FSC’s ‘false guarantees’ over Swedish wood prompts formation of new forest conservation group

FSC-Watch has received this announcement of the establishment of a new organisation which aims to fight the destruction of Sweden’s forests, and to challenge the greenwashing of this destruction by the FSC.

Swedish old-growth forest destruction – international wood and paper customers deceived

New organization confronts old-growth forest destruction

Sweden, which will take over the EU Presidency in July 2009, has a considerable proportion of Europe’s remaining old-growth forests. However, many of these forests are being ravaged. The Swedish government has reduced its budget for forest protection and proposes to increase forest production. At the same time, forest companies such as SCA and Stora Enso, log unprotected old-growth forests under the cover of environmental certification FSC [1]. Customer countries buying Swedish wood and paper products are being deceived.

Because of the critical situation, a new Swedish forest conservation organization, Protect the Forest, has recently been established to reverse the situation and to push the alarm button.

“We urge everyone concerned and customers in countries that import forest products from Sweden to put pressure on the Swedish government and forestry sector,” says Viktor Säfve, chairperson of Protect the Forest. “We immediately need to stop the destruction of Europe’s last old-growth forests and to do this we need to cooperate internationally.”

Forestry has transformed most of Sweden’s forests into plantations and young forests. More than 1,800 animal and plant species are endangered or near-threatened. Only around 1.5 per cent of Swedish productive forests, below the mountain region, are formally protected from logging. There is consensus among Sweden’s leading scientists that the current Swedish forestry policy is a serious threat to biological diversity [2].

“Sweden is committed to international conventions to safeguard its biological diversity,” says Amanda Tas, secretary of Protect the Forest.”Yet, the government ignores scientific facts and turns a blind eye to the devastation of forests with a high conservation value.”

A large proportion of all wood logged in Sweden is exported as raw material, paper, pulp and other products to countries such as the UK, Germany and USA [3]. Customers in these countries are given false guarantees by the Forest Stewardship Council, FSC, and the Swedish forest industry that these products are produced in a sustainable way.

For more information, please contact:

Amanda Tas, Secretary of Protect the Forest, amanda.tas@skyddaskogen.se

Viktor Säfve, Chairperson of Protect the Forest, viktor.safve@skyddaskogen.se


[1] The Forest Stewardship Council, FSC, is an international organization that certifies forestry and wood products, such as paper and furniture. The FSC label should guarantee that the forest companies’ timber and other products derive from forestry of high environmental standards. For more information, read the Greenpeace report “Under the Cover of Forest Certification”.

[2] Debate article “Forest policy threatens biological diversity” in Swedish tabloid (Dagens Nyheter, 2008) written by 14 leading nature conservation scientists.

[3] Examples of Swedish FSC-certified forest companies: SCA is a global company that produces personal care products (TENA, Libero, Libresse, Nana), tissue (Tork, Tempo, Zewa, Edet), packaging and solid wood products in more than 90 countries. SCA’s eight largest markets are (in order): Germany, UK, France, USA, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. In Sweden, SCA is notorious for its systematic loggings of high conservation value forests.

Stora Enso is one of the world’s biggest producer of paper and cardboard. Its products are mainly produced in Europe (including Russia), China and Latin America. Stora Enso has monoculture plantations in Brasil and China, which have caused environmental problems and conflicts between social groups and the company. Example of important consumer brands are MultiCopy (office paper) and Effex (wood paneling). In Sweden, Stora Enso logs old-growth forests and has ended up in social conflicts when logging forests that are socially valuable for the local population.

Bergvik is Sweden’s second-largest forest owner in terms of annual felling volume. In 2004 Bergvik acquired all of Stora Enso’s former holdings in Sweden. Bergvik manages forests and sell felling rights to Stora Enso.



  1. Go, Protect the Forest! Protect the Samis, too. I guess there are a few good Swedes left after all.

  2. “Sweden,.. , has a considerable proportion of Europe’s remaining old-growth forests”

    Really?? I grew up there, and as far as I know most parts of the forest land in Sweden have, one way or another, been affected by human activities over the centuries/millenia.

    Just because there are reasonably big trees standing upright doesn’t mean the forest is “old growth”, or “pristine”.

    It seems the best strategy to avoid NGO criticism is to do what the major countries on the Continent have done;

    Cut down the forests and build cities, shopping centers and convert the rest into parks and agricultural land…

  3. You’re right, most of Sweden’s forest is not old-growth. Big standing trees do not equal old-growth forests. That’s precisely why it is so appalling that FSC is certifying the destruction of old-growth forest in Sweden.

    There is still some old-growth forest left in Sweden. Because there is so little old-growth left in Europe, a “considerable proportion” of that is in Sweden. Loggers in Sweden and FSC, are attracting criticism because they are destroying old-growth forest. The best strategy to avoid NGO criticism would be to protect the old-growth forest.

  4. Dear Mats,

    I would like to inform you that Sweden actually has 13 Intact Forest Landscapes-areas at the link you gave. That is more than in any other Western European country. At this moment most of them are partly unprotected and many of them are in direct danger of fragmentation by forestry, not to talk about the smaller patches of old-growth forests remaining.

    Less than 4 per cent of the productive forest land is protected in Sweden, some 4 percent to go to save the most valuable old-growth forests and High-Conservation Value Forests. Swedish forests cannot be protected in Russia.

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