ROME, ITALY -- March 16 -- Greenpeace activists today appealed to the Finnish Prime Minister to save the Sámi reindeer forests. The activists unfurled at banner - Stop Trashing Sámi Reindeer Forests - from the roof of the UN headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). A truck load of wood chips were deposited in front of the building to highlight the fact that the Finnish government is turning the reindeer forests into wood chips for pulp and paper production.|
The Prime Minister of Finland, Matti Vanhanen, is visiting Rome to open a Finnish Forestry Room in the FAO building. The government claims that the meeting room "represents an important aspect of their national culture."
"Whilst the Finnish Prime Minister travels abroad to celebrate its national culture, his government back home has been busy making money from destroying the livelihood of Sámi reindeer herders," said Matti Liimatainen, Greenpeace forests campaigner. "Traditional free-grazing reindeer herding forms the basis of Sámi indigenous culture, but its future hangs in the balance as the government refuses to seek a long-term solution in the issue."
Through the state-owned forest company Metsähallitus, the Finnish government has been logging in important reindeer grazing areas to supply Finnish pulp mills with cheap raw materials (1). In 2003 the reindeer herders together with Greenpeace and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) mapped out forest areas essential for winter grazing. Over 90% of the mapped forest areas were found to be old-growth forest.
"Speaking from Rome, Ms Sini Harkki from FANC said: "It is time for the Finnish
government to live up to its national and international responsibilities and protect Lapland's old growth forests and the rights of the Sámi to practise traditional reindeer herding. If this issue continues to be ignored, the future of traditional free-grazing reindeer herding remains uncertain. We can not let
At the beginning of March, Greenpeace established a Forest Rescue Station in one of the threatened reindeer forest areas to highlight the ongoing destruction by Metsähallitus, the Finnish government's logging company and those paper companies that continue to buy this destruction (2)
Notes to Editor:
1. Up to 90% of Metsähallitus's turnover comes from the sale of timber. The Finnish State is also the single largest shareholder in the main company that buys pulp logs coming from these areas, owning nearly one quarter of the voting shares in the Finnish-Swedish paper giant StoraEnso.
2. A weblog documenting the activities of the Forest Rescue Station can be seen at: weblog.greenpeace.org/forestrescue/