Piles of logged wood from a felled forest in Estonia. Photo: Karl Adami.

The environmental NGO Estonian Forest Aid is critical against the forest company Stora Enso's forest logging in Estonia.  In a letter, they urge Stora Enso to shift to contemporary forest management practices in accordance to biodiversity and climate goals which also show consideration to birds' nesting season and local people. After being in contact with Stora Enso, its Estonian subsidiary has responded that the company is open for a dialogue regarding a specific case of Märjamaa forest-park. 

Read Estonian Forest Aid's letter on Stora Enso's destructive forestry here:

Recently, Stora Enso Oy has demostranted some rather dubious practices in Estonia. Namely, forest management schemes deployed by Stora Enso make the company an investment choice that is as far from sustainable and responsable as could be.

We are concerned about forests in Estonia. The way Stora Enso is doing business in this country is destroying our forests, wildlife and local communities. Estonia is a much poorer country than Sweden or Finland and the export of huge quantities of timber is often the easiest business for many here, albeit very doubtful in the ethical and environmental aspects.

Forests are vital to combating climate change. They help regulate the Earth’s climate by drawing carbon from the atmosphere. They store nearly 300 billion tonnes of carbon in their leaves, branches and other living parts. If we do not end forest destruction, we have no chance of avoiding climate breakdown and the extinction crisis.

But it doesn’t look like companies have noticed we are in a climate emergency. They are carrying on with business as usual, and like to promote their own ‘green’ image to improve their brand. Loss of biodiversity is just as catastrophic as climate change.

Estonian legislative acts, including the Forestry Act allow practically endless clearing of forests. What is more, the EU environmental legislation is not really being enforced in Estonia.

We urge Stora Enso Estonian subsidiary to shift to contemporary forest management practices in accordance with the FSC (FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world's forests), Århus convention, climate and biodiversity goals. (Comment from Protect the Forest; The FSC has large flaws in Sweden).

For example, Stora Enso is pretending to include local people in Märjamaa, Estonia about the forest cutting next to people’s homes and singing field (important place for local public events). Märjamaa is my childhood home and my parents still live there. The forest is an important barrier against noise, pollution and dust of big Tallinn-Pärnu road. Local and other Estonian people have signed a petition to stop the plan.

Right now, countless birds are nesting. The environmental NGO’s in Estonia find that there shoud be the peace for birds in forests till the end of August. Otherwise, the birds’ offspring will die. The same can happen for young animals. Scientists warn that birds are diminishing: according to Aveliina Helm, Senior Research Fellow in Botany at University of Tartu, "57 000 – 111 000 pairs will vanish every year in Estonia".

And now Stora Enso is planning to start clearing the forest on 16 June 2020.

We are extremely concerned about the practice of timber industry including Stora Enso in Estonia who puts profits before people, destroying our living and natural environment and local communities. We thus urge you to help to stop the ongoing destruction of Estonian forests by the Estonian subsidiary of Stora Enso.

With hope,
Riina Georg and Aivar Georg, members of non-profit environmental organisations "Estonian Forest Aid" and "Roheline Pärnumaa", Estonia,                      Tiina Georg, Member of Board, Estonian Forest Aid, Estonia
Tiiu-Liia Knaps, resident of Märjamaa, Estonia,
Udo Knaps, resident of Märjamaa, Estonia

Extinction Rebellion protester in the forest-park Märjamaa. Photo: Mari Laanesaar.

The bank vole (Myodes glareolus) lives in woodland areas in Estonia, such as decidious and mixed forests as well as coniferous forests. Photo: Karl Adami.

Old dead tree in Maskaure Sami village. Photo: Björn Mildh.

Kristina Bäck from Protect the Forest is the author of the following blog article which has been published on Global Forest Coalition's website.

Blog article: Indigenous Sami under threat from logging in Sweden

Sweden’s state-owned forestry company Sveaskog have announced that they will sell another 10,400 hectares of forest, more than 2,000 hectares of which are reindeer grazing forests around Maskaure, a Sami village in Arjeplog municipality. The company is also planning to log 32 natural reindeer grazing forests in the same area, totaling 400 hectares. Together with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, the Sami of Maskaure are trying to stop these plans.

Read the full blog article here.

The Global Forest Coalition (GFC) is an international coalition of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations defending social justice and the rights of forest peoples in forest policies.

Read more about Global Forest Coalition here.

More than 100 social leaders from across Colombia have already been assassinated in 2020. Between March 19 and 20, 2020, in the course of 24 hours, three social leaders in Colombia were murdered.

One of the victims were Ivo Humberto Bracamonte Quiroz, the social leader of Norte de Santander Department near the Venezuelan border. In another attack, Ángel Ovidio Quintero, a young social leader of Antioquia, was killed. Marco Rivadeneira was a social leader of Putumayo and worked for over 15 years as a leader of peasant and social organizations in Colomibia. He was participating in a meeting with peasant leaders when armed men barged into the meeting and forced Marcos to leave with them. He was later assassinated.

More than 100 social leaders from across Colombia have already been assassinated in 2020. Since the peace agreements between the National Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia were signed in 2016, over 800 social leaders and human rights defenders have been assassinated in what organizations deem a genocide.

