A Christmas gift for Rudolph
How your choice of wrapping paper and cards can benefit our forests
Published: 2 December 2016
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
Reindeer are incredible animals that possess several adaptations to extremely cold weather that allow them to survive in some of the world’s toughest conditions.
Sadly, even their special survival features haven’t protected them from global decline, caused by factors including competition for resources, illegal logging and deforestation. But logging can be done responsibly and managed to make sure the area remains a forest in the long term, and continues to provide shelter and food for reindeer and other animals.
SWEDEN, LAND OF FORESTS
More than half of Sweden (69%) is covered with forests; with almost 10% of the world’s sawn timber, pulp and paper exports coming from Sweden, timber production is crucial to the national economy.
Twelve million hectares – around 40% – of Swedish forests are Forest Stewardship Council© (FSC©) certified. FSC helps take care of forests, as well as the people and wildlife calling them home, and its global forest certification system lets people buy forest products with confidence that they’re helping to protect our forests for generations to come.
‘FSC provides one way for the Sami people to continue their traditional way of life of reindeer herding.’
OLOF T. JOHANSSON
A WAY OF LIFE
FSC certification has brought with it positive changes for the indigenous Sami population. The Sami live in north-western Sweden and traditionally gain their livelihoods from reindeer herding.During the winter the semi-wild reindeer herds migrate from the mountains to the valley forests.
Although the Sami people have customary rights to graze their reindeer in these forests, where, when and how is not specified in law.
A large part of the forest area in the region is managed by FSC certified forest companies; here the Sami are consulted about how forest management activities affect their ability to feed and move their herds.
In Sweden, as the forests are primarily boreal (cold, temperate, dominated by taiga and forests of birch, poplar and conifers), ‘clear-cutting’ has been used for over a century. A clear-cut is an area in the forest where most of the trees are logged in a single operation. The area is then typically replanted within two years of harvest.
FSC demands that all trees valuable for biodiversity are retained during harvesting. Hollow trees, canopy trees and old trees that have survived disturbances are valuable for many species and are used by more vertebrates and insects than regular mature trees.
The FSC standard does not allow clear-cutting in key woodland habitats or areas of forest that have particularly high importance for social or environmental reasons. A minimum of 5% of a company’s forest area is excluded from harvesting in order to maintain the biodiversity of the forest and ensure winter pastures for the Sami people’s reindeer and recreational needs.
BURNING FOR BIODIVERSITY
Forest fires are important for forest ecology; in fact, storms and forest fires are the two most important naturally recurring disturbance regimes in the forest landscape.
Swedish forests have historically burned every 20 to 200 years, creating a mosaic forest landscape with trees of different ages.
There are over 100 insect and fungus species that only occur in recently burned forests and several species of bryophyte and lichen also depend on or favour forest fires.
Reindeer are the only mammal able to eat lichen, which provides an important winter food source. Managers of large FSC certified forests in Sweden are required to burn at least 5% of their regeneration area every five years in order to maintain or enhance biodiversity.
A GIFT TO THE FORESTS
The FSC label can be found on many wood and paper products, including Christmas cards, wrapping paper, gift tags and even real Christmas trees. Choose FSC this Christmas and give a gift to the world’s forests.
Click here for a full list of FSC certified products and suppliers.