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We can’t afford to lose any more natural forests with high conservation values. Photo: Annette Seldén /N

Stop all logging in forests with high conservation values, reduce Sveaskog’s profit returns, phase out clear-cuttings and increase the budget for the protection of forests. These are some of the requirements that NGOs and scientists call for in an appeal to members of the Swedish government, to EU parliamentarians and ministers in a wish-list for Christmas.

The NGOs and scientists demand that the politicians act because according to international reports from IPBES and IPCC, we must urgently reduce the pressure on nature and save biodiversity. More forests need protection and a system change is needed in our ways of carrying out forestry. The NGOs and scientists write:

”We are several organizations and scientists who are worried about that our last natural unprotected forests will be logged and we are therefore handing over an appeal to politicians, as a wish-list for Christmas. On the 16 December the Swedish parliament will debate the budget for general environmental and conservation issues for 2020. It is of utter importance that the budget is increased for protection of forests in the coming years”.

 

Gijmiesgielas, an old natural forest in the reindeer grazing lands of Maskaure Sami village.
Sveaskog has already built a road through the forest. Photo: Björn Mildh

In the letter (in Swedish) with the appeal  there is a list attached with examples of threatened natural forests with high conservation values, which are going to be logged, two are already logged now. The remaining forests need urgent protection. At least 17-20 percent of all ecologically representative and well-connected land areas have to be protected by 2020, according to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). Today only 6 percent of the productive forest has long-term protection in Sweden. In the appeal it is clear that there is no time left, and therefore we cannot afford to lose more valuable natural forest in Sweden. The politicians have to put their foot down. Julian Klein, spokesperson in Protect the Forest says: 

”For decades a united international body of researchers have been warning the world about the consequences of fossil fuels, long before the first politicians dared implement some modest measures. Now again, a united international body of researchers are warning the world about the on-going degradation of biodiversity, which is threatening human survival. Fast and decisive action has to be taken, not just some modest measures!”

About 45 000 individuals and 23 organizations have previously requested protection of all of Sveaskog’s natural forests with high conservation values in the campaign Vår skog (Our Forest). The campaign took place during the beginning of 2019 and a petition with requests about changes was handed over to the Minister of Enterprise and Energy, Ibrahim Baylan, but since then nothing has happened.

The natural forest planned for logging in Bientie in the county of Norrbotten, which is an important reindeer grazing forest.
Several threatened species have been found in the forest, according to an inventory. Photo: Björn Mildh.

The natural forest planned for logging in Bientie in the county of Norrbotten, which is an important reindeer grazing forest. Several threatened species have been found in the forest, according to an inventory done by the organization Nature and Youth. Photo: Björn Mildh.

The NGOs and the researchers write that to stop the on-going degradation of biodiversity of forests the situation demands that:

Forestry is stopped in all forests with high conservation values in Sweden.
The state-owned forestry company Sveaskog is given new directives with lowered profit returns to be able to fulfill the environmental target concerning forests.
The budget for protection of Swedish forests is increased to 5 billion SEK per year, starting during this election period until all forests with high conservation values are protected in a long-term, sustainable and transparent way and are ecologically integrated in a wider landscape.
Clear-cutting forestry is phased out and replaced by forestry without clear-cutting methods in forests without high conservation values.

Sveaskog is planning to log the 200-year old pineforest at Melakträskliden in Arvidsjaur’s municipality. Photo: Björn Mildh.

In total, 28 representatives from 26 organizations, a Sami village and 13 researchers have signed the appeal. Organizations such as Climate Action Sweden, Fridays for Future, Nature and Youth Sweden, local groups from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), The Rights of Nature and End Ecocide Sweden have signed the letter to the politicians. Protect the Forest has taken the initiative to this appeal and have also written a debate article about it.