Finland: Truth vs. Industry promoting their great compromise of lil’ less destruction

The last unprotected intact forest landscapes in Northern Finland are
currently being destroyed by the Finnish government and timber
industry. Low-productive old-growth boreal forests located hundreds of
kilometres north from the Polar Circle are being logged
systematically. Trees more than 300 years old are mainly ending up in
pulp wood piles of timber giant Stora Enso. Only less than 5% of
Finnish forests have remained untouched by modern forestry.

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The Finnish old-growth forest destruction today is totally
unnecessary. Finland is a rich industrialized country with no
economical need for logging the remains of its old-growth forests.
Logging in old-growth forests is being carried out simply because
government’s logging body Metsähallitus and forest industry have
decided to wipe them out for short-term profit. Shockingly, these
old-growth forest areas are providing less that 0.1% of the industry’s
wood supply. Many of the areas being logged are over 50 000 hectares
in size and are of global significance. In May 2006, Finnish NGOs
published a report identifying the eight largest unprotected
old-growth forest areas in Northern Finland’s Forest Lapland region.

NGOs, supported by over 250 leading Finnish scientists and
researchers, urged protection of these last remnant old-growth
forests. However, since December 2006, Finnish government has been
logging these forests. Four out of five of Finland’s largest intact
forest landscapes are now being deliberately fragmented! Hundreds of
habitats for red-listed species are to be destroyed. Finnish pulp and
paper giant Stora Enso buys most of the wood. While buying wood from
intact forest landscapes and from habitats of threatened species,
Stora Enso claims in its propaganda to be “committed into
sustainability”. The logging is “certified” by the Programme for the
Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), purposefully misleading
and completely confusing consumers regarding the environmental
sustainability of first time logging of ancient forests.

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From: Sustainability, — Some Finnish
environmental organizations have called for further protection in some
areas where Metsähallitus has been logging. Metsähallitus has
recognized these demands of the environmental organizations, and
carried out further inventories in these areas last year.

Some of these areas were reclassified as valuable old-growth in autumn 2008
and have been left out of commercial loggings. The other areas remain
classified as normal commercial forests where loggings can be carried
out. Metsähallitus has no plans for further logging in the areas
defined by the environmental organizations in Forest Lapland this
winter. Stora Enso’s position is that we can receive wood from the
areas as they meet FSC Controlled Wood requirements.

Audits carried out by Stora Enso Wood Supply Finland in the logging areas confirm this. Stora Enso is open for further dialogue with different
stakeholders. We have recently discussed the matter with Greenpeace
and Metsähallitus, and would like to continue this dialogue face to
face, and preferably not through thousands of e-mails. Yours
sincerely, Jouko Karvinen, Stora Enso

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Deane RimermanFebruary 20th, 2009 at 10:41 pm

HELSINKI (AFP) — Environmental groups on Thursday blasted Finnish paper maker Stora Enso for logging old growth forests in northern Finland, insisting the unique trees should be protected.

Environmental groups Greenpeace, Suomen Luonnonsuojeluliitto and Luonto-Liitto said they had found that some trees more than 300 years old had been logged in Finnish Lapland in the north of the country and shipped to Stora Enso’s pulp mill in Oulu.

The logged forests, also known as old growth forests or ancient woodlands, are owned by the Finnish state.

“It is unbelievable that at a time when forestry companies have slashed their production sharply, untouchable forests are logged,” Risto Mustonen from Luonto-Liitto said in a statement.

Old growth forests are often home to rare, threatened and endangered species of plants and animals, making them ecologically significant.

Stora Enso said it had bought the wood from the state and admitted it was possible that some very old trees were included.

“We don’t need ancient trees and our production cannot be based on that,” Stora Enso’s environmental manager Pekka Kallio-Mannila said.

Environmentalists have since 2006 urged Metsaehallitus, a state enterprise managing state-owned land and water areas, to conserve larger forests in the north. So far the parties have failed to reach an agreement.

Meanwhile, Metsaehallitus said the state had reviewed carefully its forests and noted that there were large conservation areas in Finnish Lapland as well.

“The forests in question are commercial forests. By no means are they old or indispensable forests,” Metsaehallitus regional director Kirsi-Maria Korhonen said.

“The average age of those trees is not 300 years but between 80 and 200 years.”

Stora Enso’s Kallio-Mannila said deciding which forests to conserve was not easy and called for more dialogue with environmental groups and forest owners.

The forestry industry is important to the Finnish economy, accounting to nearly one-fifth of the country’s exports.

The global financial crisis has further dented demand and profitability of Finnish paper makers, which have announced massive job and capacity cuts.

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