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Risk of failure protecting old forests

Old mixed forest in autumn colours with beard lichen in the foreground.
Photo by Ulrika Ervander

Old- growth forests are to a large extent unprotected to logging, and the rate of cutting them down is high, not least in Sweden. Even protected forests are at risk, and the EU is on the way to failure, writes researches from Europe and USA in a debate article in Science.

The pressure on Europe´s biomass rich old-growth forests have increased with the rising prices, and the logging rate was already high. Furthermore; as land-owners see a potential stronger protection in the future, they may be motivated to log as much as possible before this is implemented. Today, the monitoring of forests is scarce, even more adding to the risk of logging. 

Without bold and swift action, Europe risks irreparable loss to its natural heritage

The European comission has earlier this year suggested guidelines for mapping and protecting the old-growth forests across Europe by the end of 2029. According to the authors of the debate article in Science, the guidelines are weak protection for the forests, and claims that "the EU is on track to fail its 2030 goals", referring to the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.

These ecosystems have a high and unique biodiversity,  big importance on water and nutrient cycling, as well as storing carbon. The authors suggests an immediate logging moratorium for areas of potential old-growth forests in Europe.

Source: Science VOL. 380, NO. 6644, Letters p 466.