Large clear-cut conducted by Swedish state-owned company Sveaskog. Photo: Björn Mildh
The Swedish Parliament has recently voted for a budget which reduces the environmental and climate funds with SEK 2 billion (EUR 200 million). “A disaster which deliberately undermines national and international environmental targets”, states the Swedish environmental NGO Protect the Forest.
David van der Spoel, spokesperson for Protect the Forest, comments:
“Instead of protecting the last remaining unprotected natural forests in Sweden, these forests will now be logged in order to become pulp and biofuels. Both the biodiversity and the climate are put at risk, and in the long term it will also affect us human beings. Short-sightedness prevails.”
Sweden generally considers itself to be progressive and world leading when it comes to environmental issues. The annual budget for 2019 shows the opposite, as the environmental part is reduced with SEK 2 billion (18 %). The part of the budget which is allocated to protecting valuable nature is reduced by approximately 50 %. It was presented in December by the conservative Swedish Moderate Party and the Christian Democrats and supported by the far-right party Sweden Democrats. Protect the Forest is dismayed and predicts increased logging of high conservation value forests.
”The budget undoubtedly favors both the forest industry and the aviation industry. Using palm oil from the tropics and forest biofuels from the boreal region to fuel air travels will lead to huge greenhouse gas emissions with devastating consequences for the climate. The biodiversity of the forest ecosystem is already deeply threatened and there is no more room for large-scale clear-cuts and species poor tree plantations,” says David van der Spoel.
The reduced environmental budget includes less economic compensation to land owners for forest protection, less new nature reserves, a VAT increase for nature tourism guides, and less support to companies that make climate investments. The nationwide inventory of woodland key habitats, i.e. high conservation value forests where red-listed species occur or are expected to occur, will be canceled. The tax on flights is abolished, which will most likely lead to increased flights and an increase in the demand of biofuels.
Sweden is the world’s third largest exporter of paper, pulp and wood products. The reduced funding for nature conservation is due to a strong forest industry and its lobby work.
“This budget clearly meets the economic interests of the forest industry which seemingly is more important than achieving environmental targets, safeguarding biodiversity and protecting forests. We urge the rest of the world to put pressure on the Swedish government and forest industry to take their responsibility to resume the inventories of woodland key habitats, to safeguard all remaining forests with high conservation values and to phase out the clear-cut forestry in favour of more continuous forest cover methods,” says Michael Nilsson, board member of Protect the Forest.
Protect the Forest concludes that trading with Swedish forest products is a risky business which discourages and counteracts climate mitigation efforts, forest protection, environmental targets and the Paris agreement.
David van der Spoel, spokesperson, Protect the Forest, email@example.com, +46 70 315 70 44