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Unprotected forest on the island of Ornö is being felled

The landowner has made a new road straight into the unprotected forest. Now logging threatens so we try to be one step ahead of the machines. Photo: K Bäck

A private landowner has built a road straight into an unprotected natural forest on the island of Ornö in the Stockholm archipelago. In all likelihood, this means that felling of trees will soon take place. A few weeks ago members of Protect the Forest together with islanders on Ornö examined part of the forest and found 24 conservation species, of which 10 are red-listed. It is a new phenomenon that the untouched forest in the archipelago is now being logged.

The forest, which is located East of Lervassa swamp on central Ornö, consists of both rocky forest with old pine trees and wetter paths with old spruce trees. Many pine trees are over 200 years old and several of the fir trees over 100 years old. The forest is “ripe” for logging- as the landowners say, which is worrying for those who live nearby.

A new road heading into the forest means logging

Several of those who live on the island say that the only reason that the landowner would build a road into this forest is to be able to fell the trees. This has already happened in several other places on the island. “So now we want to stay one step ahead and take stock before the logging notification comes up.” Many forests on the island are already heavily thinned or have become clear-cuts. If a landowner is to just thin out the trees, they do not need to notify the forest in advance to the Swedish Forest Agency. Despite the fact that thinning out forest negatively affects natural values.

The redlisted fungi Cortinarius harcynicus was recently found in an inventory in an endangered forest on Ornö in the Stockholm archipelago.
Photo: Kristina Bäck

Over the past two or three years, the car ferry from the island to the mainland at Dalarö has been filled with large timber trucks that carry away an endless amount of logs. Clear-cuts and heavily thinned land has replaced the former species-rich archipelago forest. It is the kind of forest that has never been felled with machines before and which cannot be replaced with planted trees.

Inventory at Ornö. Photo: K Bäck

The landowner lets a forest company which is FSC-certified (Mellanskog) carry out the fellings with large machines that often leave ugly traces in the sensitive ground.

The Facebook group “Protect our beloved Ornö. No more big clear-cuts” now has over 400 members. In the group, the posts flow in with picture upon picture of felled old-growth forests that used to be beloved forests with nice berry- and mushroom-picking places.

Several pines are over 200 years old at Ornö. Photo: K Bäck

Unique forests on Ornö

For Europe, the archipelago which Ornö is part of,  has completely unique natural forests with spruces and pines which are several centuries old. You don’t have to be an expert to see that the pristine forests on the island are worthy of protection.  Many of the forests even have a primeval forest character just like the world-famous Tyresta National Park, which is located a few kilometers away on the mainland.

Members of Protect the Forest have also been to Ornö earlier this year and have carried out inventories in forests planned to be logged at Breviksnäs, Gråberget and Varnö. The Swedish Forest Agency had approved the planned fellings even though no one had inventoried the forests. The Swedish Forest Agency claimed that the forests were not worthy of protection but their viewpoint was rejected in the Supreme Administrative Court.

So now all three forests are still standing thanks to hard volunteer work, inventories and appeals.

The forest East of Lervassa swamp has not yet been logged, but it is good to stay one step ahead of the machines. During the inventory10 red-listed species were found.