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Thousands Protest Swedish Primeval Forest Logging

Press release – March 16th, 2011

Thousands Protest Swedish Primeval Forest Logging

The recently approved logging of pristine subalpine forest in Änok has led to an international outcry. Thousands of individuals have written to the County Administration Board in Norrbotten, urging them to stop the logging and instead preserve this pristine wilderness intact. Environmental organizations from Germany and Costa Rica have also reacted, arguing that logging in Änok would ruin the credibility of Sweden’s environmental work.

In January, the Swedish Forest Agency granted permission to log virgin forest in the Änok river delta. Environmental organizations appealed the decision, and claimed it was made in conflict with 18 § of the Swedish Forestry Act. Protect the Forest and Friends of the Earth Sweden released a critical statement, declaring that the decision exposed the collapse of Sweden’s forest policy. The two organizations also initiated the campaign “Stop the Logging in the Änok delta”, which so far has mobilized 3,500 to sign protest letters to the County Administration Board in Norrbotten. In Germany, the organization Pro Regenwald has started a similar campaign.

“We hope that the County Administration Board in Norrbotten takes this international concern seriously, and makes sure to stop the destruction of the wilderness in Änok”, says Ellie Cijvat, chairperson of Friends of the Earth Sweden. “Sweden’s reputation is at stake, and we will lose international credibility regarding our conservation work if we fail to preserve unique and valuable virgin forest areas like Änok”.



The controversial virgin forest logging in Änok has raised great attention both in Sweden and abroad. In the small Central American country Costa Rica, environmentalists have shown concern about the threat against Änok. The rainforests of Costa Rica harbor a great richness of biodiversity, and it is one of the countries which has endured a lot of critique for the devastation of its rainforests. Today more than 25 percent of the forests in Costa Rica are assigned for nature conservation, and eco-tourism is an important part of the country’s economy. Now it is Sweden that is put to shame, and has to receive the critique from the countries of the world.

“With the actual decision of the Swedish Forest Agency to allow the clear-cut of virgin forest in the Änok river delta our generation continues to destroy the last intact and connected ecosystems with their invaluable richness of plants and wildlife”, says Miguel Soto Cruz from the environmental organization Arbofilia in Costa Rica. “This clear-cut would throw back Sweden’s environmental policy and credibility in the world as a signer of the Convention on Biological Diversity and member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”.

Officials at all concerned authorities confirm that the area's conservation values are exceptionally high. The Forest Agency’s decision to nevertheless approve the logging, means that the only way to save the Änok delta from exploitation is to formally protect the area. However, that would require the signature of Per-Ola Eriksson, governor of Norrbotten County. Per-Ola Eriksson states in an interview that he does not intend to protect the area, despite the confirmed natural values.

If this really is the governor's position, it would be a big scandal that the highest official of a government agency rejects conservation expertise, environmental objectives and international opinion in this manner”, says Daniel Rutschman, secretary of Protect the Forest. “We urge the governor to protect the Änok river delta and give us an official statement on the matter. If the governor allows the logging, we believe that he would be going against his mandate from the government to work towards Sweden’s environmental objectives”.

ENDS

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