Finnish state company Metsähallitus is logging old-growth forests in Karelia, Finland

9th December 2014

The Finnish-Karelian forests that are home to epic poems, age-old oral histories, traditions and cultures face clear-cut logging. Moratorium is needed at once.

Metsähallitus State Enterprise in Finland has been in breach of its PEFC Certificate[1] for decades in Karelia. The company is logging old growth and natural forests despite local opposition. For example; already in 1990s it planned to clear-fell old-growth forests in the area of Raesärkkä, Nurmes, in North Karelia. This November clear-cuts proceeded on the culturally relevant Viena Karelia area[2] despite local opposition. These actions are in direct violation of its PEFC Certification, which explicitly states that, the purpose of it:

Is tailored to the specific needs of family– and community-owned forests, with lasting contributions to livelihoods and rural development

- Sets the highest standards for forest certification aligned with the majority of the world’s governments, including…. Recognizing the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

In Kontiolahti, North Karelia, Metsähallitus has placed an old-growth forest under economic forestry, after clear-cutting on the lot in 2009-2011. The forest is under threat, even though Metsähallitus has come out with a statement otherwise[3].

The lot can be sold and/or cut immediately when local and international attention eases on the situation. Only direct opposition to the forestry plans has forced the company to issue a formal statement on their intentions.

Ostola Forest, the last of the unprotected boreal forests in the Finnish-Karelian homeland area of Selkie, is targeted for total destruction by Finnish Logging Company Metsähallitus. Since Metsähallitus has been clear-cutting many old-growth forests in villages of Karelia across Finland despite local opposition, it is greatly feared that Ostola Forest will join all the other boreal forest landscapes that have been, and are actively being, annihilated.

This forest has become internationally known for its community relevance and biodiversity, being home to large boreal mammals such as the European Brown Bear, Wolverine, Lynx, visiting Boreal Wolf and EU Directive –relevant bird species, including several Owl species, the Greenish Warbler, Capercaillie and Forest Grouse. It is the last of the unprotected boreal forests in the area. US nature documentary has been filmed there. In 2013 the Ministry of Environment urged Metsähallitus to conserve this forest – in vain.

Ostola forest is now seeking to become a member of the international, UN-recognized network of Indigenous and Local Community Conserved Areas. During the World Parks Congress held recently in Australia, the Head of the Conservation of Biological Conservation and Global Environmental Facility of the United Nations listened with surprise and concern to the urgency of the situation of the Ostola forest and the planned Metsähallitus clear-cuts. An international outcry has arisen over Metsähallitus’ plans, but the company remains poised to move on its plans to sell or clear-cut in the very near future unless a moratorium is put into effect as soon as possible.

Snowchange Cooperative is the organization leading the effort to protect Ostola Forest.

You can learn more here.

Tero Mustonen, Ph.D.

Lead Author, Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, Arctic Council

Founder and President, Snowchange Cooperative (Finland)

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