The Forest Stewardship Council standard for Sweden “allows forests to be converted into tree plantations, through the use of clear-cut logging, soil scarification (ridging) and chemical fertilisation”, writes Amanda Tas of Protect the Forest in a recent piece on the Plantation Definition Discussion website.
All large timber companies in Sweden are FSC-certified, Tas writes, but every year high conservation value forests are clear-cut. Yet FSC takes little or no action against these companies, beyond corrective action requests.
Tas writes that FSC is part of the problem:
Many environmental problems associated with the timber industry in Sweden today, can be blamed on the practice of allowing ‘self-regulation’ by FSC certified companies. During its almost 20 years in Sweden, FSC certification has created the misconception that the country’s forests (and tree plantations) are being responsibly managed, and that high conservation value forests are being safeguarded.
Last week, Protect the Forest put out a press release highlighting the threats to Sweden’s high conservation value forest caused by Swedish timber industry group Holmen’s logging operations. The photograph above is high conservation value forest in Jämtland threatened by Holmen’s FSC-certified logging operations. (Photo: Ellinor Delin, Protect the Forest.)
Press release, 13 March 2017:
Timber industry in violation of environmental standards
Swedish timber industry group Holmen, with its key market in the UK, has violated FSC standards by planning to harvest valuable forests and is suspected of having violated the Species Protection Ordinance, and is even suspected of corruption. The Swedish NGO Protect the Forest calls for UK consumers to put pressure on Holmen and other Swedish wood-suppliers to stop logging high conservation value forests and to transition to environmentally sound forestry methods.
Holmen is a Swedish forest industry group that runs forestry and energy production operations and manufactures paperboard, paper and wood products. It has one paper-mill in Workington, UK. Holmen Skog, responsible for managing the group’s land holdings, is FSC-certified, implying that its forest management should be environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable. Recently, certification body DNV GL requested major corrective action (CAR) from Holmen Skog due to its violation of the FSC certification. Holmen Skog planned to harvest several high conservation value forests in Jämtland, central Sweden, during the summer of 2016.
“We carried out inventories in these forests and found many red-listed species,” said Elin Götmark from the Swedish NGO Protect the Forest. “Consumers in the UK receive guarantees from Holmen that their products are sustainable, but they as well as other Swedish forest companies such as SCA, Sveaskog and Stora Enso clear-cut biodiverse forests and convert them to species-poor tree plantations.”
In addition, Holmen Skog was recently reported to the police for felling a tree with a nesting pair of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), thereby violating the Species Protection Ordinance. The County Administrative Board informed Holmen Skog about the presence of the golden eagles in 2015. In 2016, only a stump of the nesting tree remained. The golden eagle is classified as near threatened in Sweden, and is one of over 1,800 red-listed forest-living species in the country. Only about 4% of the productive forest land in Sweden is formally protected as national parks and nature reserves while over 90% is subject to harvest. Additionally, the principal owner and chairman of the Holmen Board, Fredrik Lundberg, was by the end of January interrogated and under suspicion of bribery in connection with hunting events that he hosted.
Government-owned company Sveaskog recently got a major CAR for planning to fell high-conservation value forests in northern Sweden, despite its claims of environmentally sound operations. Here, volunteers found many red-listed species in the areas planned to be felled. According to the FSC and national law, inventories should be carried out by the timber industry itself.
“The Swedish forestry methods are very destructive and leave little room for vulnerable species,” adds Johan Moberg from Protect the Forest. “Sustainable forest methods are virtually non-existent. Holmen and other Swedish forestry companies need to be put under international pressure to immediately stop logging high conservation value forests and begin to use forestry methods which are as close as possible to the natural ecological processes in forests. It is high time customers see over where they source forestry products, but simultaneously all consumers have to reduce their use of these products.”
Elin Götmark, Spokesperson, Protect the Forest, Sweden
Ellinor Delin, Protect the Forest