More than half of Sweden is covered by forests. Forestry policies and methods have resulted in the conversion of the forest landscape into industrial forests that lack key features of natural forests.
More than 90 per cent of Swedish forests are, or have been, in commercial use and are affected by systematic forest management. Old, natural forests are and have been clear-cut and replaced by plantations and industrial forests that have low biodiversity values. Only a few per cent of the productive forests below the mountain region (sub-alpine forests) are old-growth forests with high conservation values.
Although, Sweden holds a considerable proportion of the remaining old-growth forests of Europe. Over 1 800 animal and plant species in the Swedish forests are red-listed and many of them are dependent on old trees, dead wood and deciduous trees to survive. In order to reverse the ongoing biodiversity degradation, between 10 and 20 per cent of the total productive forest land below the mountain region need to be protected. There is a consensus among Sweden’s leading biological scientists that the Swedish forest politics is threatening the biological diversity in the forest.
In 2007 only about 3.3 per cent of the Swedish productive forests were formally protected from logging as national parks, nature reserves, habitat protection areas and by nature conservation agreements. Less than 2 per cent of the Swedish forests below the mountain region were formally protected.
One of the Swedish environmental quality objectives, “Sustainable forests”, states that the value of forests and forest land for biological production must be protected and biological diversity safeguarded, by year 2010. A recent review of the national environmental quality objectives concluded that this quality objective will not be achieved by either 2010 or 2020.
In order to live up to national and international obligations, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, Sweden has a legal responsibility to protect the biological diversity and to ensure that forestry operations are carried out in a sustainable fashion.
There are more unprotected High Conservation Value Forests in Sweden which will show up in later updates of the NordicForests.org Map. Download the NordicForests.org Map for Google Earth here .