Dear Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Minister for Rural Affairs, Minister for the Environment, and Director General of Swedish Forest Agency,
We are nature photographers and filmmakers who wish to express our concern regarding Swedish forest management. The Swedish forest landscape is changing dramatically. A large number of forests with high conservation values have been felled leading to a highly fragmented landscape with detrimental effects on biodiversity (1). Many more high conservation value forests are planned to be felled by Swedish FSC-certified forest companies that claim to have high environmental standards.
We photographers use the camera as a tool to channel the natural world. We appreciate wild and non-exploited nature and try to capture the essence of biodiversity and the intricacies of ecosystems with our cameras. We tell stories, inspire, and educate through showcasing breathtaking natural sceneries, amazing and fascinating birds, insects, fish, mammals, fungi and plants. However, the current direction of Swedish forestry puts us in danger of losing that upon which our stories are built: biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.
It is not acceptable that high conservation value forests, which are vital to biodiversity and constitute a unique part of some of the last wilderness in Europe, are being felled by FSC-certified forest companies.
We therefore demand the following:
1. Formally protect 20 % of the productive forest land in Sweden in accordance to leading nature conservation science (2,3).
2. Logging plans in all high conservation value forests should be immediately withdrawn.*
3. Exempt all high conservation value forests (core areas including registered and unregistered woodland key habitats) from forestry and protect them permanently.
4. Forests in High Value Forest Landscapes and continuity forests as well as forests with unknown biological values must be visited in the field and inventoried prior to any kind of planned forestry operation. Importantly, if high conservation values are discovered, these areas should be exempt from forestry.
We cannot stress enough the value of wild and intact high conservation value forest landscapes. We do not want our photos to depict recollected memories of lost nature and we do not wish to live in a world in which pristine forests only exist in old books, in dusty archives, or as zeros and ones on withering harddrives.
Johan Lind, Chairman, on behalf of the Board and the association Naturfotograferna /N(The Swedish Association for Nature Photographers)
The state-owned forest company Sveaskog has over the last 4 years clear-cut over 600 hectares of high conservation value forests in the large valuable Ore Forest Landscape in the county of Dalarna in Sweden. This Forest Landscape is now severely fragmented. Many more valuable forest areas are planned to be felled in Ore Forest Landscape by Sveaskog:
In 2017, Sveaskog clear-cut 40 hectares of an acknowledged high conservation value forest in Brännvinsberget in Ore Forest Landscape where 40 different red-listed and indicator species had previously been found:
Moreover, Sveaskog plans to fell a high conservation value forest in Melakträskliden in the municipality of Arvidsjaur in the north of Sweden. See photos of the forest here:
Sveaskog also plans to fell biologically valuable forest at Brännliden in the municipality of Arvidsjaur which is surrounded by clear-cuts and plantations. See photos of the forest in Brännliden here:
Furthermore, the unprotected and biologically valuable 1,300 hectare forest landscape with a mosaic of older natural pine and spruce forests in Rävdalen in the municipality of Gällivare in the north of Sweden, where 80 different redlisted species have been found, is at risk of being fragmented by Sveaskog. This is because this area is without protection. Local villagers have been struggling to protect the area over the last 2 years. The County Administration Board is planning to do inventories in the area this year since the area is of possible interest as a nature reserve establishment. However, Sveaskog plans to harvest socially valuable forests (not biologically valuable forests) within this area. But due to protests Sveaskog has postponed its planned harvest and will submit a response by the end of June 2018 whether it will conduct logging in the area or not.
In 2017, the Swedish-Finnish forest company Stora Enso was planning to clear-cut high conservation value subalpine forest on a private owner’s land which is not FSC-certified. This is situated south of the lake Messlingen in the county of Härjedalen where a total of 37 different red-listed and indicator species have been found. See photos from the forest here:
Due to protests from environmental NGOs, Stora Enso has decided to reevaluate the future management of the forest area planned to be clear-cut at Messlingen. It will not conduct any logging until the reevaluation is completed.
