The state-owned forest company Sveaskog logged a 200 year old natural forest with red-listed species at Guorpaliden in Arvidsjaur municipality in Sweden 2017. Photo: Björn Mildh.
Today, 70 organizations from 25 countries and 30 scientists send an open letter to Swedish Ministers, Members of the Swedish Parliament and authorities, demanding that all forests with high conservation values in Sweden should be protected and that clear-cutting forestry is phased out. The signatories write that decision makers need to act now to stop grave threats against the climate and forest biodiversity.
The 70 organizations and the 30 scientists who have signed the open letter stress that Sweden does not achieve its national and international environmental targets. They refer to the EU Habitats Directive, where it is reported that as many as 14 of 15 forest habitats have unfavorable conservation status in Sweden. The loss of habitats is considered to be the major contributing reason to why more than 1,800 forest plant and animal species are red-listed, that is, near threatened or threatened, in the country today.
“Given how critical the situation is for the biodiversity and climate, it is shameful that forests with high natural values still are being logged and are planned for logging in Sweden. The fate of the small last remnants of northwest Europe’s old-growth forests, and all species who depend on it, rests on the politicians of today. Sweden is one of the richest countries in the world and it is beyond our comprehension that we do not take our responsibility towards the rest of the world and act exemplarily by protecting these valuable forests,” said Julian Klein, spokesperson for Protect the Forest.
The Swedish Forest Agency has recently decided that at the end of 2020 it will stop registering woodland key habitats when forest areas are notified for felling. A woodland key habitat is a forest area that is of major importance for the flora and fauna, which often harbors endangered and rare species. According to the Swedish FSC forest certification standard, woodland key habitats must be exempted from felling.
The Swedish Forest Agency has also recently released a report with several measures for intensified forest management. Measures such as increased logging, clearing of ditches and more plantations are promoted instead of preventing biodiversity loss and emissions of greenhouse gases.
“Instead of preventing logging of high conservation value forests in Sweden, the Swedish Forest Agency acts in the opposite direction by making it easier to intensify forest production. This is detrimental to the climate and to biodiversity, both under extreme pressure in this climate crisis,” said Isadora Wronski, Interim Programme Manager, Greenpeace Sweden.
In the open letter, the 70 organizations and the 30 scientists write that the situation demands that:
– Woodland key habitats continue to be registered when forest areas are notified for felling after 2020.
– Forestry is stopped in all high conservation value forests. This includes core areas along with registered and unregistered woodland key habitats. Forests in High Value Forest Landscapes and continuity forests as well as forests with unknown biological values must be visited in the field and inventoried prior to any kind of planned forestry operation. If high conservation values are discovered, these areas should be exempt from forestry.
– The state-owned forestry company Sveaskog is given amended owner directives with a lower required rate of return to be able to achieve the environmental targets regarding sustainable forests and biodiversity.
– The budget allocated to forest protection is increased to 5 billion SEK per year, starting during this Government’s tenure, until all high conservation value forests are protected in a long-term, quality assured and transparent way, with a landscape ecology approach.
– Clear-cutting forestry is phased out and replaced by forestry without clear-cutting methods in forests without high conservation values.
Among the 70 signatories of the open letter are Protect the Forest, Greenpeace Sweden, Friends of the Earth Europe, FERN (EU), Biofuelwatch (United Kingdom/US), Global Forest Coaltion (international), Robin Wood (Germany) och Australian Forests and Climate Alliance (Australia).
Professors, Associate Professors and doctoral candidates are among the 30 scientists (based in Sweden) who have signed the open letter.
Julian Klein, Spokesperson, Protect the Forest Sweden, phone: +46 (0)72 737 42 34, email: jg.klein(@)protonmail.com
Isadora Wronski, Interim Programme Manager, Greenpeace Sweden, phone: +46 (0)70 301 25 34, email: isadora.wronski(@)greenpeace.org
Download the full open letter here.