Finnish government takes a chainsaw to the last of their forests

Feature story - January 20, 2003
Some 30 countries throughout eastern and western Europe have no intact ancient forest left. Finland retains only about five percent of the old-growth boreal forests that once covered most of the country, but now even that is under threat, and by the government's own forestry company.

Finnish forest slated for logging which will begin any day.

The Finnish state owned forestry enterprise Metsahallitus is planning to start logging the old-growth forests of Malahvia, in the north eastern part of Finland close to the Russian border. Metsahallitus plans to commence both clearcutting and selective logging in the area despite clear scientific evidence about the high biological value of the Malahvia forest.

This old growth forest of almost 4000 hectares includes unditched bogs, streams, lakes and ponds. Rare and declining animal and plant species that depend on old growth forest conditions are common in this area. The forest is one of Finland's important homes for once numerous species like the Siberian Jay and Three-toed Woodpecker which have declined alarmingly since the late 1940s. Some of the species that make their home in the Malahvia forest are already endangered and still more are on the verge of becoming endangered.

The forest of Malahvia is part of a green belt of old-growth forests in Finland and an inseparable part of one of the most important hot spots of boreal biodiversity in Scandinavia and north-western Russia. Its natural features should be maintained and enhanced rather than further logged and fragmented.

According to research conducted by authorities working for the same government that plans to log this area, similar numbers of endangered species are found in only a few places in Finland. Reports by the environmental authorities go on to say that "...this is a forest site of major importance even on a national scale, whose diverse insect fauna and other endangered species will be saved only if no further fragmentation takes place."

Local residents have appealed to the Finnish Ministry of the Environment and the logging company Metsahallitus not to log the forests in the area. But bulldozers already carved two forestry roads into the area in December and logging operations are about to start any day now.

Take Action

Please write to the three biggest customers of Finnish forest destruction, StoraEnso, UPM-Kymmene and M-Real and ask them to say "NO" to ancient forest destruction.

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