Sweden, Forest Rebellion’s nonviolent protest: “Government’s green transition is removing forests…

Sweden, Forest Rebellion’s nonviolent protest: “Government’s green transition is removing forests…

Fight against the green transition that is damaging the ecosystems of Sweden and the Arctic. For this reason Sofia Olson36, joined the nonviolent protest movement forest rebellion. As an environmental activist, she probably never expected to oppose some of her country’s government’s environmental policies. In fact, the Stockholm government has been one of the most active in Europe in the fight against climate change in recent years: it has pledged to cut net carbon emissions by 2045, five years ahead of the continent’s average. To achieve this goal, it has approved numerous projects to construct wind power, hydroelectric power and wood-based biofuel plants. Even the renewable However, you have one environmental costs: make place at new infrastructurecome many areas in the north of the country cut down and their ecosystems are being destroyed. For this reason, Olsson decided to support the struggle of the Sami – an indigenous people living in the region Lapland, including Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia – to retake and protect their territories expropriated by the government: “What is happening now is only part of the long process of injustice that has affected this people”. A number of internationally renowned activists also came to support the community in northern Sweden. The German Carola Schlagte – Note in Italy in case of ship fall Sea Watch of 2019 – joined “the protest campaign Forest Rebellion in Muonio”. Greta ThunbergAlthough she was not “directly involved in Forest Rebellion, she worked with young Sami activists (mainly from the youth organisation). Saminuorra)” to discuss the reopening of mining operations by Gallok. “A lot of them come from the south,” explains Ollson, who comes from western Sörmland. “We rent houses and stay near the Sumi for a few weeks.” Like many of his peers, the environmentalist, who works for a nonprofit, has had to “re-schedule my commitments and my life to make it more flexible.” But she has no regrets: her goal is to protect the forests she has loved since childhood, to support the Sami people and to understand how to help the workers of the north, very often linked to the forestry and mining industries .

Scandinavia, record temperatures: over 30 degrees in Sweden, between drought and fires

also read

Scandinavia, record temperatures: over 30 degrees in Sweden, between drought and fires

How was Forest Rebellion born?

In Sweden there has recently been a growing demand for green projects for the ecological energy transition: windmills or turbines for hydroelectric power, green mines or wood for biofuels. However, the realization of all this requires the destruction of many forests or excavations for infrastructure or burying of waste. It takes a long time for the soil to recover from these interventions. Then the territories for these plants are taken away from the Sami. The government takes them as needed. These people are now trying to assert their rights: they have said ‘no’ to a number of projects, through a number of consultations, but the government has always found a way around them. For this, some Sami activists are part of the network of Extinction Rebellion Sweden, founded Forest Rebellion. We are now a movement that wants to change the way we sustain our nation and our relationship with the planet.

When did you decide to join the movement?

I’ve been with them since their first action. It was located near the offices of a state forest management company in November 2020. It was the height of Covid and we were like, ‘How do we raise our voice, how do we do that while following safety protocols? Even then we had a clear collaboration between Sami and Extinction Rebellion Sweden. In the following two weeks there were further actions in different forests. There was one again in the summer of 2021 and the commitment has grown. The issues of the climate crisis and biodiversity are multiple, but I have chosen to focus my energy on the here and now. Forest Rebellion tries to help with non-violent civil disobedience. We stand in front of the cars and stop them with our bodies. The community is very organized and has a lot of natural knowledge. We activists try to learn from them.

What is the most urgent measure to save Swedish nature?

Stop the exploitation of forests and the destruction of ecosystems by big industries. But also think long-term about how you can create a just society, especially now with projects that seem to be moving towards a green transition but could harm the environment.

You talk about big industries exploiting the forests. What do you do?

Just look at the size of their activities and the amounts of money they can move to realize how much power the forest industry has in Sweden. In fact, we have a lot of trees: they cover about two-thirds of our territory. That sounds like a high percentage, but the reality is that most of these forested areas are unsustainable. Many areas have been deforested. The plants have been cut down to replant what are actually monocultures, not true forests. This phenomenon reduces our ability to absorb CO2. Also, it makes breeding impossible reindeer, practiced by the Sami for centuries: the animals have no food, no trees and bushes. Even I, who have always felt connected to the forest since my childhood, didn’t know what a real forest was until recently. I used to walk between plantations.

Why are trees cut down to replant others?

For the construction and production of biofuels, especially in recent times with the war in Ukraine and plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The energy produced by burning the wood can help replace that fossil fuels. In the mainstream narrative, it’s a much-noticed solution. They tell us: “We need more trees”. In fact, there is the idea that trees can solve everything without forcing us to change our lives and take more sustainable actions. So we take, we take, we take from the forests, but we don’t realize that trees are not a renewable resource. You will not solve everything yourself. Unfortunately, the situation is more complex.

Earlier he said that there are other projects that threaten the Swedish forests. Which are they?

That mines. Here are some of the largest in the world, particularly in iron, and many others will be built over the next few years. There are now plans to create some ecologically sustainable ones. But how do they manage to be “green projects”? Many forests are cleared due to excavations, and soils and ecosystems are severely damaged. There are also many projects for wind farms in northern Sweden and for water turbines. Those who live in the south have no idea, they are not used to seeing them. They are very large and destined to remain in the midst of ecosystems for long periods of time. Their noise frightens the reindeer, who perceive them as predators and move away from their territories. Then it is cleared to build new roads, infrastructure and bridges.

What do Swedes think of Forest Rebellion?

Many come to us, they are curious, but also sad or frustrated. Some thank us and are happy, others say: “Why didn’t you come 20 years ago when you could still do something? Now there are few things left”. There is also someone who does not understand this and tells us that many small individual protests are useless, but what counts for us is the overall result of the movement. Power is concentrated in southern Sweden, but the people of the north see what is happening with their own eyes and wake up. Awareness grows. However, the real problem is that the question of forestry is a lot polarizing.

How do you mean?

Some of the forests are owned by the state, others are owned by large entrepreneurs who can choose what story they want to tell about themselves. Newspapers and television make it seem like they only do good. In addition, there are many in northern Sweden who rely on them to live and work. These industries build infrastructure, enable their children to go to school and finance the local economy. When it comes to them, many Swedes take it personally. The same goes for mines. Now there is a lot of talk about the iron mine Gallok: Opening would lead to mass destruction of biodiversity, but lead to many jobs for 15 years. We at Forest Rebellion therefore ask ourselves how we can coexist these different needs: how we can use nature sustainably and what returns people can have.