BERGVIK, BILLERUD KORSNÄS and STORA ENSO:
Examples of felled or planned to be felled high conservation value forest by Bergvik, Billerud Korsnäs and Stora Enso:
Swedish forest company SCA and three of its external suppliers felled over 23,000 hectares of forest within high value forest landscapes between 2012-2017, while another 22,000 hectares are still threatened by felling:
FSC-certified Holmen Skog is e.g. planning to log a biologically valuable forest (32 ha) within a High Value Forest Landscape at Dalsvallen, an area adjacent to the Sånfjället National park in the county of Jämtland. In total, 12 occurrences or red-listed and indicator species were documented by Greenpeace during a short field visit in the summer of 2017:
Continuity forest is a forest that has never been subject to clear-cutting. Its forest environment and substrates have developed over a long period of time and provide natural values which have not been affected by the large-scale clear-cutting forestry.(4)
Core area is a forest area that the County Administrative Board and the Swedish Forest Agency appraise to be of major significance for flora and fauna and/or for a prioritized forest type. Core areas can be a part of a stand or consist of several stands. The size varies from a few hectares to several hundred hectares in rare cases. Woodland key habitats and other high conservation value forests are normally included in the concept of core areas.(5)
High Value Forest Landscape (HVFL) is a forest area with ‘particularly high ecological preservation value’ and it contains a higher density of core areas than the general landscape.(6)
Woodland key habitat is a forest area that has a very large significance for forest flora and fauna, on the basis of a collective assessment of the habitat structure, species composition, stand history and physical environment. Red-listed species occur or can be expected to occur there.(7)--
1) Since 1950, about 60 % of the productive forest land has been clear-cut and replaced with tree plantations and managed stands. Reference: Larsson, A. (2011). Tillståndet i skogen – rödlistade arter i ett nordiskt perspektiv. Report 9. Swedish Species Information Center SLU, Uppsala: http://www.artdatabanken.se/media/2258/tillstaandet-i-skogen.pdf
2) Hanski, I. (2016). Messages from Island: A Global Biodiversity Tour. The University of Chicago, 272 p.
3) Protect the Forest (2010). Scientists call for action: Protect Sweden’s Old-Growth Forests; http://www.skyddaskogen.se/en/211-englishcategory/ actual/2684-scientists-call-for-action-protect-swedens-old-growth-forests
4) Ahlkrona, E., Giljam, C. & Wennberg, S. (2017). Kartering av kontinuitetsskog i boreal region (Mapping of continuity forests in boreal region; only in Swedish). Metria AB; https://www.- naturvardsverket.se/upload/miljoarbete-i-samhallet/miljoarbete-i-sverige/regeringsuppdrag/2017/bilaga-3-kartering-av-kontinuitetsskog-boreal-region-20170117.pdf
5) Swedish Environmental Protection Agency & Swedish Forest Agency (2017). Nationell strategi för formellt skydd av skog (National strategy for formal protection of forest; only in Swedish); https://www.naturvardsverket.se/upload/miljoarbete-i-samhallet/miljoarbete-i-sverige/regeringsuppdrag/2017/nationell-strategi-for-formellt-skydd-av-skog-reviderad-2-2017.docx.pdf
6) Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (29-09-2017). Översyn och avgränsning av värdetrakter i skog (only in Swedish); https://www.naturvardsverket.se/Documents/PM%20om %20v%C3%A4rdetrakter%20ver%202.1.pdf
7) Norén, M., Nitare, J., Larsson, A., Hultgren, B. & Bergengren, I. (2014). Handbok för inventering av nyckelbiotoper [Handbook for key habitat inventory]. Jönköping: Swedish Forest Agency; http://ns1.bergsjodata.com/naturskyddsforeningen/_externdok/Skogsstyrelsen/Handbok%20nyckelbiotoper.pdf