Four landowners plan to log a forest with high conservation values at Björns Kvarn in Risveden, Ale municipality in the county of Västergötland. The landowners have refused compensation from the County Administrative Board so that a nature reserve can be formed and the Swedish Forestry Agency now approves logging instead. Several red-listed species live in the forest, such as the orchid Goodyera repens (VU), the willow tit (NT), the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker (NT) and the lesser spotted woodpecker (NT). Ideally, the whole Risveden area needs protection because it has high conservation values.

Pictures from the forest, photo: S Kirppu

The logging notification at Björns Kvarn covers 20 hectares and is located in the middle of the area of Risveden, near both the Ekliden and Igelkärr nature reserves. The forest is an important dispersal link for various species between the northern part of Risveden and the southern part. Risveden is one of western Sweden’s largest contiguous forest landscapes of approx. 20,000 hectares with several reserves, key forest biotopes and high conservation values. The County Administrative Board has assessed that it is an important and valuable tract for forest, but despite this logging continues in the area. During 2022 landowners have already felled a forest with high conservation values of 20 hectares at Rörmossen.

Well-used paths in the forest. Photo: S Kirppu

Social and historical values

The forest at Björns Kvarn is important for recreation and popular for hiking and riding. It has cultural and historical values such as hollow-ways and old stone walls. But now the forestry company Vida Skog has marked out the forest, which they do before a felling.

Vida Skog is both FSC-certified and PEFC-certified. If a forest company is FSC certified, they may not cut down so-called key forest biotopes, i.e. forests with high conservation values. Forest biologist Sebastian Kirppu has inventoried the forest that has been notified for felling at Björns Kvarn. He writes in a report to Vida Skog:

“Considering Vida Skog’s high environmental ambitions (according to their website) and the forest’s high biological values, logging should not take place. Here the company should advise the landowner to contact the authorities for long-term protection instead so that the landowner complies with the company’s environmental policy”.

Appealing the Forestry Agency’s decision

The group “Stop clearcutting in Risveden” writes on its Facebook page that a decision has come from the Swedish Forestry Agency that the landowners may cut down the forest at Björns Kvarn, with the exception of certain parts:

“We will appeal the decision as soon as possible. It must be submitted to the Forestry Agency by January 10 at the latest, so there is little time”.

The orchid Goodyera repens is red-listed as vulnerable (VU), and the signal species Pyrola chlorantha, the fungi Arthonia spadicea and the moss Bazzania trilobata that are found in the forest. Photo: S Kirppu

5.1% protected nature in Ale municipality and only 2.7% in Alingsås

At COP 15 in Canada, the UN’s species protection meeting, the countries of the world agreed to protect 30% nature by 2030. If Sweden is to live up to this, they have a long way to go. Risveden is located in the municipalities of Ale and Alingsås, but in 2020 Ale only protected 5.1% of its nature and Alingsås only 2.7%. Sweden can start by giving formal protection to all nature with high conservation values.

Some threatened species in the forest

Here are just a few of the red-listed and protected species in the threatened forest that have been reported to the Swedish Species Information Centre (SLU’s Artfakta) after 2015:

The orchid Goodyera repens: An orchid that is red-listed as vulnerable, VU and protected according to § 8 of the Species Protection Ordinance. Goodyera repens is very sensitive to drying out and wants a semi-shady location in old coniferous forests. The orchid is strongly threatened by forestry measures, writes Nitare (2019). In forestry Goodyera repens requires 50 meter buffer zones so that its habitat is not damaged, according to a dissertation by Samuel Johnson (2014). The Swedish Species Information Centre (Artfakta) writes that premises with Goodyera repens should be excluded from modern forestry. Something that would also benefit other “old-growth forest species” including lichens, mosses and fungi worthy of protection.

The lichen Megalaria pulverea is red-listed as vulnerable, VU. According to the Swedish Species Information Centre (Artfakta) Megalaria pulverea is a suboceanic species and is only known from about 35 locations in the counties of Skåne, Blekinge, Halland, Bohuslän, Dalsland and Västergötland. “Landowners should avoid active forestry in close proximity to these places. It is particularly important not to change the humidity conditions”.

