The natural forest which Sveaskog is planning to clear-cut at Gijmiesgielas. Photo: Björn Mildh

The FSC-certified and state-owned company Sveaskog is planning to log a 200-year old mixed pine forest at Gijmiesgielas, located in the reindeer grazing lands of Maskaure Sami village in Arjeplog’s municipality, Sweden. An open letter has been sent to Sveaskog, demanding that the rights of the Sami people should be respected and that Sveaskog should withdraw their logging plans. The letter states that “Sveaskog’s secrecy to get at the timber even in woodland key habitats is totally unacceptable”,
Read the open letter from Björn Mildh member of The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), Leif Lundberg from Maskaure Sami village and Johanna Nilsson, member of SSNC in Luleå:

“Dear Anette, Fredrik and Jenny,

How many natural forests classified as woodland key habitats are Sveaskog planning to clear-cut in Maskaure Sami-village’s reindeer grazing land? The next one Sveaskog is planning to take is the forest at Gijmiesgielas. Sveaskog has already built a new road straight through the natural forest which has high conservation values.

The forest at Gijmiesgielas is over 200 years old and consists of mixed pine with trees of all sizes and with occasional old sallows. There is a lot of dead wood and coarse woody debris. High stumps with holes for birds and numerous old pines. The spruce forest is richly draped with dark hanging lichens and is therefore an important reindeer grazing forest. Co-ordinates (Sweref 99): N 7301835; E 630899.

There has been a fire in the forest a long time ago. There has also been some logging done with an axe a long time ago but the continuity of both trees and dead wood are intact. The forest is in the same class as a woodland key habitat and has both capercaillie and black woodpecker.

We demand that Sveaskog openly declares its nature value assessment and declares why this forest is classified as a production forest (PG)!

Sveaskog’s secrecy to get at the timber even in woodland key habitats is totally unacceptable.

Even before a consultation has taken place Sveaskog has planned to log the forest and has built a road for transports.This proves that the company is plainly going to overrun the Sami village and cut down the forest!

The Sami-people have now said no to loggings at the consultations and during the field visits. Sveaskog has not accepted their no, which is loud and clear, but instead let the matter be mediated. The Sami-village continues to say no to logging but still it is Sveaskog/the state which determines to clear-cut the forests. Just like in Brazil where Bolsonaro decides that the indigenous peoples’ forests should be burnt. In Sweden the state/the state-owned company Sveaskog decides that the forests should be cut down! Is there any difference?

In both cases the state does not respect the rights of the indigenous people and they overrun them. Sveaskog, is this how FSC-certified forestry should be conducted?

Woodland key habitats should be protected and not clear-cut.

Reindeer grazing land should be left alone. The reindeer industry is classified as national interest in Sweden.

The rights of our indigenous people the Sami should be respected.

Amanda Lind, the Minister for Culture and Democracy, the Environmental Committee and the Committee on Agriculture have all been informed. Even the FSC-certifier has been informed.

Best regards,

Björn Mildh, member of SSNC i Naturskyddsföreningen

Leif Lundberg, Maskaure Sami village

Johanna Nilsson, member of SSNCin Luleå”

A nest of a capercaillie, in the threatened forest. Photo: Björn Mildh
The road which has been built through the old, natural forest at Gijmiesgielas. Photo: Björn Mildh