Swedish forest owners must pay more attention to protected species
the Swedish Forest Agency informs that Swedish forest owners must take more responsibility to protect protected species during forestry operations. For example, all species of birds must be considered because they are protected according to the Species Protection Ordinance. This is the result of indicative court decisions at national level in Sweden and the EU.
More attention to protected species
“There is a new order in the forest, and we understand that this means a major change for forest owners,” says Göran Rune of the Forestry Agency and continues, “But the legal developments are clear and forest owners and us as the authority must gradually adapt to this.
Several court decisions over the past year show that the prohibitions of the Species Protection Ordinance must be strictly observed when it comes to birds and protected species. Court rulings also show that many more logging cases handled by the Forestry Agency, where protected species are at risk, must be dealt with in accordance with Environmental Code.
In the Environmental Code, it is clearly stated that there is a demand for knowledge on the part of those who plan or carry out forestry operations. This means that it is the responsibility of the forest owner or timber harvester/buyer to find out whether there are protected species and to prevent them from being damaged during forestry operations.
EU affects Swedish practice
A judgment of the European Court of Justice from March 2021 showed that parts of the Swedish application of the Species Protection Ordinance were not compatible with EU law. Sweden’s previous practice was that bans were only valid if the conservation status of the species was compromised.
Some of the changes the decisions have led to include:
– The forest owner is obliged to individually protect all species of wild birds, as all wild birds are protected in accordance with the Species Protection Ordinance.
– The forest owner is also required to protect other protected species of fauna and flora during forestry operations.
– Prior to a felling operation, the forest owner is required to acquire the necessary knowledge to prevent protected species from being affected in a manner contrary to the law.
– The Swedish Forestry Agency will require more than before additional documents and inquiries from the forest owner regarding protected species that may be affected.
More information to come
“The Forestry Agency must, as an authority, follow the laws, regulations and court decisions in force. More advice will be needed in the near future on how to handle this. We know that further decisions are pending in ongoing court cases,” says Andrea Airosto, a lawyer at the Swedish Forestry Agency.
More information will come.