UK Government gives green light to extinction and human rights conflict

Press release - 23 August, 2005
Greenpeace today said that the UK Government's freshly watered down timber buying guidelines will give the green light to destroy old-growth Finnish forests, where social conflict continues and logging is threatening to wipe out a number of internationally recognised rare and threatened species.

In June of this year, Metsähallitus, the Finnish state-owned loggingcompany terminated negotiations with the Sámi indigenous peoples,signalling a return to the logging of these ancient forests.  

The indigenous Sámi reindeer herders do not accept logging ofold-growth forests in areas that are crucial for their reindeer-herdinglivelihood. The Sámi Council and Sámi reindeer herders' organisationshave denounced logging by Metsähallitus as threatening theirlivelihood, culture and human rights.

In addition, a recent Greenpeace survey found hundreds of endangeredfungi in areas of ancient forests in Finland that are earmarked forlogging by Metsähallitus. The majority of timber would end up beingturned into paper for magazine publishers. The threatened fungi areknown as polypores, and most often appear on trees, rather than growingfrom the ground. An increasing number of fungi and other species, suchas beetles, have become rare and extinct due to destructive loggingpractises in Finland. Natural old-growth forests (ancient forests) arethe last remaining habitats for such threatened species.

The UK Government recently approved two controversial timbercertification schemes, including the PEFC, which endorses the FinnishForest Certification Scheme. Greenpeace severely criticised the schemefor certifying large-scale unsustainable logging in ancient forestareas as well as the abuse of indigenous people's rights and thedestruction of endangered species habitat.

"This shows the shocking truth behind the Government's woeful decisionto approve this certification scheme as part of its guidance onsustainable timber. They are guilty of rubber stamping the destructionof ancient forests and sanctioning the extinction of rare species,"said Phil Aikman, Greenpeace International Forests campaigner. "We urgeboth the public and private sector to clearly specify FSC on allcontracts in order to guarantee that the timber they are using is fromlegal and sustainable sources."

Other contacts: For more information, contact:Phil Aikman, Greenpeace International Ancient Forests Campaign, +447801212995Gina Sanchez, Greenpeace International Communications, +31627000064