Greenpeace reveals that production of magazines and packaging linked to destruction of Europe's last ancient forests

Press release - 22 March, 2007
The world's largest paper company, Stora Enso, and one of Europe's largest pulp producers, Botnia, today stand accused of destroying huge tracts of Europe's last remaining ancient forests to make paper for well-known magazines, photocopy paper and packaging for consumer goods in Europe. Greenpeace activists from across Europe launched a dawn protest this morning at the Botnia pulp mill and the Stora Enso paper mill in the northern Finnish town of Kemi. Unfurling a banner reading "Stop ancient Forest Destruction", forty protestors blocked the main entrances to both mills, preventing deliveries of timber which Greenpeace claims is taken from Europe's last ancient forests in northern Lapland.

Greenpeace activists protest in front of the largest pulp producers in Europe, Botnia, to demand a stop to the destruction of ancient forests in Northern Lapland. At the same time, activists launched a protest at the nearby Stora Enso paper mill, one of world's largest paper companies. Around 40 activists from 6 countries blocked both factories by locking themselves to the gates.The companies stand accused of destroying huge tracts of Europe's last remaining ancient forests to make paper for well-known magazines, photocopy paper and packaging for consumer goods.

Greenpeace has been investigating the 'chain of custody' linking deforestation in northern Lapland to the production of paper and pulp destined for consumer packaging, publishing and photocopying. Pulp from Botnia is used by M-Real to produce consumer packaging, including cartons for Hewlett Packard's home printers. Meanwhile, Stora Enso uses timber from ancient forests destruction to make magazine paper for nearly all of the leading European publishing houses and supplies almost all leading envelope producers, whilst the leading photocopy companies such as OCE, Canon and Xerox sell Stora Enso paper made from ancient forests under their own brand names. Pulp from Botnia is used also by M-Real and UPM for printing paper and tissues.

"Readers of the biggest magazine titles in Europe, purchasers of consumer good and users of envelopes don't realise that what they are holding in their hands is the result of the destruction of 1,000 year old forests", said Matti Liimatainen, Greenpeace Nordic forest campaigner, speaking from Kemi "Stora Enso and Botnia should stop buying timber from ancient forests destruction. The Finnish Government should take loss of biodiversity and climate change seriously and stop logging of ancient forests in Lapland immediately", he continued.

The scandal is directly linked to the Finnish government, as it is the state-owned logging company Metsahallitus, which has recently logged in a number of areas of ancient forests in northern Lapland (1). The Finnish government also owns around a 25% stake in Stora Enso.

Greenpeace is demanding governments to save ancient forests by setting up international laws to ban the trade in destructively or illegally logged wood and establishing large areas of protected forests.

Recently, 250 Finnish scientists and researchers have appealed for a halt to the logging in ancient forests in northern Finland, arguing that logging in Lapland's remaining old natural forests cannot be considered as a sustainable use of natural resources and conflicts with the biological diversity conservation agreements to which Finland is committed (2).

"Finland is committed to protect ancient forests and to stop the decline of biodiversity by 2010 through signing the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and EU´s Countdown 2010 initiative. Yet, ancient forests, that are globally threatened habitats and refuge for endangered species, continue to be logged for Finnish paper industry", Liimatainen continues. "Rather than defy international environmental agreements and ignore scientists advice, the Finnish Government should respect its people and its heritage and protect this ancient forest, not decimate it to make cheap, throw away products."

Life on Earth depends on ancient forests. Two thirds of all species on land live in these forests but, at current rates of destruction, they will be gone within decades. The protection of the remaining ancient forests also plays an important role in mitigating climate change, as one fifth of all the world's annual greenhouse gas emissions come from forest destruction. Ancient forests contain much more carbon than logged forests, especially in slow growing forests in north.

The boreal or northern (temperate region) forests are a massive store of carbon - containing one quarter of the world's terrestrial carbon - estimated to be approx. 559 billion tonnes.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future. It is committed to protecting the world's last ancient forests and the people and animals that depend upon them.

Other contacts: Matti Liimatainen, Greenpeace Nordic forest campaigner +358 400 346329 Oliver Salge, Greenpeace International forest campaigner +49 171 6035531 Harri Lammi, Greenpeace Nordic programme director +358 50 383 1822 Satu Pitkanen, Greenpeace Nordic spokesperson +358 50 546 1789

VVPR info: Photos: Franca Michienzi on +31 6 538 19 255

Notes: (1) The State-owned logging company Metsahallitus has recently logged in 5 areas of ancient forests of northern Lapland and planning to log in more areas in the near future. The Finnish State owns around a quarter of shares in Stora Enso. Stora Enso is the single largest customer of Metsahallitus, Botnia the second biggest customer. (2) During its EU presidency in 2006, Finland claimed that biodiversity was one of its priorities, and signed the Countdown 2010 initiative. The Countdown 2010 -target is to halt the loss of biodiversity in the EU by the year of 2010. Finland signed the programme of work on protected areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity already in 2004. 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". This was not done. In its recent assessment, "The protection and sustainable use of biodiversity in Finland 2006-2010" the Finnish Government admits that most, but not all, of these areas are protected.

Exp. contact date: 2007-03-30 00:00:00