State-owned forest company Sveaskog has clear-cut a large forest area, important for Laitavaara Sámi reindeer district in the north of Sweden. Photo: Marcus Westberg.

Today, on the International Day of Forests, 24 NGOs and 44 indigenous communities send an open letter to the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission and call on them to unite behind the best available science and remove forest biomass from the Renewable Energy Directive. They are also urged to protect EU’s natural forests and establish policies that keep carbon in the ground and in the forests.

The 24 NGOs and 44 indigenous communities write in the open letter:

“Scientists and the environmental movement have for decades warned about the negative climate and environmental impacts of burning fossil fuels. There is no question – the fossil era is over and we must immediately phase out fossil energy. The goal, however, must be to stop combustion, and not to replace one carbon source with another.”

Energy from burning biomass is incentivised and subsidised by the EU members under the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII). As a result, biomass has become the main source of “renewable” energy in the EU with a share of almost 60 %.

The signatories in the open letter state:

“Natural forests are not renewable. Trees can be planted, but not forests. If you plant wheat, you get a wheat field, not a meadow. If you plant pine trees, you get a timber field, not a forest. Real forests are complex ecosystems, a bedrock of a multitude of life and home for many species. Biological diversity – a variety of different life forms – is the prerequisite for all living beings, including us humans.”

In the open letter, the NGOs and the indigenous communities call on the President of the European Council, the President and Vice President of the European Commission to:

•    immediately remove forest biomass from the Renewable Energy Directive II,
•    politically address the drawbacks of the ‘Swedish forestry model’ (clear-cutting and replanting of tree stands),
•    preserve the EU’s natural forest heritage for future generations and maintain its ecosystem functions.

Read the full open letter here.

Forest Defenders Alliance has published the open letter here.

Clear-cut made by state-owned forest company Sveaskog in the north of Sweden. Photo: Björn Olin/
State-owned forest company Sveaskog planned to log the high conservation value forest at Bientjie in Maskaue Sami village in 2017. The forest is important as winter forage area for the reindeer. The logging plan is not yet withdrawn by Sveaskog. Photo: Björn Olin/