Save our forests in Ramshyttan

July 13, 2018 in SWEDEN | Comments (0)

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The forests swathing the green hills and valleys of Bergslagen are shrinking, and with it the amazing recreation potential with carpets of berries and mushrooms open to all to pick under the far sighted law Every Mans Right.  Visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the freedom of the forests, walking, riding, cycling, mountain biking along the myriads of forest trails in Bergslagen. We would like to keep it that way. What we need is sustainable forestry…

Year after year, the area sees forests cut down, sometimes simply devastated by unsustainable forestry. The  village of Ramshyttan has been particularly hit and has seen the old forests in the environs disappear one after one and new monospecies plantations come slowly up – too thick to walk through and without the wonderful mushrooms and berries undergrowth. The kantarell / chantarelle is particuarly difficult to regenerate.

Click here for the latest “kalhygge”. I cried – I more than cried – I howled….

The shock of this sight has waves.  I have helped the villagers prepare the following petition for Sveaskog…please excuse my mix of English and Swedish. I write in English but some of the villagers have given me quotes in Swedish – which I prefer not to translate.

 

SAVE THE LAST FORESTS IN RAMSHYTTAN

For the sake of our quality of life, for our children and grandchildren, for our visitors, and for the riders who gallop our living trails – please save our last few old forests

sågdammen from house2

We, residents of Ramshyttan (see names below), plead that Sveaskog revises its plans to cut down the last few small forests in our village area, shown as the black stippled areas in the map below.  In recent years vast areas of forest around us have been cut down by big machines that destroy the undergrowth and biodiversity for generations, and the last few small forests in our village are important not only for plant and animal diversity but also for wind shelter, recreation, quality of life and our tourist economy. Ramshyttan lies on Bergslagsleden so tourists come through our picturesque village for hiking, riding, mountain biking and other recreation. They bring income; and the loss of our forests means loss of investment in developing ecotourism.

We are a close-knit community of people, most of whom live here permanently. We chose to live here because we enjoy nature, so we want forests left in our village and around us where we can walk under tall trees, with a rich variety of species, an undergrowth of mushrooms, berries and so on, all in harmony with the wildlife. It is time to let the environment in Ramshyttan catch up. WE DO NOT WANT any more “kalhygge” in Ramshyttan or at the entrance to our village.

We want future generations to experience Sweden at its fullest. Our forests are part of our culture, our heritage and our folklore.

 

map of forests to be cut

Ramshyttan forests felled in May or soon to be cut down are stippled black. The pale green areas have been cut down in recent years, sometimes with far spaced pines left to seed  

  • SHRINKING FORESTS. Over the 10 to 15 years the forests around Ramshyttan have drastically shrunk due to massive areas being cut, gradually replaced by impenetrable plantations or thick brush that will reduce the recreation potential for decades and biodiversity for generations. Now the last old forests in the village are targeted – and some have already been cut. See map above: black stippled areas are due for felling and pale green areas that have been felled and not yet regenerated.

 

  • RECENT DEVASTATION. We were shocked and distressed when we saw the destructive “kalhygge” this summer in one of our recreation areas walking distance from the village. A vast area the size of many city blocks has been totally devastated and the ground left scarred by giant wheels. It will be far greater devastation if Sveaskog does “markberedning” (ploughing the ground for later planting). In recent years this forest was our main kantarell and berry picking forest due to most of the others being cut or diminished by big machine forestry. It’s doubtful that any kantarell will be there in the new plantation and it will be impossible to walk through for many years. The area is not in the above map – it is walking distance north.

 

devastation SMALL

 

The devastation of our forests – this is not sustainable forestry

 

”Jag förstår det är skogsproduktion det handlar om, men kan man inte tänka sig en steg längre och avverka på ett hållbart sätt nära byar och turisttäta områden. Dess kalhyggen är som sår i naturen och det kommer att ta så många år innan de läker. Vem villa besöka dem?”

 

Comments by Ramshyttan residents and villa owners who want to preserve the forests in the village of Ramshyttan

”Vi tycker att det är viktigt att skogsägare visar stora hänsyn när det gäller avverkning i områden som har särskild betydelse utifrån ett naturintresse. Såväl Örebro kommun, Region Örebro samt Länsstyrelsen i Örebro har ofta påtalat vikten av naturhänsyn och värdet av miljön i och runt Ramsjön och Ramshyttan.”

 

Claes Wahlberg & Lena Källströmowners of a house in Ramshyttan for 27 years. Claes has helped to develop recreation in Ramshyttan and Kilsbergen.

Claes och jag har bott 27 år i Ramshyttan och vi vill inte att skogen nära och runt omkring oss avverkas mer. Vi valde att bo här just för närheten till naturen med allt vad det innebär. Att ha ett kalhygge som utsikt vill vi verkligen inte!

Lena Hellström – has lived and/or had a house in Ramshyttan for 28 years and written 20 books on Bergslagen including Den blåa Bergen. Lena has already informed Sveaskog she does not want the forest protecting her house from destructive winds to be cut down.

Hur ska via kunna skydda de sista resterna av underbar artrik skog med allt vad det betyder av växtliv, djurliv och glädje för människor? Sveaskog tänker avverka alltihop av det lilla som finns kvar i Ramshyttan.

Marie Elfverssonowner of house(s) in Ramshyttan for 30 years/ runs Ramshyttan Horse Farm riding ventures:

Ryttare kommer från hela Sverige och olika länder i Europa. De älskar det här området och berättar för sina vänner. På väg från Ramshyttan mot Mogetorp frågar de om detta är ett naturreservat, men det är det inte. Sveaskog kommer att avverka den gamla skogen på både sidorna av Bergslagsleden. Jag gråter varje gång jag ser en gammal skog nedhuggen – speciellt skogen runt Ramshyttan. Skogarna som finns kvar borde räddas.

