Press release – March 16th, 2011
The recently approved logging of pristine subalpine forest in Änok has ledto an international outcry. Thousands of individuals have written to theCounty Administration Board in Norrbotten, urging them to stop the loggingand instead preserve this pristine wilderness intact. Environmentalorganizations from Germany and Costa Rica have also reacted, arguing thatlogging in Änok would ruin the credibility of Sweden’s environmental work.
In January, the Swedish Forest Agency granted permission to log virginforest in the Änok river delta. Environmental organizations appealed thedecision, and claimed it was made in conflict with 18 § of the SwedishForestry Act. Protect the Forest and Friends of the Earth Sweden releaseda critical statement, declaring that the decision exposed the collapse ofSweden’s forest policy. The two organizations also initiated the campaign“Stop the Logging in the Änok delta”, which so far has mobilized 3,500 tosign protest letters to the County Administration Board in Norrbotten. InGermany, the organization Pro Regenwald has started a similar campaign.
“We hope that the County Administration Board in Norrbotten takes thisinternational concern seriously, and makes sure to stop the destruction ofthe wilderness in Änok”, says Ellie Cijvat, chairperson of Friends of theEarth Sweden. “Sweden’s reputation is at stake, and we will loseinternational credibility regarding our conservation work if we fail topreserve unique and valuable virgin forest areas like Änok”.
The controversial virgin forest logging in Änok has raised great attentionboth in Sweden and abroad. In the small Central American country CostaRica, environmentalists have shown concern about the threat against Änok.The rainforests of Costa Rica harbor a great richness of biodiversity, andit is one of the countries which has endured a lot of critique for thedevastation of its rainforests. Today more than 25 percent of the forestsin Costa Rica are assigned for nature conservation, and eco-tourism is animportant part of the country’s economy. Now it is Sweden that is put toshame, and has to receive the critique from the countries of the world.
“With the actual decision of the Swedish Forest Agency to allow theclear-cut of virgin forest in the Änok river delta our generationcontinues to destroy the last intact and connected ecosystems with theirinvaluable richness of plants and wildlife”, says Miguel Soto Cruz fromthe environmental organization Arbofilia in Costa Rica. “This clear-cutwould throw back Sweden’s environmental policy and credibility in theworld as a signer of the Convention on Biological Diversity and member ofthe United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”.
Officials at all concerned authorities confirm that the area’sconservation values are exceptionally high. The Forest Agency’s decisionto nevertheless approve the logging, means that the only way to save theÄnok delta from exploitation is to formally protect the area. However,that would require the signature of Per-Ola Eriksson, governor ofNorrbotten County. Per-Ola Eriksson states in an interview that he doesnot intend to protect the area, despite the confirmed natural values.
If this really is the governor’s position, it would be a big scandal thatthe highest official of a government agency rejects conservationexpertise, environmental objectives and international opinion in thismanner”, says Daniel Rutschman, secretary of Protect the Forest.
“We urgethe governor to protect the Änok river delta and give us an officialstatement on the matter. If the governor allows the logging, we believethat he would be going against his mandate from the government to worktowards Sweden’s environmental objectives”.
More information about the campaign “Stop the Logging of the Änok delta”:
Viktor Säfve, chairperson Protect the Forest +46 (0)72 – 176 53 38 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellie Cijvat, chairperson Friends of the Earth Sweden +46 (0)73 – 778 22 42 email@example.com
Miguel Soto Cruz, board member, Arbofilia, Costa Rica +506 – 22 94 62 18 firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Rutscman, secretary Protect the Forest +46 (0)72 – 176 53 44 email@example.com