December 6, 2017 - Stockholm, Sweden: In an open letter, 56 travel, ecotourism and guide companies demand that all remaining high conservation value forests in Sweden must be protected. The companies are concerned about a number of biologically valuable forests which are planned to be felled by the Swedish FSC-certified forest companies Sveaskog, Stora Enso and SCA. Nature-based tourism has an annual turnover of several billions of SEK, and it is on the uprise. Many global travellers specifically visit Sweden to explore the nature., Sweden is known for its rivers, lakes, mountains and deep forests which also appeals to other types of tourism.
“Wild and beautiful nature attracts tourists to Sweden. Companies like ours create fantastic nature experiences, and many of these experiences are highly dependent on non-exploited nature. There is an increasing demand to hike through rich old-growth forests and gaze at undisturbed views from silent mountain tops. High conservation value forests are vital to Sweden's tourism industry and constitute a unique part of the last wilderness in Europe, and it is not acceptable that they are being felled by forest companies such as Sveaskog, Stora Enso and SCA,” said Ulrika Krynitz from the ecotour company Urnatur Hb.
Sveaskog has during the last years, among other things, felled hundreds of hectares of biologically valuable forest in Ore Forest Landscape in the county of Dalarna, which is a part of the Borderland Wilderness area, Scandinavia’s southern wilderness. The forest company is planning to fell more forests in the valuable landscape. 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.*
"These allegations must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated by local and international authorities. Serious doubts are raised about the credibility of a global, leading ecolabel at the very time when consumers should be encouraged to choose eco-labelled products. The ecotourism sector, which sustains many more quality jobs in rural areas is, metaphorically and literally, being razed to the ground. But above all, there is the inherent value of these old growth forests, vibrant populations and communities of living organisms now sentenced to destruction and death. They must be respected per se, not destroyed for private profit", said Antonis Petropoulos, Editor, ECOCLUB.com - International Ecotourism Club.
The undersigned travel and ecotourism companies demand that the forest companies immediately withdraw their logging plans in all high conservation value forests and protect them permanently. They also demand that forests in High-Value Forest Landscapes and continuity forests, as well as forests with unknown biological values, must be inventoried prior to any kind of planned forestry operation and if high conservation values are discovered, these areas should be exempt from forestry.
Read more in Oldhammer, B. & Kirppu, S. (2014). Rewilding areas in Dalarna
Oldhammer, B. (2015). Borderland Wilderness - Skandinaviens sydligaste vildmarker med Orsa, Mora och Rättvik som exempel (only in Swedish)
*Below are a few examples of unprotected valuable natural forest areas which are planned to be felled by FSC-certified forest companies.
The state-owned forest company Sveaskog has over the last 4 years clear-cut hundreds of hectares of high conservation value forests in the large valuable Ore Forest Landscape in the county of Dalarna in Sweden. Many more valuable forest areas are planned to be felled by Sveaskog
Recently, 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 clear-cut 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 red-listed species have been found, is in risk of being fragmented by Sveaskog. 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 next year since the area is of possible interest of a nature reserve establishment. However, Sveaskog plans to harvest socially valuable forests (not biologically valuable forests) within the area already this year.
Swedish-Finnish forest company Stora Enso is planning to clear-cut high conservation value subalpine forest on a private owner’s land which is not FSC-certified, south of the lake Messlingen in the county of Härjedalen in Mid-Sweden 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.
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