Swedish timber industry group Holmen, with its key market in the UK, has violated FSC standards by planning to harvest valuable forests and is suspected of having violated the Species Protection Ordinance, and is even suspected of corruption. The Swedish NGO Protect the Forest calls for UK consumers to put pressure on Holmen and other Swedish wood-suppliers to stop logging high conservation value forests and to transition to environmentally sound forestry methods.
High conservation value forest planned to be felled by Holmen in Jämtland. Photo: Ellinor Delin
Holmen is a Swedish forest industry group that runs forestry and energy production operations and manufactures paperboard, paper and wood products. It has one paper-mill in Workington, UK. Holmen Skog, responsible for managing the group’s land holdings, is FSC-certified, implying that its forest management should be environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable. Recently, certification body DNV GL requested major corrective action (CAR) from Holmen Skog due to its violation of the FSC certification. Holmen Skog planned to harvest several high conservation value forests in Jämtland, central Sweden, during the summer of 2016.
“We carried out inventories in these forests and found many red-listed species,” said Ellinor Delin from the Swedish NGO Protect the Forest. “Consumers in the UK receive guarantees from Holmen that their products are sustainable, but they as well as other Swedish forest companies such as SCA, Sveaskog and Stora Enso clear-cut biodiverse forests and convert them to species-poor tree plantations.”
Volunteers doing inventories in Jämtland. Photo: Ellinor Delin
In addition, Holmen Skog was recently reported to the police for felling a tree with a nesting pair of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), thereby violating the Species Protection Ordinance. The County Administrative Board informed Holmen Skog about the presence of the golden eagles in 2015. In 2016, only a stump of the nesting tree remained. The golden eagle is classified as near threatened in Sweden1, and is one of over 1,800 red-listed forest-living species in the country. Only about 4% of the productive forest land in Sweden is formally protected as national parks and nature reserves2 while over 90% is subject to harvest3. Additionally, the principal owner and chairman of the Holmen Board, Fredrik Lundberg, was by the end of January interrogated and under suspicion of bribery in connection with hunting events that he hosted.
Government-owned company Sveaskog recently got a major CAR for planning to fell high-conservation value forests in northern Sweden, despite its claims of environmentally sound operations. Here, volunteers found many red-listed species in the areas planned to be felled. According to the FSC and national law, inventories should be carried out by the timber industry itself.
“The Swedish forestry methods are very destructive and leave little room for vulnerable species,” adds Elin Götmark from Protect the Forest. “Sustainable forest methods are virtually non-existent. Holmen and other Swedish forestry companies need to be put under international pressure to immediately stop logging high conservation value forests and begin to use forestry methods which are as close as possible to the natural ecological processes in forests. It is high time customers see over where they source forestry products, but simultaneously all consumers have to reduce their use of these products.”
Elin Götmark, Spokesperson, Protect the Forest Sweden
Ellinor Delin, Protect the Forest Sweden
- Swedish Species Information Center (2015). The 2015 Swedish Red List;
- Swedish Forest Agency (2014). Swedish Statistical Yearbook of Forestry 2014.
- Larsson, A. (2011). State of the forest – red-listed species in a Nordic perspective (only in Swedish). Report 9. Swedish Species Information Center SLU, Uppsala.