”We are deeply concerned about the state-owned company Sveaskog which is clear-cutting and planning to clear-cut forests with high natural values”. 12 Swedish NGO’s have written an open letter to Sveaskog, Swedish authorities and the government ministers Ibrahim Baylan, Minister of Enterprise and Innovation, Isabella Lövin, the Minister for Environment and Jennie Nilsson, the Minister of Rural Affairs.
A collection of examples of threatened natural forests from the counties of Norrbotten, Västerbotten and Dalarna is included in the letter. These forests are only a small collection of all the forests with high natural values which Sveaskog is planning to clear-cut. The NGOs call for protection of all of Sveaskogs’ natural forests with high biodiversity. David van der Spoel, spokesperson of Protect the Forest, states:
“Forests with high natural values should be protected not logged. We demand that the government lowers the revenue return of Sveaskog so this can be possible. Natural forests should be preserved for the climate since the boreal forest accumulates carbon in the ground. Natural forests also need to be protected for biodiversity since about 1 800 species forest living species are red-listed in Sweden. The forests which are mentioned in the open letter are just examples, there are many more”.
The potential of reaching national and international environmental goals is rapidly decreasing. Researchers say that at least 20 per cent of the productive forest in Sweden needs long-term protection, today only 5 per cent forest is formally protected. Björn Mildh, who has been actively engaged for protecting threatened forests for many years and is a member of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, states:
“Sveaskog has a noticeable lack of forest ready to cut because of previous over-logging. Despite the fact that the company is state-owned- that is to say owned by the Swedish citizens, ambitions about conservation have been abandoned in favor of a comparatively brutal forestry. They clear-cut both natural forests near mountains and forests in the Sami-villages’ core-areas which are of national interest. This is done in an attempt to feed sawmills and industry with wood.”
To log forests with high conservation values strides against the Paris-agreement where the focus is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. If boreal natural forests are clear-cut the carbon dioxide which is sequestered in the ground will be released to the atmosphere and contribute to the greenhouse effect. It is also not in line with the UN’s Aichi goals to clear-cut natural forest with red-listed species. Pia Björstrand, spokesperson in the NGO Climate Action- one of the organizations which has signed the open letter, states:
“It should be prohibited to clear-cut old-growth forests considering the situation of emergency which prevails now. The benefits in using such forests for products does not up-weigh the loss of biodiversity and the negative consequences for the climate which occur when the forest is clear-cut.”
The open letter is a part of the campaign Vår Skog (translated: Our Forest) addressed to Sveaskog, initiated and supported by 23 Swedish environmental organizations. The campaign demands that Sveaskog protects all of its threatened natural forests with preservation values and over 40 000 people have signed a petition. Representatives from Greenpeace, Protect the Forest, Climate Action, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and many more have signed the open letter to Sveaskog. The open letter, which is in Swedish, can be downloaded here. The collection of examples of threatened natural forests, which is in Swedish, can be downloaded here.