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Press release, October 17, 2017
The clear-cut forest at Brännvinsberget where 40 red-listed and indicator species were found, before it was logged. Photo: Sebastian Kirppu.

The Swedish state-owned forest company Sveaskog has recently logged a valuable natural forest at Brännvinsberget in the municipality of Rättvik in the county of Dalarna in Sweden where 40 different red-listed and indicator species were found.

“It was definitely an area worth protecting, something we already stated in 2013. Despite our consultation with Sveaskog as well as visiting the site together with them, the forest was logged," said Margareta Wikström, chairperson of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in Rättvik. 

Since 2014, the recently logged forest at Brännvinsberget was part of an ongoing FSC complaints process. However, Sveaskog did not notify the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation prior to the felling.

“We are shocked. No one would ever think that a FSC certified company would log such a biologically valuable forest. This is definitely not a question of a so-called mistake,” said Margareta Wikström.

Sveaskog has also logged and recently notified many other high conservation value forests for final felling in Rättvik. This is shown in the inventory report "Logging continues“ (2017). The report states that Sveaskog has logged more than half of about 800 hectares of valuable forest in Brännvinsberget since 2011-2012, despite being aware of the natural values of the area. 

”The image of Sveaskog as a company caring for nature is on the verge of being completely wrecked. Its forestry violates the environmental certification label FSC and the environmental objectives of the Swedish Parliament.”

"The owner directives of Sveaskog must change and our politicians need to put their foot down. Sweden should be a role model and Sveaskog must protect all high conservation value forests. All serious politicians must stand up for these demands. The forestry economists should not be the ones to decide how the forestry should be conducted. A simple decision by the government can significantly increase the environmental considerations in Ore Forest Landscape, without extra costs in the budget," said Margareta Wikström.

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation hopes for a possibility to reach a quick conclusion because Sveaskog is the main land owner in the area. The WWF chose the Ore Forest Landscape to be one of Sweden’s Natural Pearls in 2015 due to its very valuable and beautiful nature. It is a unique forest landscape in Sweden and Western Europe with natural pine forest. Its natural values have been documented in about ten different inventory reports.

The inventory report "Logging continues - A report from Ore Forest Landscape 2017 with an analysis of the nature conservation ambitions of Sveaskog” is written by Sebastian Kirppu, Helena Björnström and Bengt Oldhammer. The inventories were carried out during the summer and autumn of 2017 on behalf of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in Rättvik. The report is a follow-up of the report "Ore Skogsrike - A living forest landscape in the municipality of Rättvik. Inventories of valuable forests conducted in 2011-2013" (2013; only available in Swedish).

For more information

Margareta Wikström, +46 70 668 71 46, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sebastian Kirppu +46 70 308 19 84, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bengt Oldhammer +46 70 334 33 82, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wally Menne passed away in South Africa on Thursday 26 October 2017.

Wally worked for Timberwatch, an organization which monitors the impacts of the timber industry, and he was one of Protect the Forest's most dedicated and supportive working partners on global issues. He helped us write an open letter to the CBD Secretariat in order to change the FAO definition of forests, and together we tried to stop the coal power plant Rampal in Bangladesh and we protested against the Swedish Energy Agency's tree plantations in Kachung in Uganda.

This was Wally – extremely dedicated and hard working, passionate about saving planet Earth from corrupt global governments, capitalism and wasteful overconsumption. He was always there to give wise advice or to edit articles (he mastered words very well). Wally engaged in advocacy and activism, both internationally and locally, especially to help prevent the negative social and ecological impacts of monoculture tree plantations. He tirelessly worked to change the FAO definition of forests, always stressing that plantations are not forests.

In the beginning of 2017, Wally started a blog in order to help end the misinformation and confusion regarding FAO's forest definition (which does not make a clear distinction between forests and tree plantations).

The passing of Wally is a tremendous loss – the world has lost a committed and irreplaceable soul. Wally was a true source of both inspiration and courage. We will miss you, Wally. Our deepest condolences to Wally's family.

Wally Menne's own words in a Global Forest Coalition email in January 2017:

"If anything, most governments promote environmentally harmful land-use activities and resource mismanagement that will inevitably result in the systemic degradation of ecosystems and the landscape, on a one-way dead-end track to species loss and desertification. Whether from clear cut logging, mining, industrial tree plantations, large-scale factory-farming of livestock for meat and dairy production, these types of activities are taking us all down the slippery slope to an ecological disaster.

The escalating global trend towards large-scale industrial crop and commodity production which demands the obliteration of vast areas of natural vegetation, especially grasslands, together with the self-sustaining local communities that they support, seems to be unstoppable, driven by the rabid madness of capitalist accumulation and control. The current 'un-economic' system is dependent upon an on-going and unsustainable increase in global human numbers, accompanied by the mindless over-consumption of the elite, which together provide the inflated demand for the market commodities that the corporate sector needs in order to produce and to sell, more and more disposable junk to its victims.

Another major driver of this problem is the move by so-called 'developed' countries in the global North to avoid committing to the most obvious of genuine climate change solutions, i.e. reducing emissions at source. Instead they have come up with a number of patently false proposals, including the burning of forest biomass to generate electricity, establishing destructive tree plantations in other peoples countries as 'carbon sinks', creating imaginary 'carbon credits' to trade in fictitious emission reduction markets, and of course converting millions of hectares of tropical forest into Oil Palm biodiesel plantations, so that motorists in the EU won't have to cut down on their holiday trips and weekend joy rides.

Here in South Africa there are plans by the sugar industry to convert hundreds of thousands of hectares of community land into industrial sugar cane plantations for ethanol fuel production, thereby creating vast toxic 'green deserts'. As usual the main objective of the exercise will be making short-term profits for their shareholders, while the environmental and social costs will be passed on to already poor rural communities and future generations."

The Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs, Sven-Erik Bucht, forestry researchers and timber industry representatives was visiting Brazil this week to promote the so-called ‘sustainable’ Swedish model of forestry and their vision of bio-economy. However, according to leading environmental scientists and the Swedish environmental movement, the Swedish model of forestry is far from sustainable. The Swedish organization Protect the Forest warns Brazil that an adoption of (or inspiration from) the Swedish model of forestry risk having detrimental consequences for the climate and biodiversity due to its principal concept of clear-cutting natural forests and replacing them with artificial monoculture plantations and young industrial tree stands with only one or two tree species. Brazil is already losing large areas to deforestation and illegal logging, the Swedish forestry model is not the solution to these problems.

Read the whole document here.

 

 

Press release, 17th of October 2017
 
In an open letter, Swedish environmental NGOs urge Members of the European Parliament to account for the full emissions and environmental impacts of biofuels in the Renewable Energy Directive. The current proposal leads to increased harvests as trees from natural forests are burned as biofuel. Instead of decreasing the global emissions of the greenhouse gases, they will increase.
 
Next week, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee will vote on the EU Renewable Energy Directive. The intention of the Directive is to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. However, the Swedish NGOs demand radical improvements in the regulation on biofuels. They ask the MEPs not to be misled by the Swedish and Finnish forest industries which are strong lobbyists. In their open letter, they write:
 
"In Sweden, natural and semi-natural forests are systematically clear-cut and replaced by even-aged conifer tree plantations, poor of species, to acquire alleged sustainable wood products and bioenergy. Still, Sweden promotes itself as a leader when it comes to sustainable forestry and bioeconomy. The Swedish and Finnish Forest Industries are strong lobbyists and use the climate as a pretext to increase their forest harvest, production and economic rates."
 
The letter contains demands for an improved Directive. For example, the NGOs want to phase out food-based biofuels like palm oil, soya and rapeseed by 2030. According to Transport & Environment (2017), emissions from these vegetable oils are usually higher than from fossil fuels. Additionally, the cultivation of biofuels requires large areas of land. For example, rainforest is cut down in order to cultivate oil palms and soya. As a consequence, greenhouse gas emissions increase when forests, which sequester carbon, are harvested, while valuable habitats for animals and plants disappear.
 
The NGOs urge the MEPs to account for the indirect emissions from land use in the greenhouse gas calculations of biofuels. They also encourage the MEPs to support incentives for renewable electrification of transport, principally powered by solar. Moreover, they support no other forest product than forest residues and waste for bioenergy, stating that inefficient electricity production from biomass should not be supported.
 
The following Swedish NGOs have signed the open letter to the Members of the European Parliament: Protect the Forest, Climate Action Sweden, Friends of the Earth Sweden, and PUSH Sweden.
 
The open letter can be read here:

Contact:
Kristina Bäck, Spokesperson, Protect the Forest, +46 (0)70 443 28 19
Jonas Bane, Spokesperson, Climate Action Sweden, +46 (0)70 736 69 32

 Foto:  Achmad Rabin Taim from Jakarta, Indonesia via Wikimedia Commons.

PRESS RELASE, September 26, 2017

Today, Swedish NGOs write an open letter to the EU Environmental Council to express their concern regarding the proposed LULUCF regulation which they say risks having detrimental and long-term effects on both climate and biodiversity. The proposal, which favors an active forestry and supports a decrease of the EU forest sink, is strongly lobbied by Swedish and Finnish Forest Industries, and the NGOs warn the EU decision-makers not to be misled by production interests.

Sweden promotes itself as a leader when it comes to sustainable forestry and bioeconomy. The Swedish and Finnish Forest Industries are strong lobbyists and use the climate as a pretext to increase their forest harvest, production and economic rates, according to the NGOs. By endorsing a so-called bioeconomy, natural forests are systematically clear-cut and replaced by even-aged tree plantations, poor of species, to acquire alleged sustainable wood products and bioenergy.

“The planetary boundaries for climate and biodiversity are already exceeded and catastrophic consequences are ahead if stringent climate mitigation measures are not urgently taken. Sweden can be used as a world-wide example of how harmful clear-cutting methods are used to destroy natural forests in the name of sustainability. Not only that, these harvest methods also increase the emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce the carbon sink, and that is something the LULUCF regulation definitely not should not favor,” said Ahmed Al-Qassam, President of PUSH Sweden.

The NGOs urge the Environmental Council to introduce clear incentives to stop deforestation as well as to ensure policy coherence in relation to the Habitats and Bird Directives, especially when it comes to afforestation, reforestation and restoration of degraded forest lands. Increased harvesting which reduces the forest carbon sink needs to be discouraged and we need economic incentives to climate-friendly forest use and standing forests.

“We hope that the Environmental Ministers of the EU will make sure that they will not be misled by production-orientated claims from the Forest Industries. Climate change and loss of biodiversity are major global challenges. It is very important that the EU does not legitimize a more intensive forestry. We need functional ecosystems to mitigate to climate change,” said Viktor Säfve, co-founder of the Swedish NGO Protect the Forest.  

The following Swedish NGOs have signed the open letter to the EU Environment Council: Protect the Forest, Friends of the Earth Sweden, Naturarvet, PUSH Sweden and Climate Action Sweden (Klimataktion).

The open letter can be found here.

Contact

Viktor Säfve, International campaigns, co-founder of Protect the Forest, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ahmed Al-Qassam, President, PUSH Sweden,
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,
+46 (0)72-366 11 88