Finland resumes its destruction of old-growth forests

Feature story - 17 October, 2003
Time is running out for the old-growth forests of Finland. The vast majority of Finland's valuable old-growth is owned by the state and logged by the state-owned company Metsähallitus. Metsähallitus' logging practices include clearcutting, logging in habitats of threatened and vulnerable species and logging in areas of special scenic or cultural value - including in areas that are critical for the reindeer herding of the indigenous Sami people.

September, 2003, logging in Sami area

Despite being involved in a 'dialogue' process with two environmental organisations (WWF and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation), to try and reach agreement regarding additional protection for old-growth forests, Metsähallitus is now logging sites that should be subject to negotiation.

In June 2003, Greenpeace and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) presented comprehensive maps of the old-growth areas that should be subject to moratorium, pending discussion and additional protection, to all those involved in the dialogue process. Metsähallitus then announced a halt to new logging operations in these mapped areas. Sadly, the halt in logging was short lived. In August and September logging took place in at least six old-growth forest areas in Northern Finland.

It seems Metsähallitus wants to have its cake and eat it too - friendly talks with environmental groups at the same time they keep logging critical habitat. To be blunt, their commitment to the dialog process has proven untrustworthy. The new logging has been without consensus from the dialog process or proper consultation with the Sami reindeer herders. Now there's a risk the logging will expand to include other old-growth areas.

Greenpeace investigations have revealed a number of companies buying old-growth timber from Metsähallitus, but the great majority goes to Finland's three international paper manufacturers, Stora Enso, UPM-Kymmene and M-Real.

Greenpeace is calling on customers of Stora Enso, UPM-Kymmene and M-Real to:

  • Ask for written guarantees that no material from any of the recently mapped old-growth areas is entering or will entering their supply chain, pending comprehensive agreement on additional protection for these areas.
  • To begin to switch all virgin fibre in their supply chain to sources that have been independently certified, at least to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®).

For more information about Finland's forests, visit - a joint Greenpeace / Finnish Nature League project.