Last week an international forest conference, PRIFOR 2010, was held in Sundsvall, Sweden. The conference gathered around 200 forest scientists to contribute with scientific strategies to prevent the ongoing degradation of northern natural forests. The scientists state that saving biodiversity requires protection of more old-growth forests, at the same time as environmental consideration in managed forests must be enhanced.

“We’ll have to stop logging the last natural forests at some point. Why not stop now?” said Professor George Peterken, Nottingham University, United Kingdom. “These forest remnants are important to us humans. They can let us understand what the forests have looked like in an historical perspective.”

Professor Bengt Gunnar Jonsson, Mid Sweden University, is the initiator of the conference. He is also one of more than 200 scientists who have signed Protect the Forest’s appeal “Protect Sweden’s Old-Growth Forests”. The appeal is addressed to the Swedish parliament and government, demanding protection for all remaining old-growth forests.

“The situation is urgent. Look at the Red List of threatened species in the forest, it hasn’t exactly become shorter,” said Professor Bengt Gunnar Jonsson. “To improve the state of the forest, the gap between science and forest management must be reduced.”

During the conference, Professor Ilka Hanski from the University of Helsinki, gave a lecture on the importance of preserving the remnants of old-growth forests in northern Europe. Besides their significance for biodiversity, the old-growth forests play an important role in climate mitigation.

Protect the Forest argue that the Swedish politicians need to embrace the scientists’ message, and ensure the cease that all logging operations are halted in remaining unprotected old-growth forests. The organization claims that Sweden will otherwise not be able to live up to the international Convention on Biological Diversity, or achieve the parliament’s environmental objectives.

“There is no time to lose,” said Josefine Gustafsson from Protect the Forest. “Since leading scientists from many countries share this opinion, it should provide our politicians with a solid basis to act now.”

Contact:

Josefine Gustafsson, Protect the Forest, +46 (0)73 – 664 17 44

Daniel Rutschman, Secretary, Protect the Forest, +46 (0)76 – 112 88 26