The Eurasian Three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) is red-listed as Near Threatened, NT. It is also a so-called “Priority species in the Swedish Forest Protection Act”, and protected according to §4 of the Species Protection Ordinance. It is very rare in southern Sweden. The future prospects are considered poor for the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker, an important reason is that landowners are increasingly cutting down the forest where it lives.

The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dryobates minor) is red-listed as Near Threatened, NT. Also protected according to §4 of the Species Protection Ordinance and a “Priority species in the Forestry Act”. According to the Swedish Species Information Centre (SLU’s Artfakta) , the felling and thinning of deciduous trees, dead trees and older trees is a threat to the woodpecker: “The lesser woodpecker is also strongly disadvantaged by such landscape care that involves clearing or thinning” and “In some years, even older coarse-branched firs are used for foraging, which is why the cutting of these may disadvantage the species”.

Lesser spotted woodpecker (NT), one of the red-listed species seen in the forest. Photo: Stefan Berndtsson, CC BY 2.0 Creative Commons


The Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) is red-listed as near-threatened NT, and protected according to the Species Protection Ordinance §4. Forestry is the biggest threat and also dense, homogeneous young forests, according to the Swedish Species Information Centre (SLU’s Artfakta). There are also not enough suitable nesting trees for the black woodpecker e.g. old rough pines. Dying trees, such as old dying aspens, are important foraging sites.

The Willow Tit (Poecile montanus) is red-listed as near threatened, NT and is also protected according to the Species Protection Ordinance §4 and is included in the Birds Directive. There are several studies that show that the willow tit is sensitive to thinning of forests and does not survive when landowners cut down its habitat (Swedish Species Information Centre).

Trichocolea tomentella is a moss which indicates high conservation values. Foto: Anna Pielach

The moss Trichocolea tomentella is a so-called signal species which indicates high conservation values in the threatened forest. The Swedish Species Information Centre writes: “The soil moisture and the natural flow of water should be maintained by springs, spring marshes and watercourses in all relevant premises of the species. As the species is sensitive to exposure, trees that give shade should always be left on the premises”.

The moss Scapania degenii is red-listed as vulnerable, VU. The Swedish Species Information Centre writes: “To manage the species’ long-term survival in Sweden, we need to protect more rich marshes from exploitation, ditching, nitrogen impact and overgrowth. In order for the species’ occurrences on cliffs to survive, we should protect wetlands above the cliffs from drainage.

The moss Riccardia multifida is red-listed as vulnerable, VU. The Swedish Species Information Centre writes facts about the fungus: “Continuous decline occurs in combination with the low number of reproductive individuals, which means that the species ends up in the category Vulnerable (VU)”

Dicranodontium denudatum, is a moss which is a signal species. “All occurrences should be given appropriate protection. Interventions that increase exposure must be avoided as well as soil drainage. Ravines and forests where discoveries have been made should not be cut down or thinned”, according to The Swedish Species Information Centre.

The fungi Hydnellum versipelle is redlistade as vulnerable (VU), Photo: Gerhard Koller, Wikipedia Commons

The fungi Hydnellum versipelle is red-listed as vulnerable, VU. It is a rare fungus that grows with spruce in damp depressions or where there is high humidity. According to Swedish Species Information Centre it is disadvantaged: “By forestry which means that older coniferous forests disappear and that tree continuity is broken”. Also becuse “sites where it is found should be excluded from rational forestry”.

The moss Hookeria lucens is red-listed as near threatened, NT. According to the Swedish Species Information Centre, it is extremely sensitive to drying out. They suggest that it is protected by nature reserves, biotope protection areas and/or nature conservation agreements. “The Swedish population of Hookeria lucens is at the margin of the species’ European range. Survival of the moss is dependent on its habitat conditions not changing. Thus, an occurrence can be quickly eliminated by reducing the flow of water in a stream or by felling of trees”.

The fungus Hydnellum aurantiacum is red-listed as near threatened, NT. It will never return if logging takes place in its habitat, according to the Swedish Species Information Centre: “Mainly threatened by forest being felled. The species seems to disappear after landowners do a final clear-cutting.”

Carex pulicaris, NT photo: Anna Pielach

Carex pulicaris is a sedge which is red-listed as near threatened, NT. Facts from the Swedish Species Information Centre: “The species benefits from open forest land, but clear cutting, ditching, land preparation and forest fertilization would probably strongly disadvantage the species”.

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