Saving Old-growth Forests

The devastating deforestation of the old-growth forests across Asia, Africa and America is a terrible waste and painful to witness. Even worse is the realization that this has already happened in Europe. Almost all original forests have been razed and burned as charcoal to drive the industrial revolutions and population explosion. Of course the commercial use of fossile coal took over in importance during the 19th century, but then most of the European forests were already gone.

The ecological richness of an old-growth forest is amazing. Layer upon layer is growing and decomposing and growing again. There is life everywhere, all the from the rich topsoils up to the canopy of the giants towering over the understory. The black soil in a European forest is organic matter decomposing slowly, helped by fungi, insects, worms and bacteria. The rich black soil that the forests “produce” is what agriculture turns into food. (However, at some point of time the soil is depleted, and the grain field turns into deserts. Better to get some trees back before that happens! In Greece they didn’t…)

One of the few old-growth forests in Western Sweden - Iglekärr.

One of the few old-growth forests in Western Sweden – Iglekärr. [photo from Naturarvet.se]


Modern European forests are usually planted monocultures with a single-age “crop” growing for timber and paper pulp. The trees are beautiful, but the richness of an original forest is gone. It is a bit like a wheat field at an organic farm. Not really biodiverse, but not the worst kind of ecological abuse.

There are still some old-growth forests in the world and we should do what we can to protect them and to learn from their richness and beauty. We need to find ways to value the biodiversity in ways that express the uniqueness and the vital contribution to the planet that these forests generate. Otherwise, they will also end up as toilet paper or charcoal and leave a “commercially attractive” corn field in it’s wake.

In Sweden, there is a foundation that collects money to purchase and “archive” some of the last fragments of old-growth forest, called “Naturarvet“.
We did a donation for uncle Hugo for his birthday, see the happy face on the page here – a symbol for the contribution to a small piece of conservation.

Donation page for the Iglekärr forest, 35 km north of Göteborg. This is one way of privately protecting the last forests.

Donation page for the Iglekärr forest, 35 km north of Göteborg. This is one way of privately protecting the last forests.

Of course this is not a guarantee that it will stay “forever”.
Every legal protection can be torn apart if society develops differently. There are few ecological concerns in East Ukraine today… It is the same in semi-corrupt societies over the whole world.
Therefore, the protection of the last forests depend on a working legal system, protection and prosecution, as well as cultural taboos on killing these natural heritages.

Let’s work together to expand the Nature reserves, and to strengthen the civil society to safeguard the development of a strong legal protection for the ecological riches that belong to us all and to the planet.

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