Metsahällitus, the Finnish state-owned forestry enterprise that is logging Finnish old growth forests, has agreed not to log in any of 476 areas of forest currently in dispute until urgent talks take place with environmental groups in Finland on 13 August. The disputed areas are outlined in detailed maps presented to Metsahällitus by Finnish environmental groups.
Tengmalm owl in the last old growth forests of Finland.
Earlier this year, after initial talks, a compromise agreement
was reached for just two of the 476 disputed areas - Malahvia and
Jamasvaara. This agreement came after a Greenpeace cyberaction in
which over 3,000 people sent letters to Stora Enso, UPM-Kymmene and
M-Real asking them not to buy pulp and timber from this forest
destruction. These companies are the three main customers of old
growth logs from Metsahällitus.
But while the talks between Metsahällitus and Finnish
environmental groups went on, the logging continued in other parts
of Finland's old growth forest.
in May, 12 Greenpeace activists from nine countries took to
inflatables in the Baltic Sea, intercepting and boarding the ship,
the Finn Hawk, on its way to the port of Lübeck in Germany. The
freighter was loaded with paper products from Stora Enso and M-Real
and was destined for the German market.
Greenpeace campaigners across Europe also decided to contact
many of the companies buying paper from Stora Enso, UPM-Kymmene and
M-Real to get them to express their concerns about the destruction
of Europe's last ancient forests. It appears that the Finnish
companies and Metsahällitus are starting to listen to them!
Driving the destruction
European market's hunger for paper is turning Finland's last
ancient forests into magazines, envelopes, copy paper and packaging
Paper is big business in Finland - Finland is responsible for
one quarter of the world's printing and writing paper exports and
one sixth of its paper board exports. Germany is the largest
importer of Finnish paper products.
Long-term moratorium urgently
While the temporary halt to logging is a significant
development, unfortunately it does not mean that the destruction of
Finland's ancient forests is over. A long-term moratorium is
urgently needed to save Finland's last unprotected old growth
is not clear whether the temporary halt to logging operations will
continue after the meeting on 13 August, until a final agreement is
reached about the disputed old-growth areas. These critical areas
are the habitats of threatened and vulnerable species and the
traditional livelihoods of the indigenous Sami and Finnish people
who herd reindeer in these forests. Only five percent of Finland's
forests are considered old growth forests of which remarkably only
half of this is protected from industrial logging.
Greenpeace continues to campaign to save Finland's last
unprotected old growth forests and the rest of the world's last