Leading Swedish scientists demand that the government takes appropriate action to protect Sweden's last old-growth forests and other forests with high conservation value.
Sweden commited to archeive Sustainable Forests by 2010. However, the target is still far, and the Swedish government has decreased the budget for forest protection and advocates an intensification of forestry activities.
29 scientists in Sweden and Finland claim that sustainable forestry cannot be achieved in Sweden while exploiting 95 percent of its forests. Sweden still hosts a large proportion of Western Europe's old-growth forests and is committed, internationally and nationally, to stopping the loss of biodiversity.
"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".
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 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 is now raising signatures from the public to the scientists appeal.