Felling in Upper Lapland continues inside
reindeer feeding enclosures
Tougher measures have been introduced in the Upper Lapland felling dispute. In pursuance of its hard-line policy, Metsähallitus, the state enterprise supplying wood to the forest industry, has now started felling inside a reindeer feeding enclosure south of the village of Nellim, an area known as the region's best winter grazing ground for the livestock.
Within the neighbouring reindeer-grazing association of Paatsjoki, Metsähallitus has also extended the felling inside a reindeer enclosure.
The reindeer herders have taken offence at the felling, for animals have just been gathered inside the fences for the autumn round-up and slaughtering. The felling complicates the feeding and slaughtering of the reindeer. Psychologically, the timing of the felling is considered ill-judged.
Metsähallitus argues that the Ivalo reindeer-grazing association has approved of the felling.
In reality, practically every single reindeer herder in Nellim opposes the logging.
Within the Ivalo reindeer-grazing association, however, they represent the minority, for they own only a third of the approximately 6,000 reindeer in the region.
The toughening of measures was one of the reasons that sparked the environmental interest group Greenpeace to launch its campaigning in the far north.
On Monday, the environmental interest group used rubber boats in an attempt to blockade a cargo vessel in the Ajos Harbour in the northern city of Kemi.
"Our protest was directed against the paper manufacturing group Stora Enso, which buys Metsähallitus logs felled in the Upper Lapland", Greenpeace information officer Mikael Sjövall explains.
Greenpeace reported on the situation in Upper Lapland at a press conference held in Helsinki on Tuesday.
Within the reindeer-grazing association of Paatsjoki, north of the River Näätämö, Metsähallitus has also extended their logging inside a reindeer enclosure in Suovaselkä, close to the Norwegian border.
"Usually Metsähallitus has spared areas crucial to reindeer herding. I tried to ask them to spare at least the southern parts of the grazing area, but now it seems the felling is extending there as well", frets reindeer herder Petri Hänninen.
Another reindeer herder, Kalevi Paadar, suspects the latest fellings inside the grazing enclosures are a measure of revenge. Previously Metsähallitus had informed of seven new areas to which felling would be extended. Now the new figure is 14.
With his brothers Eero and Veijo, Kalevi Paadar has filed a complaint against Metsähallitus.
Two weeks agothe local district court imposed a moratorium on logging in the Nellim area. The law also makes it possible to demand a bond from those filing the complaint. Metsähallitus has made use of this possibility.
Since the Paadar brothers have stated they are unable to meet the undefined bond, Metsähallitus has continued logging in the area.
"In reality, reindeer herders are unable to defend themselves by means of legal proceedings. The felling should definitely be halted for the duration of the proceedings without a requirment to put up a bond", professor of international law Martin Scheinin says.
Forestry director Hannu Jokinen from Metsähallitus claims his organisation is not contravening the Finnish constitution, the law on reindeer herding, or any international agreements. "This has been established in numerous court hearings", he says.
Scheinin, in turn, stated in the Greenpeace press meeting that the felling is in violation of Finland's human rights commitments.
"Finland is in violation against the United Nations general agreement on citizens' rights and political rights, which Finland ratified in 1976. The UN human rights committee has also established that Finland contravenes the agreement when allowing the felling", Scheinin told the press.
Finland's Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Juha Korkeaoja (Centre Party) repeated in the ministry's Tuesday announcement that Metsähallitus has acted in accordance with the law in Upper Lapland. The Saami issues have been handled with due process, he stated.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Greenpeace protesters blockade ship in Kemi harbour (8.11.2005)
Greenpeace sends truckload of logging waste from Finnish Lapland to Germany (1.11.2005)