The Swedish forest company SCA wants to manage and log parts of a rare post-fire naturally regenerated pine forest with high conservation values and red-listed species at Stor-Mullberget in the province of Härjdedalen in Sweden. In a letter to SCA, two Swedish NGOs write that SCA’s planned measures are in conflict with both environmental objectives and forest certification rules: “Some of the lying dead wood is so coarse that it reaches up to the waist when you stand next to it – this is one of the most impressive post-fire natural pine forests that we have seen. Forests like this should not be managed at all!”

Protect the Forest and Jämtland’s forest group (a local group under the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation) state that it is unbelievable that such a high consveration value forest is planned to be logged and managed. Unaffected by modern forestry, the area has a rich biodiversity. After a forest fire a long time ago, the vegetation has regrown naturally, which has made the old natural pine forest fairly dense. There is also an older mixed conifer forest in the area with a large variation in both ages and sizes of the trees. About 40 indicator species, of which 22 species are red-listed, have been found in the forest area. The red-listed and vulnerable fungi species Stereopsis vitellina, Sidera lenis and Haploporus odorus as well as the red-listed lichen Collema subnigrescens and the orchid Goodyera repens have been found in the forest. Both Haploporus odorus and Goodyera repens are protected according to the Swedish Species Protection Ordinance and the Swedish Environmental Code.

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in Jämtland-Härjedalen appealed against SCA’s planned logging at Stor-Mullberget last year. The appeal was first filed to the Administrative Court, then to the Administrative Court of Appeal and finally to the Supreme Administrative Court where the appeal was rejected. Protect the Forest and Jämtland’s forest group have also written several letters to SCA, the Swedish Forest Agency, the FSC and certifier DNV GL but none of them have yet acted to safeguard the whole forest area.

Please contact SCA and tell them that the forest at Stor-Mullberget in the province of Härjdedalen in Sweden should not be logged or managed at all: info@sca.com

Letter from Protect the Forest and Jämtland’s forest group to SCA:

Hello,

The whole natural forest area at Stor-Mullberget is worth protecting. Both indicator and red-listed species are spread out in the area. The inventory carried out by Jämtland’s forest group and Protect the Forest is in no way comprehensive but the findings of species, 40 indicator species of which 22 species are red-listed, clearly show that the conservation values at Stor-Mullberget are high. It is rare today to find a unique post-fire naturally regenerated pine forest stand like this with such coarse dead wood. Usually forests like this have already been thinned or clearcut. Some of the lying dead wood in the forest is so coarse that it reaches up to the waist when you stand next to it – this is one of the most impressive post-fire natural pine forests that we have seen. Forests like this should not be managed at all!

Natural successional forests in late stages are rare in the Swedish forest landscape and all these natural forest environments should be protected for the sake of biodiversity. SCA claims that overgrowth in the forest could be problematic for forest living species in the boreal zone. This is especially blatant considering that logging is the greatest threat to the forest living species. Logging in a natural forest like this has negative consequences for the biodiversity. In a recently published op-ed, nature conservation biologists from the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg and Umeå University point out the importance of greater biodiversity in the managed forests in order to generate different types of ecosystem service in the forest landscape:

https://www.svd.se/okad-mangfald-kravs-aven-i-brukad-skog

With that being said, we believe that the management measures that SCA promptly wants to carry out in Stor-Mullberget’s high conservation value forest is a completely wrong approach which contradicts both democratically decided environmental objectives and environmental certification rules. It is also against the sector’s responsibility not to log high conservation value forests. SCA’s eagerness for management should instead be devoted to the almost eradicated biodiversity in the already managed forest lands. Here, management measures such as veteranisation, moderate thinning and fire would be the most beneficial. It is thanks to the free development of the boreal natural forest that species occur and thrive there – it is the basis for the biodiversity in our boreal forests.

Sometimes forests do burn but that does not have to be the case, forests can develop naturally also without fire. The fire history of our boreal forests can vary from every 50 years (this is often due to human created fires) to every 100-300 years (natural fire cycles in the northern boreal forest).

Stor-Mullberget’s biodiversity thrives without SCA’s management ideas. Therefore, we believe that no management measures should be carried out in this natural forest with woodland key habitat qualities. Apply your energy to managing measures where they really are needed, in the managed forest, that is, in the production forests without substrates, red-listed species and old trees. Veteranisation of pine trees would be far more beneficial to such stands than to old natural pine forest stands where old-growth pine trees already exist and where self-thinning already occur. The species living at Stor-Mullberget need to be protected and this is best done by not using any forestry or management measures at all.

Yours sincerely,

Elin Götmark, spokesperson, Protect the Forest

Rebecka Andersson, Jämtland’s forest group