Lime quarry threatens unique forest

The Ojnare forest. Photo: Robert Svensson/Protect the Forest.

The Ojnare forest on Gotland, in the Baltic Sea, consists of centuries-old pines growing over the limestone that characterizes the island. It is a unique and varied area that includes many wetlands. But now, the company Nordkalk wants to quarry the land for its lime.  

Both the white-tailed eagle and the golden eagle make their nests here, and the area is rich in species that depend on this distinctive environment.

The Ojnare forest should be protected on many counts:

It is important for securing the water supply; it contains so-called key woodland habitats; it lies next to two Natura 2000 areas which are protected at the EU level; it has been officially declared as important on the national level for both its natural and cultural values; there are plans to make it a national park; it contains 265 species that are on the red list of endangered species in Sweden; and it contains 3 endemic species (which exist nowhere else in the world).

"Sweden has both national and international commitments when it comes to endangered species. To let Nordkalk make a 170-hectare hole in the middle of this sensitive area would go counter to the EU's Habitat Directive as well as our national goal to secure the environmental health of the forest. Nothing seems holy any more. The government is even changing the law to fit the industry's requirements," says Robert Svensson, secretary of Protect the Forest.

In 2007, the government removed the environmental law paragraph forbidding quarries in areas with rare or endangered species. This was the only paragraph hindering the quarry that was absolute and had no loopholes. .

"Since 2006, the government's politics has become more and more anti-environmental. If the Ojnare forest is cut down, it will go down in history as one of the greatest environmental crimes in Sweden this century. We demand an immediate stop to Nordkalk's preliminary work on the quarry," says Viktor Säfve, chairman of Protect the Forest.

The only defense that this unique area has left since the government has turned its back is an appeal from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, a group of protesters from Nature and Youth Sweden, and the local organization Friends of Ojnare Forest. Representatives from Protect the Forest have now joined the fight in Ojnare.

"That Mellanskog, who claim they conduct sustainable forestry, is willing to take Nordkalk's money to cut down such valuable natural forest is unbelievable. That is why I am here to protest, and to urge everyone who can do something to act," says Jonas Idewall Hagren, member of Protect the Forest.

Robert Svensson, Selina Vogt and Jonas Idewall Hagren, Protect the Forest, now at the threatened Ojnare forest. Photo: Protect the Forest, Sweden



Robert Svensson, secretary of Protect the Forest, +0046761357600 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jonas Idewall Hagren, member of Protect the Forest +0046735707021

Viktor Säfve, chairman of Protect the Forest +0046761148811 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Apollo butterfly, one of the threatened species in the Ojnare forest. Photo: Robert Svensson, Protect the Forest.


Photo: Olli Manninen/Protect the Forest

The organization Protect the Forest welcomes the extensive report released today by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), Sweden's oldest and largest environmental organization. The report is titled "Under the Cover of the Swedish Forestry Model" and looks deep into the myth about the "environmentally friendly forest products" and the "sustainable Swedish Forestry Model", which is marketed worldwide. The report is addressed to international customers and decision-makers.

"Sweden's good reputation for conducting sustainable forestry is strongly undeserved. Swedish companies market FSC-certified products as environmentally friendly, while reality proves the opposite", says Daniel Rutschman, secretary of Protect the Forest. "The customers are being deceived. These Swedish forest products they buy often come from companies logging forests with high conservation values and replacing natural forests with monoculture plantations".

Sweden has adopted environmental objectives and signed international agreements stating that all native species must be able to survive in long-term viable populations and that a living forest landscape shall be preserved. Sweden has signed an international agreement in Nagoya which establishes that at least 17 percent of each land based ecosystem must be protected until the year 2020. This corresponds to the demands of an appeal initiated by Protect the Forest, which argues that at least 20 percent of the productive forest land must be protected. The appeal has been signed by leading scientists and more than 40 environmental organizations worldwide with a total of several million members. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation has the same demand in their report, which shows that neither the forest owners or the government are doing what is necessary to realize these goals.

"Politicians and representatives of the forest industry claim that forest protection and environmental consideration can be handled by the companies themselves, under the motto "freedom with responsibility", something which is not working at all", says Viktor Säfve, chairperson of Protect the Forest. "Years of systematic violations of the certification rules and increasing failure to comply with the Swedish Forestry Act have shown that improved legislation, consumer power and legal protection are the only things that can help. As it is today in Sweden, you can freely destroy streams by driving heavy forest machines through them and clear-fell natural forests, without any risk of sanctions".

About 2000 species are listed on the national Red List of species risking extinction in Sweden. Many of these species are on the Red List because their natural habitats are shrinking, largely because of forestry. Only a few percent of old natural forests remain in Sweden. These forests make up a considerable amount of the last remaining old-growth forests in Western Europe, forests which must be preserved according to leading scientists. Despite these facts, the SSNC-report states that natural forests are still systematically being logged by FSC-certified companies.

"Consumer countries should put pressure on the Swedish forest companies, and the EU and UN should demand that the Swedish government live up to the UN-treaties and follow EU-legislation concerning water, species and habitat. The government must present the tools needed to realize Sweden's environmental objectives", says Viktor Säfve. "Today important parts of Europe's natural heritage are being destroyed, and sold with false marketing as environmentally friendly products under the FSC-trademark".


Read the SSNC's report "Under the Cover of the Swedish Forestry Model"

Read the SSNC press release here "Biodiversity Crisis in Swedish Forests":



Viktor Säfve, chairperson, Protect the Forest +46 (0)76-1148811, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Daniel Rutschman, secretary, Protect the Forest +46 (0)72-1765344, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Press photo: FSC-certified forestry by Stora Enso in Örebro County, Sweden.

Photo: Olli Manninen/Protect the Forest

Download the photo here

Recommended reading about Swedish forests:

Protect the Forests report about climate and boreal forest

SSNC report "Cutting the edge" (2010)

Greenpeace report on FSC

Scientists' Appeal "Protect Sweden's Old-Growth Forests"