Categories: conservation

Forest habitat for lynx is flushed down the toilet

Millions of people are wiping their bums with toilet paper made from old-growth forest in the north of Sweden in which lynx, wolves and reindeer live. The stripped forest is replanted with fast-growing lodgepole pine in which reindeer can’t live because it is too dense. It is also non-native to the region.

Sami reindeer herder. Photograph by Erika Larsen

It is astonishing to me that humans have to make toilet paper from old forests. Why? Why is it being allowed by the Swedish government? Clearly once again money trumps ethics and conservation. It always will. It is just the human way and it won’t stop until there are no forests and no wildlife.

The toilet paper is made in a UK mill in Northumberland. The product is Velvet toilet paper. They receive wood pulp from these Swedish old-growth forests. The business is owned by a Swedish company, Essity. It is the second largest toilet paper producer. You’ll find that large Asian businesses chop down ancient forests in Asia, specifically Borneo, for the same reason: toilet paper.

The area being deforested is used by the Sami indigenous people for winter grazing of reindeer. It is an important habitat for lynx. The lynx is in the same family of wild cat species as the better known American bobcat. They have a very similar appearance.

Greenpeace studied logging plans submitted to the Swedish Forest Agency by Essity’s suppliers and found that the area allocated for logging covered 120 square miles of old-growth forest. It is designated as having a “particularly high ecological preservation value”. All the more reason to protect it.

Sweden’s Environmental Protection Agency assessed the deforestation as part of proposals to protect the forest. I hope they stop it.

‘Velvet’ (toilet paper) is marketed as an environmentally sustainable company. It has a ‘three tree promise’ meaning that it plants three trees for each cut down. Unfortunately this is highly misleading because the replacement trees are unsuitable and the trees chopped down are old forest. This is precious forest that can’t be substituted with fast growing pine.

Essity say that their products are “derived through responsible forest management”. This must be considered misleading in light of this exposé uncovered by Greenpeace.

Source: Times Newspaper and myself as at date of this post.



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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Kind of like those who promote TNR in the UK which drove their one and only Scottish Wildcat to extinction with their invasive species moggies. They're already extinct, in case you don't know that. The amount left aren't enough RNA diversity for a viable/successful species anymore. You're very much to blame for this. I hope the rest of the world finds a way to "thank you" for driving yet another species on our planet to extinction in the UK. Last count was 421 native species in the UK gone forever in the last 200 years from your beliefs, practices, and values. That's over 2 species per year now. Makes you all proud, don' t it. Instead of pointing fingers at people in different countries you'd do well to point them at yourself. You have the worst extinctions track-record of any culture on earth. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

    • I completely agree about the UK track record. It's appalling. I have always said that. I am entitled to discuss world conservation. I am not 'pointing fingers' just reporting. The world is globalised unless you had not noticed.

      Also Britain did most of its destruction of wildlife more than 100 years ago. The US is still slaughtering pumas for fun.

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