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Finland forest protected: 80,000 hectares of green cover rescued from industrial logging

In a significant win for environmental activists, 80,000 hectares of forests in Finland have been won protection under a landmark deal.

Metsahallitus, a forest enterprise controlled by the Finnish government, have agreed to preserve 80 percent of 107,000 hectares of pine forests in northern Finland. The area, which serves as a grazing land for the reindeer, includes tracts of old growth forest.

The decision comes after an 8-year battle by Greenpeace and Finland’s indigenous Saami reindeer herders.

Courtesy of Greenpeace.

Greenpeace applauded the move.

“Greenpeace, reindeer herders and Saami organizations carried out a historical joint campaign, and industrial logging has now been pushed out of the most important forest areas in Finland,” said Matti Liimatainen Greenpeace Nordic forest campaigner. “Reindeer herding is an important employer in the Saami’s homeland. Protecting the forests not only helps the Saami protect their livelihood, but also prevents the loss of biodiversity and animals, insects and fungi that have disappeared with other European forest ecosystems.”

“We are very satisfied with the result.”

The campaign included massive protests and demonstrations in Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Italy against the Finnish paper industry. Court cases were also filed by the Saami reindeer herders against logging in Finland, resulting in a ruling by the UN Human Rights Committee which compelled the Finnish government to cease logging in some of the disputed areas. In 2006, the Finnish paper company StoraEnso stopped purchasing wood from the disputed areas, reducing logging.

But while the agreement is a welcome reprieve for environmentalists, Greenpeace says other threats remain, including mining and hotel development on the protected shorelines of Inari lake.

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