned loggings, totally 45 hectares, at Stormyran 15 kilometres east of Sorsele. At Abmoberg, 15 kilometres south of Sorsele Sveaskog has already logged 11,5 hectares of old natural forest, in spite of protests from several NGOs.

The area which is planned to be logged near Abmobäcken consists of natural pine forest with myres, wetlands, small islands and ridges which are important environments for birds and amphibians. Erland Lindblad and Jonas Nordenström from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) in Sorsele have visited the forest and sent a letter to Sveaskog. They write:
”The varied landscape is divided into small to very small forest areas which make us wonder whether it will be possible for Sveaskog to leave sufficient zones of forest along the edges of the water. Logging the forest will most probably seriously disturb the water balance and even the small lakes’ ecosystem. We suggest that Sveaskog stops the planned clear-cuttings and instead take the necessary measures to conserve this valuable area.”

It is important to save zones of forest along the edges of water because the zones provide protection against some of the negative effects caused by clear-cuts. According to the forestry law protective zones of forest should always remain along water. But there are many examples of companies ignoring this, here is one such example.

A field visit was carried out by SSNC in the beginning of August. 19 species which are of conservation interest were found, 12 of these species are red-listed, such as the fungi Antrodia albobrunnea (VU) and Cinereomyces lenis (VU). These fungi live on wood often in untouched pine forests with high conservation values where there is a long continuity of course woody debris from pine in several stages of degradation. In many places in the forest there are old spruce trees with the fungus Pseudographis pinicola (NT).
Pseudographis pinicola is dependent on a high level of humidity in old and undisturbed forests. If the trees are clear-cut, the whole environment around them will change and these species will disappear. In the area there is also capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), grouse (Tetrastes bonasia) and whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus). Three birds which are prioritized species according to the forest law.

In the wetlands and natural forest complex of Stormyran – Holmmyran – Ardnasåjvvie, 15 kilometres east of Sorsele, there are four planned loggings. These areas consist of old spruce forest which is surrounded by myres. In the letter to Sveaskog SSNC writes:
”In 2017 we noted that the red-listed fungi Antrodia infirma (EN) exists in the area. This fungi is bound to old-growth spruce forest. A recommendation from The Swedish Species Information Centre is that old forests with Antrodia infirma should be excluded from forestry and left undisturbed for free development.”

Sveaskog will log the forest where the fungus Skeletocutis lilacina (VU) is. Photo: Erland Lindblad

In spite of this, 45 hectares are still planned for logging where the red-listed species are. In the beginning of August members from SSNC visited the area. They found the purple coloured fungus Skeletocutis lilacina (VU) growing on course woody debris of a spruce. In the letter to Sveaskog, they write that this rare fungus has only been noted six times in Sweden previously. The findings of Skeletocutis lilacina and of Skeletocutis chrysella (VU) in both the middle and northern part of the forest indicate that the whole area is of importance in a landscape perspective and should not be logged. Erland Lindblad states:
“Although the fungus Skeletocutis chrysella is growing in several places in the forest, and not to speak of Skeletocutis lilacina- a fungus which hardly has been found in Sweden before, the Swedish Forest Agency answers:
‘Sveaskog has already planned to leave enough consideration by following the forestry law. What we can do is see if we can re-prioritize some of the area but we cannot ask for more beyond that.’”

There is a rich occurrence of traces of the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) (NT). Photo: Erland Lindblad

SSNC emphasizes that there is a rich occurrence of traces on the trees from the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) (NT). According to SSNC more clear-cuts will fragment the forest and in doing so damage the long-term survival of the woodpecker.
”We suggest that Sveaskog drops the logging plans and takes the necessary measures so that these valuable forests are conserved for the future”
There is a large unfragmented natural forest at Abmoberget, 15 kilometres south of Sorsele. Now Sveaskog has clear-cut 11.5 hectars in the northern part of Abmoberg although several environmental NGOs have requested Sveaskog not to log this forest or other parts of Abmoberg. There are now several planned clear-cuts there. Erland Lindblad says:
”It is so sad that they can’t even let the last unfragmented forests be untouched.”

Clear-cut in the northern part of Abmoberg. Photo: Erland Lindblad

Abmoberg is one of the last large unfragmented forests in Västerbotten below the mountain forest region. From north to south one can walk 8 kilometres through unbroken forest with myres, small lakes and sub-alpine terrain. The forest has no impact from modern forestry and parts of it can be considered as old-growth forest. The oldest pine is 420 years and the oldest spruce is 497 years. East, west, south and now even north of Abmoberg there are large clear-cut areas.