Protect the Forest’s most important task right now is to work for the protection of all old natural forests in Sweden.
Forestry is practiced on almost all productive forest land in Sweden. The small fractions of forest land that still consist of old-growth forests are not of critical importance to the forestry. However, it is of vital importance that these forests are protected, for the sake of threatened animal and plant species and for the sake of the Swedish landscape. In a European perspective, these forests are an important part of the continent’s last natural forests. Almost 2,000 forest and tree living species are listed on the Swedish Red List of threatened or near threatened species. Many of them are dependent on the dynamics of old natural forests.
Over the last years, cynicism and ruthlessness has increased in the forest industry. The hunt for wood has often led to overexploitation and forest destruction. The forest companies have managed to convert Sweden’s mostly undisturbed forests into young, managed production forests and plantations. This is the main reason for this serious situation. Not only plants and animals have suffered from this. We, human beings, have also been deprived of much of what the forests have always represented. The forest, as a part of our culture and our history, has been taken away from us. Many Swedes, or other Europeans for that matter, have never experienced an old natural forest, and it is up to us to give coming generations a chance to do so.
Today, only about 1.5 percent of the productive forest land below the mountain region is permanently protected. This is a very low share in an international perspective. Globally, about 12 percent of the world’s forests are protected, and some countries like Costa Rica, a poor country compared to Sweden, has protected more than 25 percent of its forest area. Estonia has a reserve system that will comprise 10 percent of its productive forest land within a few years.
Scientific results show that 10-30 percent of the natural habitats of threatened species need to be protected, in order to safeguard viable populations and to protect biological diversity.
Sweden is committed to international conventions and national environmental quality objectives to safeguard biological diversity, but does not live up to them. An underfinanced state budget for forest protection is threatening the forest. The environmental quality objective for the forest has to be incorporated into the budget work. This is necessary to, for instance, make sure that there are enough resources to compensate land owners economically when nature reserves are created on their land. Opinion polls show that Swedes rank biological diversity and health highest when ranking the most important values of the forest.
The current Swedish government wants to give land owners a greater ”responsibility” for the environmental quality objective by letting them protect a large part of the last old-growth forests, on a voluntary basis. Thereby, the economic means to create nature reserves might be reduced. This means that a considerable part of these forests will lack statutory protection and will still risk being logged.
Protect the Forest wants to safeguard the statutory protection forms: national parks, nature reserves, legal habitat protections and nature conservation agreements.
• To protect all old-growth forests.
• To set aside forests and tree environments with natural values to nature conservation for restoration, so that they regain high conservation values. The remaining old-growth forests are not enough. Comprehensive restoration of nature values is necessary, if Sweden wants to protect its biological diversity and a living forest landscape.
• To permanently protect 20 per cent of the productive forest land.
• To improve legislation and regulations regarding the environmental impact of forestry.
• All forests with high conservation values that are managed by state-owned forest companies to be signed away without compensation to nature conservation authorities for permanent protection.
What does Protect the Forest do?
• We arrange inventories to map threatened forests and review the environmental considerations taken by forest companies. Knowledge saves forests.
• We influence and put pressure on politicians, authorities and foresters.
• We highlight the forest issue with different types of mass-education, such as: news letters, press releases, articles, events, courses and lectures.
• We campaign and do direct actions.