Scientists Call For Action: Protect Sweden’s Old-Growth Forests
It is now 2010, the year in which the Swedish environmental objective, Sustainable Forests, should be achieved. Despite
the critical state of forest biodiversity, the Swedish government has decreased the budget for forest protection and
advocates an intensification of forestry activities. In an appeal, leading scientists demand that the Swedish government
takes appropriate action to protect Sweden's last old-growth forests and other forests with high conservation value,
before it is too late.
So far, 29 scientists in Sweden and Finland have signed the appeal. They claim that sustainable forestry cannot be
achieved in Sweden when 95 percent of the productive forests are exploited, and only a few percent of the forest land
are set aside for nature conservation. Sweden has a large proportion of Western Europe’s old-growth forests and is
committed, internationally and nationally, to stopping the loss of biodiversity. The scientists mean that it is the duty
of the Swedish government to abide by these obligations.
“Theoretically we have a good environmental policy and the Swedish environmental objectives are exemplary,” says Bengt
Gunnar Jonsson, Professor in Plant Ecology at Mid Sweden University. “However, there is a discrepancy between ends and
means - the political will to implement the policy seems in practice to be insufficient. Consequently, we are faced with
an increasingly impoverished forest landscape. The environmental goal in the Swedish Forestry Act is clearly subordinate
to the goal of production.”
In 2010, decisions will be taken regarding the Swedish environmental objectives for 2020. In their appeal, the
scientists demand that a new area objective should be adopted, in line with leading nature conservation research, in
which 20 percent of Sweden's productive forest will be protected. To achieve this, large areas of forest land must be
restored, since there are too few remaining forest areas with high conservation value in Sweden today.
The scientists demand that the budget allocated to forest protection be increased to the level needed for the long-term
protection of forest biodiversity. Safeguarding the remaining older forests also preserves the soil carbon storage and
mitigates climate change. The scientists also recommend that a greater variety of forest management methods be employed
in the remaining 80 percent of productive forest, and say that greater environmental consideration must be taken
regarding biodiversity and water.
“Sweden is one of the world’s richest countries,” says Sven G Nilsson, Professor in Ecology at Lund University. “We can
therefore afford to protect the last natural forests and also restore the lost biodiversity of other forests. We have
inherited a rich flora and fauna from our ancestors which we must pass on to future generations.”
The Swedish organization Protect the Forest initiated this appeal from scientists to protect the last old-growth forests
and other forests with high conservation value in Sweden. The organization is now seeking broad support from the public
and from other scientists. Anyone who wants to sign the appeal, can access it via the Protect the Forest website