Turn the page and the forests are Finnished

Feature story - 25 April, 2003
Europe is known more for its ancient cities than ancient forests. And if Finnish paper companies have their way, there may soon be nothing left of the old forests that once covered most of Europe. But Greenpeace activists confronted paper imports in Germany to expose the ongoing destruction of Finland's forests.

Greenpeace activists paint 'Forest Crime in Europe' on the hull of a paper carried to expose the ongoing destruction of European ancient forests in Finland.

The Greenpeace activists onboard inflatable boats intercepted the paper carrier "Finn Hawk" as it entered the Baltic Port of Luebeck in Germany. As the Finn Hawk navigated towards its berth, the activists painted "Forest Crime in Europe" on the hull of the ship to expose the ongoing destruction of European ancient forests in Finland.

The Finn Hawk is loaded with paper products from the Finnish paper companies Stora Enso and M-Real; both continue to buy wood for its products from the last of Finland's ancient forests. Other activists on the pier held a banner that read "Forest ministers of Europe: save our ancient forests".

We want European ministers to make the right decisions to increase ancient forest protection in Europe during next week's Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe taking place in Vienna.

Even after numerous conversations over the last 12 months, the paper companies have taken no real measures to stop the destruction of ancient forests in Finland. In fact, they are peddling their ancient forest destruction to Europe and the rest of the world.

Only a few areas of Europe's formerly vast ancient forests still exist in Finland. Less than five percent of the current Finnish forest cover is ancient forest and only half of that is protected from industrial logging and further destruction.

These forests are crucial for maintaining biodiversity and the traditional livelihoods of the indigenous Sami and other traditional communities. In the north-eastern part of Finland, many ancient forest areas are still unprotected and are being destroyed by the state-owned forest enterprise Metsahallitus.

The main customers for the timber harvested by Metsahallitus are three international paper companies. This ancient forest timber is processed into pulp, magazine grade, fine paper and cardboard in the Finnish paper mills of Stora Enso, UPM Kymmene and M-Real then shipped to destinations in Europe and overseas. The ancient forests ends up as copy paper, envelopes, packaging, and in a range of publications from magazines and newspapers to advertising flyers.

Currently, very few ancient forests and high conservation value forests are protected in Europe. Greenpeace is calling on European ministers to make real decisions to further the protection of the last ancient forests instead of only stressing sustainable forest management, which can not adequately protect Europe's forests alone.

What can you do?

To make sure you are not buying products coming from ancient forest destruction, look for the FSC® logo.

The FSC®, or Forest Stewardship Council™, is an international non-profit organisation that issues certificates for well managed forests and was created so that corporate buyers and individual consumers can identify products coming from responsible forest management. Look for the FSC® logo to the left on wood and paper products to make sure you aren't buying forest destruction or supporting illegal logging around the world.

When buying paper products, look closely to make sure they are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper or other agricultural waste.