Finnish firm must not turn reindeer forests to pulp

Finland's largest paper company has been urged by environmentalists to defend the reindeer forests of Arctic Lapland and the Sami reindeer herders whose livelihood depends on them.

A report was presented to Finnish firm Storna Enso at their annual general meeting of investors by Greenpeace, along with a shareholder resolution requesting that the company’s purchase of timber from Metashallitus: “shall not be procured from specific restricted forest areas in the Lapp peoples’ native locality in Inari that are considered especially valuable for reindeer herding as reindeer grazing forest areas”.

The resolution was presented by two Sami Lapp natives from Inari in northern Finland.

“Reindeer herding is the basis of traditional Sami culture, but the Finnish state has ignored the rights of Sami people for decades by continuing to prioritise logging over reindeer herding,” Inari local Janne Saijets stated. “Our reindeer forests have been sold out for pulp production – enough is enough!”

After establishing a forest rescue station in one of the threatened reindeer forests, Greenpeace asked Stora Enso customers to help convince the company to stop buying from forest areas used for reindeer herding to produce their paper.

The Xerox Corporation recently informed Greenpeace that its copy paper products would no longer contain fibres from the Sami reindeer forests – international campaigner for Greenpeace Phil Aikman stated that it was now time for the Finnish paper firm to follow suit.

“Stora Enso has become under increasing pressure to finally end its role in supporting this conflict in the Sami homeland,” he said. “It is time for the company to listen to their customers and defend the reindeer forests rather than turning them to pulp.”

However, deputy CEO at Stora Enso, Bjorn Hagglund said that the company was deeply concerned about the socio-economic implications of their activities in the north of Finland, adding that discussions with local Sami people should go underway soon to find a solution to suit everyone involved.

“We need to find a balance between forestry and reindeer herding,” Mr Hagglund said. “Local people are the best experts of their own conditions, therefore the solutions are best found on a regional level.”

But he added that he felt local bio-diversity had already been secured in the area, due to the exceptionally high number of protected areas.

By Jane Kettle

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