The Janus face of SCA
In ancient Rome they worshipped the god Janus, who had two faces. This expressed the double nature of the deity. Through the years I have experienced the same phenomenon with SCA. Their management has an intentional double nature, a Janus face. One face is turned outward, to the public, customers and media. This is the face that the management wants the media to see and spread. It gives a positive picture of SCA and its activity.
SCA does not show the other face openly, but only behind closed doors. The company turns this face against nature, forests and birds when they cut down the forests. This face is turned against individuals who express critique, as long as management deems they are no immediate threat to the company. This face is turned against the indigenous Sámi people at closed meetings about logging traditional reindeer grazing lands, where only a few Sámi out of the whole community meet the representatives of the company. This face shows neither consideration nor understanding, and is ruled by their tough and authoritarian corporate culture. SCA detests everything that limits their possibility to extract timber at a profit from the forests, whether it’s high biological values, indigenous peoples rights or nesting birds.
SCA’s lack of environmental protection has a long tradition
When SCA describes its own position regarding environmental protection, you can read the following: “Already in the mid 1980s, SCA assessed that preserving biodiversity was the most important environmental target for a responsible forestry management”.
From the following series of pictures it is evident how well they have fulfilled their chief environmental objective in their domains in Norrbotten county.
Surrounded by clear cuts is a little forest remnant of a few hectares, which was temporarily left after the first wave of final fellings, nested Black woodpecker, Three-toed woodpecker, Great spotted woodpecker, Boreal owl, Honey buzzard and Eurasian Sparrowhawk. Observations were also made of Lesser spotted woodpecker, Common buzzard and Eurasian treecreeper, in addition to more or less abundant findings of orchids like Frog orchid, Lesser twayblade, Lesser butterfly-orchid, Heath spotted orchid, Northern coralroot and the Calypso orchid.
The last picture shows what was left after SCA had finished logging. The small forest remnant was totally eradicated, and the picture might as well have been taken in Hiroshima in 1945. The reckless forestry of SCA, their concealed double nature, has a long history.
The Finnträsk forest is located 20 kilometers south of the city of Piteå, on the border between Norrbotten and Västerbotten county. The area is well known for its abundant birdlife, which coincides with the IBA-criteria (Important Bird Area according to BirdLife International), even though an official classification has not yet been made. In Finnträsk Great grey owl (Strix nebulosa), Ural owl (Strix uralensis), Northern goshawk, Honey buzzard, Common buzzard and Osprey nest. There are also several couples of nesting Smew in ponds in the area, along with courting grounds for Wood grouse (or Western Capercaillie). To the southeast, Finnträsk is adjacent to the Kälen forest, which is also rich in birdlife, with among others the Honey buzzard and Great grey owl which nest here.
For more than 10 years SCA has continuously been notified about the area’s unique character as a bird habitat, but the company has still continued to log the last remaining island of natural forests, which are living-space for many birds of prey (read the journal “Vår Fågelvärld” 4/2001 and 8/2007). The small areas that the company has left have not been set aside on their own initiative, but always after immense pressure. Further, the areas that have been set aside have no long-term protection. A simple “internal re-prioritizing” of set-aside areas, that nobody needs to be informed about, is all that it takes for the company to be able to clear-cut these areas in the future.
In brief, there is NO bird protection, neither in Finnträsk nor in Kälen. Right now the “Ural Owl Forest” and “Wood Grouse Forest” in Finnträsk are next in turn to be logged, as well as a small remnant of natural forest in Kälen with a previously known nesting place for Great grey owl. The forests are marked with strips and necessary permissions are already granted. All that is left to do is to start chopping down trees.
During the initial harvesting planning of the “Ural Owl forest”, not a single tree was to be left around the nest tree. Not until the company was contacted anew, was the planning redone so that the trees closest to the nest were to be left untouched. But SCA has refused to protect the whole forest, which is the living-space of the Ural Owl.
The “Wood Grouse forest” is another, small remnant of natural forest in Finnträsk, which SCA has decided to cut clear even though they contain courting grounds for Wood Grouse. The forest is marked with strips as close as thirty meters from the center of the courting ground. When I notified SCA about the courting ground, the company disputed my information, and as a lack of argument SCA went to the media and publicly called me a liar. My information about the courting ground was later confirmed by others in the journal “Skogsland”. But still the threat of final felling hangs over the “Wood Grouse forest”.
In the neighboring Kälen forest, for many years there was a well-known nesting place of Greater grey owl in an old Northern goshawks nest. I notified SCA about the nest, and asked the company not to log in the vicinity of the nest tree. But what did SCA do? Exactly the opposite! They cut the forest next to the nest. Since then no Greater grey owl has nested there. The picture shows the owl in the nest before the final felling took place.
There are many examples that all show the same thing. SCA’s promises about saving habitats for large predator birds, owls and other rare and endangered species of birds, are nothing but empty words to deceive the public and their customers. It doesn’t matter to SCA if the birds disappear. Preferably they should vanish, so that remaining old-growth forests can be logged without protests. SCA’s claim of environmental protection is not to be trusted.
Even birds have the right to live. True environmental protection and responsible forestry will grant them a future.
Finally: The forestry certification FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) will never be better than those who are set to realize them in practice – in this case SCA and their certifiers.
Björn Mildh has since 1984 been living in Piteå in Norrbotten county, the northernmost region in Sweden. He was born and raised in the archipelago of Åboland in Finland, and since childhood he has had a strong and active interest in nature, especially birds, plants and forests. During his professional life he has worked as a pediatrician for about thirty years and retired in 2005.
Since the end of the 1990s he worked actively with nature conservation, mostly on state owned and corporate land in the south of Norrbotten county (on the tenancy of ASSI, which later in 2002 became Sveaskog, as well as on the tenancy of SCA and the National Property Board). Björn Mildh is a member of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and board member of the organization Protect the Forest.