Tag archives for forest

Protests in Sweden’s own summerhouse

Getting their message out in the Ojnare forest. Photo: Fältbiologerna.

“This country is like one big summerhouse”, said a Chinese man I know the other day. And it’s true, Sweden is a very calm country during summertime.

But there is one conflict which has managed to stay in the newspaper columns all through the lazy summer months, taking place in Sweden’s very summer paradise: The island of Gotland [map], where many Swedes spend their holidays among sandy beaches and picturesque houses.

Here, a limestone extraction company has been given the green light for starting a new quarry. Limestone has been extracted in Gotland for hundreds of years. This specific quarry, though, would be situated right between two Natura 2000 areas, Ojnareskogen, containing threatened species and protecting biodiversity on the island.

This made young people from the environment organisation Fältbiologerna skip their holiday plans and go to Gotland instead. Since early July they have been camping on the prospected land, where a forest management company has started clearing the forest for the future limestone quarry.

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Swedish virgin forests seen through Italian eyes

Mount Tjeburisvárásj in Stora Sjöfallet. Photo: Andrea Barghi.

Being from a country, no matter which, there are of course a number of things you’d like to point out as special or even fantastic. But there’s always the feeling that you are biased and not really credible, a bit like when a parent points out his or her child as the most brilliant kid of all and everyone thinks “yeah, right”.
So when two Italians decide to leave Tuscany for a life in Swedish Laponia and make a beautiful book about the wild forests of Norbotten, there’s a part of me that wants to shout “Look! I was right! They say it’s a very special place!!”

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Saving Sweden’s old forests click by click

The Stora Iglekärr forest, not far from Gothenburg is next in turn to be saved by A click for the forest. Photo: Mats Abrahamsson

Can a click on the web save a forest? Lately, news about the Internet have been full of stories about how much energy “the Cloud” is actually using. But in this case the clicks work in a different direction.

The foundation A click for the forest (later called Naturarvet – nature heritage)was started in 2004 by Jenny Strand och Ann Murugan. For every click they get on their web site a sponsor pays an amount enough to buy a few square decimetres of forest. And when there’s enough money, a threatened forest is bought and protected – for all time to come, according to the foundation’s constitution. Read more » >>

Harvesting without gardening: Food from the Swedish forest

If eating local food is a strong trend in Sweden, eating wild food is kind of  a logical continuation. If you grow your own food in Sweden, May is quite a tough month, since most of the crops have barely popped their heads out of the soil yet. But if you raise your gaze over the garden plot, there are things to be eaten that you never even have to water or take care of.

nettle-pasta

Dish of the day: Pasta with nettles. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

Lately the interest for edible forest plants has grown. Friends of mine start learning what can be brought home from a walk, new books come out and magazines have specials on wild edibles. Some years ago Roland Rittman started picking wild plants and selling them. Now he has his own company Jordnära, and sells stinging nettles, ground-elder and other forest delicacies to top restaurants in Copenhagen, Finland and Stockholm.

Last week I escaped out to a friend’s summer house outside Västerås [map] for a few days. Walking along lake Mälaren was beautiful, and even better was returning home with my pockets full of tender stinging nettle shoots (although I must admit my hands were a bit sore… wearing some sort of gloves is a good idea). Dinner that night was tortellini with nettle stew. Very tasty, and extremely wholesome: nettles contain a lot of vitamine C, iron, calcium, phosphorous and other good stuff.

Other delicacies to look for if you pass through a Swedish forest (and in many other parts of the world too, I think) are elm-tree seeds (elm trees are, as you might have noticed, very much in season now) and ground-elder. Easy to recognize and tasty.

nettles

Nettles can sting, but once they are cooked they become totally harmless. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

Elm-seeds

Elm seeds are good in a salad. Photo: Sara Jeswani

Ground-ElderGround-elder is considered as a stubborn weed, but makes it as a delicious spinach-like ingredient in soups, pies, stews or bread. Photo: Hermann Falkner ( CC BY-NC-SA)

Living in a bird’s nest

birds_nest

Just like all the other bird's nest... just a bit bigger. Photo: Treehotel.

treehotel_mirrorcube

The mirror cube. Photo: Treehotel.

It’s often called the world’s lungs, providing us with oxygen, wood, fuel, food and recreation. We have a lot to thank the forest for, and that’s probably why 2011 has been declared as the International Year of Forests by the United Nations.

This will no doubt be highlighted in various ways this coming year, but one place where it’s already done in a very special way is the Treehotel in Harads, just about 60 kilometers south of the Arctic circle [map]. Here you can sleep four meters over the ground in a house looking like a giant bird’s nest or why not in a mirror cube, reflecting the other trees and the sky on its walls. Much of the material used comes from the surrounding forest and the huts have incinerating toilets.

The idea for this very special hotel was born when Britta and Kent Lindvall-Jonsson saw the film The Tree Lover. It’s the story about three disillusioned city guys who decide to go back to their roots in the North of Sweden to build a tree house. The project leads to philosophical thoughts about what “the tree” means to us humans, both historically and culturally.

With this in mind Britta and Kent teamed up with a group of wellknown architects and designers and started building different tree houses that each one represents human’s relation to the forest and the trees in a different ways. So far there are four houses and two more being constructed, but the final plan includes as many as 24 houses.

“It is important that we find another way to value the forest, rather than to cut the trees for industrial use. This Boreal forest is one of the Earth’s lungs. We need to look after it.”, I read on the hotel’s home page.

The Treehotel has attracted a lot of attention, not least from outside of Sweden. Here’s a feature by British BBC, showing all the different houses and telling the story behind the hotel.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=sv&geocode=&q=Harads,+Boden,+Sverige&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=30.737461,86.572266&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Harads,+Boden,+Norrbottens+L%C3%A4n,+Sverige&ll=63.074866,19.775391&spn=17.732867,86.572266&z=4