Press release 12.12.2006
Greenpeace, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and Finnish Nature League
Endangered habitats being destroyed in Finland
The Finnish Government forestry enterprise Metsahallitus has started logging of intact old-growth forests in the region of Forest Lapland in Northern Finland. The areas that are currently being logged and planned to be logged have been thoroughly mapped by environmental organisations. Based on the field work, they are considered as being expectionally valuable for protection of biodiversity. NGOs have identified thousands of occurrences of threatened red-listed species in these areas. They represent very rare European large intact forest areas, each area being thousands of hectares in size.
Metsahallitus and WWF Finland told in February 22, 2006, that in the region of Forest Lapland, “Metsähallitus will review the sufficiency of the conservation network and any gaps before carrying out site-specific operational planning in these forests.”. The review was published today by Metsähallitus, but logging in these areas has been started already several weeks ago.
-Both Metsahallitus and WWF promised a review of these areas before the planning of any logging operations. However, now we find out that the logging has started even before the review was published. This means that the logging plans have been done already months ago. This shows that the “review” has been one more attempt to hide the problems of ancient forest destruction by covering it with pretty words, says forest campaigner Matti Liimatainen from Greenpeace.
The actions of Metsähallitus contradict with international commitments that Finland has made to protect biodiversity
Finland has signed the programme of work on protected areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity CBD. This programme obliges Finland to, “as a matter of urgency, by 2006, take action to establish or expand protected areas in any large, intact or relatively unfragmented or highly irreplaceable natural areas, or areas under high threat”.
The EU has committed to halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 and Finland as the current President of the EU has claimed that biodiversity is one of its priorities. At the same time the Finnish State is clearing out some of the most valuable habitats for forest biodiversity in the country. Only 3-5% of Finnish forests are old-growth forests and forestry is the most significant threat to biodiversity in Finland.
-The intact old-growth forests that are currently being logged are internationally recognized and threatened habitats. It is shocking that the governmental Metsahallitus, which is responsible for state-owned forests, is deliberately destroying habitats of threatened species a few months after the Finnish government has endorsed the international Countdown 2010- initiative to halt the loss of biodiversity, says forest campaigner Olli Manninen from Finnish Nature League.
In May 2006, major Finnish environmental organisations Greenpeace, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and Finnish Nature League published a report describing eight large, intact old-growth forest areas located in Forest Lapland, south of the Sámi homeland. High natural state of the forests, low level of fragmentation, location close to existing protected areas and large size were required of these areas. The forests had not previously been thoroughly surveyed for ecological values by any authorities. All of these areas are threatened by logging, and in at least two areas logging has already started.
Main customers of Metsahallitus are paper and pulp producers Stora Enso, M-Real and Botnia.
For more information, please contact:
campaigner Matti Liimatainen, Greenpeace, +358 400 346 329 matti.liimatainen[at]nordic.greenpeace.org