Environmentally committed citizens have succeeded in stopping construction plans of 130 flats in Solberga Forest south of Stockholm, after appealing to the Land and Environment Supreme Court. The lesser spotted woodpecker, which is included in the Species Protection Ordinance, breeds in the forest. Just before Christmas, the Land and Environment Supreme Court annulled the detailed plan, according to the local newspaper “Mitt i Stockholm”.

The lesser spotted woodpecker (NT). Foto: B Fröberg, CC By 2.0 Wikipedia Commons

The lesser spotted woodpecker is red-listed as “near threatened” (NT) and it is protected according to the Species Protection Ordinance §4. Despite that, the City of Stockholm did not conduct an investigation into how the construction of flats in the Solberga forest would affect the bird’s ability to nest and forage, before the city adopted the detailed plan in February 2021, according to the article in Mitt i Stockholm. The Supreme Court considers that the deficiency is so serious that it stops the project.

This is a big thing for us”

Helge Torstensson, active in the Älvsjö environmental council (Älvsjö miljöråd) who has assisted the Solberga residents who appealed the construction plan, is interviewed in the newspaper Mitt i Stockholm:

– This is such a big thing that we have difficulty taking it in. We already raised the alarm in 2008, when the city cleared forest areas at Västberga cemetery, where the bird was nesting. We have repeatedly said the same thing over and over again, but have not been heard until now.

Nils Hydén, expert on environmental law, comments:

– This is an important judgment from the Land and Environment Supreme Court because it is prejudicial! It is interesting in at least one way: Page 8 paragraph 2 clarifies with reference to the government’s amendment to the Species Protection Ordinance that protection for birds does not only apply to nesting sites and resting places- but also habitats, previous legislation only spoke of the first two. We will take this into account in future cases!

Important nesting site for the lesser spotted woodpecker

Solberga Forest is an important nesting place for the lesser spotted woodpecker and many people have seen it outside the forest as well. This is according to the investigation “Ecological assessment and analysis in Solberga forest – Stockholm City 2021”. The report states that an investigation is necessary for finding out how the construction affects the lesser spotted woodpecker. After the appeal was received, the Land and Environmental Supreme Court overturned the construction plan because the City of Stockholm had not investigated the consequences for smaller woodpeckers.

Solberga forest is a key forest biotope

The Solberga Forest became a key forest biotope (area of forest with high conservation values) in 2008 and consists of pine and deciduous forest. There is a southern slope with oaks and hazel groves, also wetlands and marshes. The forest has ancient remains of special conservation value, among them the Solberga cemetery in the southeast corner of the area.

The Swedish Forestry Agency has found the red-listed wood-living fungi Fistulina hepatica (NT) on several oaks. The Porodaedalea pini (NT) is also found on several of the pines.

Wikipedia writes: “In the central parts of Solberga Forest there is a large deciduous swampy forest and every spring a large number of frogs spawn. The birdlife is rich with documented nestings of lesser spotted woodpeckers (NT), great spotted woodpeckers, jays, starlings (VU) and probably greenfinch (VU).”

Sources: Small woodpecker stops construction plans, Wikipedia, Appeal

Read more about threatened suburban forests in Stockholm:

Bagermossen’s forest is threatened by construction road

Kärrtorp’s Eastern Forest

Fagersjö Forest