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Planned Nature Reserve in Swedish Lapland Threatened by Green-Washing Scheme

Karatj-Råvvåive in northern Sweden from above. Photo: Mose Agestam.

Subalpine old-growth forest in Karatj-Råvvåive in northern Sweden, which previously was meant to become a nature reserve, is now at risk of being logged. Authorities are investigating the possibility to establish a so-called eco-park instead of giving the area formal and long-term protection. The organization Protect the Forest strongly opposes these plans and is now launching an international campaign and a petition to save the forest.

Karatj-Råvvåive is a vast old-growth forest at the foot of the mountains in Jokkmokk in the northernmost part of Sweden. For more than a decade the environmental movement has fought to protect this 13,000-hectare large area from logging. This forest is valuable for plants and animals, for people to enjoy and live in, for reindeer-husbandry, for the Sami cultural history and for the ancient forest itself. The area borders the more than 1,000 square kilometer large nature reserve Pärlälvens Fjällurskog (the Pearl River Alpine Virgin Forest) and is thereby a part of one of Europe’s last large roadless primeval forest landscapes.

For many years Karatj-Råvvåive was intended to be given formal protection, and in November 2018 the northern half of the area was finally protected as a nature reserve. But for the southern half there is no solution yet, since the landowner Jokkmokks Allmänning has opposed protection. Instead the authorities and the landowners have initiated a process to create an eco-park there.

“A large and intact old-growth forest of this magnitude is unique, and we must ensure that it is given proper protection. It would be devastating if the area became fragmented, there is no room for questionable solutions as eco-parks,” says Linda Ellegaard Nordström from Protect the Forest.

An eco-park is a voluntary commitment where parts of the forest are protected, but where forestry and other kinds of exploitation are still allowed on about half of the area. It is also an agreement with a time-limit of a maximum of 50 years. Protect the Forest strongly opposes these plans and is now launching an international campaign in order to raise awareness of the threat against the forest. The organization has made a film and urges everyone to sign this petition, which will be sent to the authorities before their eco-park investigation is finished this fall.

“We want the authorities to show that they are taking responsibility for Sweden’s environmental targets and not succumbing to pressure from the forest industry. To create eco-parks in forests with a high conservation value is pure green-washing and nothing else than a loophole for the forest industry to continue to cut down the last remains of Sweden’s old-growth forests,” says Daniel Rutschman from Protect the Forest.

Read more about the campaign here.

Watch the movie about Karatj-Råvvåive (20 min, subtitles in English and German) here.

Sign online petition at here.

Linda Ellegaard Nordström + 46 70 – 254 11 48
Daniel Rutschman + 46 76 – 112 88 26

Facts about Karatj-Råvvåive

Karatj-Råvvåive is a forest 13 000 hectares in size, about 50 kilometers west of Jokkmokk in the county of Norrbotten in northern Sweden. Large parts of the area are roadless, subalpine old-growth forest. Karaj-Råvvåive consists of mountains that rise above the treeline, mountains covered in old-growth forest, wide areas of bare rock, heathland with hundred-year-old pines, large mires, streams and lakes. The Sami village of Tuorpon uses the area for reindeer husbandry, and the old-growth forests are important grazing-grounds for the reindeer.

In the west, Karatj-Råvvåive borders on the nature reserve Pärlälvens fjällurskog, and is a natural extension of one of Sweden’s largest areas of old-growth forest. The area has a very large biodiversity, and thanks to being so untouched, it has large conservation value. About 1,500 individual finds of 85 different red-listed species have been reported, for example three-toed woodpecker, grey-headed chickadee, the beetle Northorhina muricata, the lichen Evernia divaricata and Collema curtisporum, and the endangered wood-living fungus Neoantrodia infirma. The WWF has earlier declared Karatj-Råvvåive a natural area which ought to be protected.