One of the forests planned for logging at Maskaure. Photo: Björn Mildh

The state-owned forestry company Sveaskog will sell and harvest a total of 2,600 hectares of woodland in Maskaure Sami village in Arjeplog municipality, Norrbotten, Sweden. This is no coincidence, write Leif Lundberg from Maskaure Sami village, Johanna Nilsson, Marcus Lidström and Björn Mildh all three members of Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, in an open letter to Sveaskog. The Sami ‘no’ vote must be respected and the remaining grazing and natural forests should be saved, not clear-cut, they write. Here is the open letter to Sveaskog:

Dear Eva and Viveka,

Again, we turn to you so that we are ensured to receive a relevant answer.

Sveaskog’s planned land sale can be seen on the company’s website and the sales this year include 10,400 hectares. More than 9,000 hectares of the forest land is located in the county of Norrbotten.

In the consultation with Sveaskog Maskaure Sami village said no for the first time ever to Sveaskog’s 17 planned loggings in the village’s reindeer grazing forests. The reason they said no was not to create contradictions but because of the ever increasing lack of reindeer grazing forests, especially winter grazing.

The reindeer are starving. Almost all Sami villages are in the same, difficult predicament because of forestry. It is not possible to conduct reindeer husbandry without pastures and these pastures are in the forests which are planned for logging.

For the same reason, the Sami village publicly protested against Sveaskog’s continued sale of woodland. Especially since the sale is done without any consultation, over the heads of the Sami. 9,720 hectares have already been sold. The forest land which is sold is usually harvested and the soil is prepared for plantations. This is the worst option for the reindeer grazing pastures!

We are aware that Sveaskog has a mission to sell 10% of its land holdings. But the company can choose which land it puts up for sale.

Dear Eva and Viveka,

How can it be that Sveaskog just this year wants to sell 5 + 1 forest properties in Maskaure Sami village, a total of 2,200 hectares? (one forest, the sixth, has just been planned, it is 400 hectares but not on the website yet).

Are the Board of Directors and management of Sveaskog clear about the company’s planned land sale?

In addition, Sveaskog wants to have consultations to harvest 32 natural forests of about 400 hectares within the reindeer pastures of the Sami village. All together that is 2,600 hectares!

It is not a coincidence that the all-state company Sveaskog this year wants to sell and log a total of 2,600 hectares of woodland in the same Sami village, Maskaure, the village that dared to say no to the company.

Sveaskog, you are acting deeply unjustly against our indigenous people. No forests shall be sold without an equal consultation in beforehand.

The Sami’s no is to be respected.

The remaining grazing and natural forests must be saved, not cut.

Leif Lundberg, Maskaure Sami village

Johanna Nilsson, member of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in Luleå

Marcus Lidström, Chairman, Norrbotten County Association

Björn Mildh, member of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation