Crisis in the Swedish Forest –Act Now!

Open Letter to Swedish policymakers and the Swedish Forestry Agency signed by 70 organisations from 25 countries as well as 30 scientists. Click here for a fully referenced version of the letter with a list of the signatories.

There is a climate and biodiversity crisis in the world, and a catastrophic future lies ahead. According to official reporting under the EU Habitats Directive, 14 of 15 forest biotopes in Sweden do not have a favorable conservation status. Mainly due to this habitat destruction, over 1,800 forest-living speciesare red-listed in Sweden. We are therefore dismayed that high conservation value forests are being logged or are planned to be logged in Sweden. Sweden holds a considerable proportion of the remaining high conservation value forests innorthwestern Europe–a part of the last wilderness. These forests need to be protected in order to safeguard the biodiversity and mitigate climate change.Despite the critical forest situation, the Swedish Forest Agency has decided that at the end of 2020 it will stop registering areas classified aswoodland key habitats. A woodland key habitat is a forest areathat is of major importance for the flora and fauna, which often harbors endangeredand rare species. According to the Swedish FSC standard, woodland key habitats must be exempted from felling. The Swedish Forest Agency has also recently released a report with several measures for intensified forest management. The measures promote increased logging, clearing of ditchesand more plantations, instead of preventing biodiversity loss and emissions of greenhouse gases.This year 2020, national and international environmental targets should already have been met. At least 17-20 percent of all of terrestrial areas should be conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas. The rate of loss of all natural habitats should be at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero. Today, only about 6 percent of the productive forest land in Sweden is formally protected. The situation of forest biodiversity is urgent in the world, and Sweden is no exception. Sweden is failing to reach itsnational and internationalenvironmental targets. The potential to achieve thesetargets is reduced every time there islogging in a high conservation value forest.In order to stop the on-going degradation of the forest landscape in Sweden, the situation demands that:

•Woodland key habitats continue to be registered when forest areas are notified for felling after 2020.

•Forestry is stoppedin all high conservation value forests*.

•The state-owned forestry company Sveaskog is given amended owner directives with a lowerrequired rate of return to be able to achieve the environmental targets regarding sustainable forestsand biodiversity.

•The budget allocated to forest protection is increased to 5 billion SEK per year, starting during this Government’s tenure, until all high conservation value forests are protected in a long-term, quality assured and transparent way, with a landscape ecology approach.

•Clear-cutting forestry is phased out and replaced by forestry without clear-cutting methodsin forests without high conservation values.Act now.

* High conservation value forest = Core areas(värdekärnorin Swedish) including registered and unregistered woodland key habitats. 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. If high conservation values are discovered, these areas should be exempt from forestry.