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Swedish state-owned forest company accused of abusing Sámi rights

Stockholm, Sweden – WEBWIRE

Sweden’s largest forest company, state-owned Sveaskog, has repeatedly ignored Sámi rights and logged old growth forest on ancestral lands vital to reindeer herding around Muonio Sámi reindeer herding district in Sweden’s north. Sveaskog has also stopped all consultation processes with the community. The Muonio Sámi reindeer herding district and Greenpeace Sweden demand that Sveaskog immediately withdraw all logging processes in the area.

Katarina Sevä, reindeer herder and board member of Muonio Sámi reindeer herding district, said:

“Sveaskog’s logging practice is a catastrophe for the Muonio reindeer herding district. During the last two years, Sveaskog has stopped all consultation processes with us and cut down all the forests that we specifically asked them not to. If this continues, it will be the end of reindeer husbandry in Muonio.” 

Muonio Sámi reindeer herding district is on the border between Sweden and Finland. For centuries reindeer husbandry has been a vital part of the livelihood and culture of the community. The area is also home to some of the last natural forests in Sweden, so-called continuity forests, that have not been clear-cut previously. 

State-owned forest company Sveaskog, the biggest forest company in Sweden, submitted some 100 logging notifications in the area. Mapping done by Greenpeace shows that these coincide to a large extent with continuity forests. These forests are vital to reindeer husbandry, since they are the natural source of ground and hanging lichens — the predominant diet of the reindeer. A large proportion of old growth forests in the area have already been clear-cut by Sveaskog, despite the fact that they form crucial reindeer pastures. 

“Sweden likes to portray itself as an environmental and human rights leader. This hypocrisy is laid bare by this example of its state-owned company consistently trampling the rights of the Indigenous peoples and devastating the last remains of old-growth forests,” said Dima Litvinov, Senior Campaigner with Greenpeace Sweden.

Muonio Sámi reindeer herding district and Greenpeace demand  in a joint letter to Sveaskog that the company immediately stop all logging and withdraw the logging notifications in the area until it resumes consultation processes with the reindeer herding district .

“Sveaskog must immediately stop all logging in the area until they resume consultations with us under acceptable conditions”, said Katarina Sevä, reindeer herder and board member of Muonio Sámi reindeer herding district.


Facts about Sveaskog´s logging plan in Muonio Sámi reindeer herding

The Muonio Sámi reindeer herding district is located in the northmost part of Sweden, bordering Finland. Their reindeer pastures cover 3640 square kilometres in Pajala municipality with permits to keep up to 3900 reindeer in winter. 

Reindeer herding forms the basis of traditional economy for the Sámi and is an integral part of the Sámi identity.

State owned forest company Sveaskog has submitted a total of 101 notifications for logging to The Swedish Forest Agency in the area of Muonio Sámi reindeer herding district in the northernmost part of Sweden, bordering Finland. 

The combined areas of logging make up an area of almost 2000 hectares, more than 2800 football pitches. The Swedish Forest Agency themselves state that they have only examined two of these areas in the field, meaning that the government agency cannot know what type of values these forests possess.

A mapping done by Greenpeace Sweden shows that the majority of the forests Sveaskog plans to log are old forests with high conservation values that are also vital to reindeer husbandry. At least 40 of the areas are made up completely of continuity forests that have never been subject to clear-cuts. Almost as many are partly made up of continuity forests.

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