Protect the Forest condemns the murders of the three social leaders in Colombia.

“Our thoughts go to the victims, their families and the environmental and social movements that have lost three dedicated leaders,” said Elin Götmark, spokesperson, Protect the Forest.

Read a joint statement from Comité Colombia, Foro Social Panamazónico, on Censat Agua Viva - Friends of the Earth Colombia's website regarding the death of Marco Rivadeneira here (in Spanish).

Protecting forests is essential to safeguard biodiversity and mitigate climate change, writes Protect the Forest in its feedback on EU's 2030 Climate Target Plan.

Protect the Forest has given feedback on EU's 2030 Climate Target Plan.

Read the full feedback from Protect the Forest here:

There is a climate and biodiversity crisis in the world, and a catastrophic future lies ahead. Both crises are intertwined. Protecting and restoring forests is essential. Natural forests store large amounts of carbon. If they are cut down, carbon is released to the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide emissions from bioenergy are considered as zero emissions. However, bioenergy is not carbon-neutral. The burning of bioenergy emits carbon dioxide immediately which contributes to the greenhouse effect just like fossil fuels. The atmosphere does not differentiate between different sources of carbon. It takes many years to compensate for these carbon emissions: in a 50-100 year perspective, biofuels can even have larger climate impact than fossil fuels.

In order to mitigate climate change, everything possible should be done to prevent carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. The use of both bioenergy and fossil fuels need to be reduced. The purported climate benefits of biofuels need to be re-evaluated urgently.

By decreasing harvest rates and protecting older natural forests, carbon will continue to be absorbed and stored in the soil. Emissions from forest harvesting are not fully accounted for in greenhouse gas emission inventory reports. Instead, harvested wood products, which include paper products and wood used for energy, are considered as carbon dioxide removals. The concept of replacing natural forests with plantations and harvested wood products to create sinks and mitigate climate change is false, as it fails to account for the carbon lost from the destroyed natural forest and when wood is used for energy.

The urgency needs to be acknowledged. According to IPCC, the net emissions of greenhouse gases need to decrease with about 50 % globally by 2030 in order to avoid a global mean temperature increase of 1,5 C above pre-industrial levels. It generally takes 50-100 years for felled trees in the boreal region to grow back and re-absorb the emitted carbon dioxide. In e.g. Sweden, about 80 % of the annual harvest is used for bioenergy, paper and other short-lived products, which increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for decades. If the increase of carbon to the atmosphere continues and the temperature increases with more than 2-3 degrees C as compared to-pre industrial levels, there is a major risk that climate tipping points will be reached where changes can become uncontrolled and practically irreversible.

Climate policy measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

• Protect at least 30 % of the forest land in the EU. The forests should be ecologically representative and well connected.
• Prioritize and incentivize protection of all remaining primary and natural forests including peat-land forests. All forest biotopes under the EU Habitats Directive must have a favorable conservation status in the EU.
• Re-direct EU subsidies for cutting and burning wood to protecting and restoring natural forests.
• Restore wetlands on drained peat-lands, since they emit a lot of greenhouse gases.
• Implement full accounting of the full climate impact of biofuels.
• Harvested wood products (HWPs) should not be considered as carbon sinks - it risks leading to increased harvesting rates without accounting for the emissions caused by the forest felling.
• Support and promote the use of nature-oriented and continuous cover forestry to decrease the release of greenhouse gases from soil. However, high conservation value forests should be exempted from forestry, not felled.
• Promote natural regeneration and favor mixed forests with a greater proportion of deciduous trees.
• Produce less short-lived forest products since these require a lot of energy to produce and release carbon to the atmosphere rapidly. Prioritize long-lived products instead.
• Reduce the energy consumption and reduce the consumption of paper, forest products and other natural resources. Promote energy efficiency and recycling.

See references in the attachment here.

The full feedback on EU's 2030 Climate Target Plan can also be read here.

The Panamazónico Social Forum (FOSPA) will be held in the city of Mocoa, Colombia, on the 13-16th of November 2020. It was supposed to be held on the 22-25th of March 2020 but is postponed till November due to COVID-19. Mocoa is located in the Amazon rainforest region of Colombia.

In March 2017, a large landslide caused by rains overflowed the Mocoa River and its tributaries Sangoyaco and Mulatos. The tragedy killed 254 people.

Several organizations from 9 countries of the Amazon and over 1800 people are registered to participate in FOSPA 2020. Some current initiatives in FOSPA are: River defense articulation, climate change and the Amazon, report on the panamazonic conflicts, defense of body and territory of the Andean Amazonian women, intercultural education, food security and sovereignty, companies and human rights in Panamazónia, as well as democratization of communication for good living.

Villages, communities, processes and a comprehensiveness of social actors who inhabit the Andean Amazon, as well as those who hold the territory important and are socially committed to action, investigation, oversight and analysis, are invited to participate in Forum, where work is interweaven in recognizing diversities. Everyone is invited to be an active part of the Social Forum Panamazónic, to strengthening initiatives for the defense and survival in Amazonian territories.

By the life, We defend the Amazon!

If you want to learn more about Panamazónico Social Forum, watch this on YouTube.

Read more about the Panamazónico Social Forum here.