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Protect all of Karatj-Råvvåive

Foto: Marcus Westberg

The scientific evidence is clear – protecting the last remaining old-growth forests is our best tool in the battle against climate change! Preserved healthy forests lower the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Protecting old-growth and large pristine forests like Karatj-Råvvåive, which is part of Europe’s few remaining intact forest landscapes, is of such tumescence importance for all of us I feel the need to remind you what’s at stake, says Lina Burnelius from Protect the Forest Sweden.  

At current emission levels, our remaining carbon budget will be gone within little but a decade. That is if we are to have a 67% chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Every decision made during this brief moment in time counts and the challenge is to respect human rights and implement scientific evidence-based policies that enable everyone to meet their needs – within the means of the planet.

We urgently need to ensure that no one falls short on lives essentials whilst ensuring that we collectively stop the overdraft of our planetary boundaries. Few topics, as well as the way we carry out our relationship to land, represents both the challenges – and the solutions – to the same dilemma. 

Due to lower the already too high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, whilst halting the loss of biodiversity on earth is of utmost importance naturally, decisions that would result in the opposite, like allowing further fragmentation of Europe’s very few last intact and primary forest landscapes, will have devastating consequences. 

However, even though the entire Karatj-Råvvåive forest was originally planned to be given long-term formal protection, this is now under threat because Swedish authorities are wavering in fulfilling the plan. 

And before you thinking of replying to me with greenwashing about “sustainable logging” or fast-growing stocks: No, not inventions that might be ready in the future, neither our tree-plantations nor climate-compensation schemes in any shape or form, will serve as a truly functional puzzle-piece to the climate-mitigation puzzle. Protecting healthy nature and all its biodiversity will though. 

In the old-growth Karatj-Råvvåive forest was over 1,500 individual findings of 85 different red-listed species made. Moreover, the forest is key for the survival of Sami community Tuorpon and their reindeer husbandry culture. Today, indigenous societies are standing on the last frontier, literally losing their culture and risking their lives to safeguard what keeps all of us safe, i.e. healthy nature and rich biodiversity.

Therefore, the best way for everyones sake is to start respecting indigenous rights to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). In other words, nothing should happen to – or affect – these people’s rights to their land or resources. This must always apply, also in the far north of Sweden! 

In addition, a recently published scientific article shows that even though timber production increased up to a forest age of 70-100 years, which is when forests are normally felled, the highest levels of most other ecosystem services were found in forests older than 120 years. In addition, forests older than 120 years were able to deliver more different ecosystem services at the same time than younger forests. The study is based on data from the Swedish National Forest Inventory and supports previous studies.

Therefore, mixed stands and stands that are allowed to grow older than 100 years are of outermost importance, if we aim to create forests that also deliver ecosystem services other than timber. These services are, among many others: the growth of berries and mushrooms, clean water, recreation spots, fire barriers, deadwood in order to halt the ongoing loss of biodiversity. By preserving these valuable areas, you will save both biodiversity and the carbon-storages held in the trees, and foremost – on this latitude – in the soils.  

Dear Christian Rimpi, steward at Jokkmokks Allmänning, Herman Sundqvist, Director-General at Swedish Forest Agency, Carina Olofsson Boström, at Swedish Forest Agency in Norrbotten, Björn O. Nilsson, County Governor in Norrbotten, Per-Anders Jonsson, County Administrative Board of Norrbotten – the Karatj-Råvvåive area, with all its values for carbon storage, biodiversity and importance for Tuorpon Sami community, is still intact.

It is your responsibility, and yours only, to keep it that way. I urge you to stand your ground against pressure from the forest industry and keep the carbon, where it belongs, in the ground. 

To create so-called eco-parks in Karatj-Råvvåive, with such high conservation value, is nothing but pure green-washing and nothing else than a loophole for the forest industry to continue to cut down old-growth forests. And no! They will not be able to carry out “sustainable forestry” in the area. Clear-cutting forest and replanting trees is not sustainable forestry. No! Nature does not need anyone to “manage its biodiversity”. No! We do not need single-used products, nor biofuels. We need climate-justice and respect for human rights!

Today’s conversion from natural forest to plantations releases greenhouse gases, not the other way around. We need you to stop the expansions into our last remaining untouched forest landscapes! 

Lina Burnelius, Climate-justice and Land-use Expert, board member Protect the Forest, Sweden 

The organization Protect the Forest Sweden strongly opposes these plans and is now launching an international campaign in order to raise awareness of the threat against the forest. The organization has made a film and urges everyone to sign a petition, which will be sent to the authorities before their eco-park investigation is finished this fall.


This is an opinion piece published for Supermiljöbloggens debate forum. The opinions in the article belongs to the writer. The article i also available in Swedish.

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    SMB kämpar för en hållbar framtid. Sedan starten 2010 har våra utgifter helt täckts av oss skribenter. Nu vill vi utveckla vårt arbete – och vi hoppas att du vill hjälpa oss.

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