Så här står det i visitorebro.se
Ramshyttan Horse Farm i Bergslagen har ridning i lite skala men i stor natur. Här rider du i ett kulturlandskap som innehåller både trolska skogar och gamla hyttor. Att bo i Ramshyttan är att bo i den svenska historien. Att Rida i Ramshyttan är en fröjd då du får kliva upp på magnifika Frieserhästar eller de mindre Islandshästarna / Marie

 

Jan Hermansson & Karin Tellås Hermanssonowners of a house in Ramshyttan for 29 years, active as photographers and painter.

Vi bor omgivna av skog sedan många år och vi älskar det – vi går i skogarna och inspireras av den för målning och fotografering. Skogarna har minskat mycket de senaste år och nu borde det som är kvar räddas.

Ragnar Sutter & Lena Bergsten Sutter Lena och Ragnar har bott i Ramshyttan i snart 30 år och bedriver en uthyrningsverksamhet för turister.

 Hit kommer människor från hela världen för att uppleva Kilsbergens vildmark och skönhet.

Vi tycker att det är viktigt att skogsägare visar stora hänsyn när det gäller avverkning i områden som har särskild betydelse utifrån ett naturintresse. Såväl Örebro kommun, Region Örebro samt Länsstyrelsen i Örebro har ofta påtalat vikten av naturhänsyn och värdet av miljön i och runt Ramsjön och Ramshyttan.

Henrik Bergström – owns a house in Ramshyttan for 1.5 years

I moved to Ramshyttan in Kilsbergen after falling in love with its natural beauty and the calm surrounding it. The forest has always been close to my heart and I feel that it is a big shame that so much of the beautiful and important forest surrounding the central part of Ramshyttan is planned to be taken down! It will permanently alter the framing and wildlife of the entire village. I fear that this is only the beginning and that this has to be stopped in time in order to save the forest, wildlife and local business.

Sabina Schnegotski  – owner of a cottage in the village for 12 years – lives in Örebro.

Nej dom får inte förstöra vår vackra skogen i byn. Skogen är så vacker. Försträckligt om man skulle göra det till en kalhygge mitt i byn. I Nora villa politikerna stasa på att får så många turister som möjligt att kommer till vårt område. De verkligen prioritera detta. Det som lockar är bla Bergslagsleden, mountiinbike tracks, svamp och bärplockning. Att campa och bada, och uppleva lugnet och djurlivet – och allt hänger på att vi har en fin nature. Varje dag vandrar det förbi och cyclar turister från alla världens hörn vid min stuga och de säger att det är fantastisk med all skog och fina natur.

Just nu blir det fler och fler kalhyggen runt byn. Om detta fortsätter kommer turisterna inte ha något vacker att åka till.

Jag förstår det är skogsproduktion det handlar om, men kan man inte tänka sig en steg längre och avverka på ett hållbart sätt nära byar och turisttäta områden. Dess kalhyggen är som sår i naturen och det kommer att ta så många år innan de läker. Vem villa besöka dem?

Borde inte Sveaskog som är staten, alltså vi, tänka på att bevara omgivningarna runt byar och turisttäta områden? Fortsätta detta så kommer inte det finnas någon vacker skog kvar.

Erik Burghgraaff – from The Netherlands has visited regularly for 6 years

This place has such beautiful nature. To take away all forest would be devastating not only for our generation but for coming generations. The reforestation cycle is so long! How in a sane mind could one make such a decision – to leave the nature as if it is a war zone!!!  You can see it all round Ramshyttan already. Please save the last pieces of forest.

Kristina Bervenståhl – Ramshyttebo sedan 2001

Jag är ägare till Ramshyttans äldsta Bergsmansgård byggår före 1861. Ramshyttan är en av de småbyar som uppskattas av de boende men även av alla turister som passerar dagligen inte bara från närområdet utan också nerifrån Europa. Dessa uppskattar precis som vi att vi har frisk luft, rent vatten, tystnad o vilda djur. Om skogen försvinner förstörs närmiljön i Ramshyttan för innevånarna men även för alla turister från när och fjärran som besöker oss i sitt sökande efter en vacker och ursprunglig natur och hittar oss via sina datorer. Jag hoppas att alla förstår vad eftersökta dessa miljöer blir i framtiden med tanke på den miljöförstöring som försiggår.

Juha Raivio – Finnish musician – has lived here to write music together with Ramshyttan resident, the singer Aleah (died 2016 and has a memorial garden facing the Sågdammen forest). 

We walked and rode horses among the beauty of these woods and we wrote the Hour of the Nightingale Album together inspired by these woods around us. I wrote Swallow the Sun’s Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, Songs from the North triple album and Hallatar album inspired by these woods and landscapes. Aleah did all the photography for Songs of the North album in these forests. I even shot a vido for the song ” Pray for the winds to come” in these very same woods they are going to destroy.

Magnus Hansen & Carin Juhlinhave lived in Ramshyttan for 9 years.

We are against the cutting down of any more forests in Ramshyttan. Our area in Kilsbergen is called Eco Park by Svea Skog. The forest around Ramshyttan ought to be considered as ecologically important.

Kathleeen Fennfrom South Africa – lived in Ramshyttan for 6 years, been visiting Ramshyttan for 13 years.

They are murdering our forests. Surely there are some official bodies in Sweden who can step in and save these beautiful forests around Ramshyttan. It is my understanding that Ramshyttan is an important part of Bergslagsleden, not only precious to Swedes but an important tourist attraction.

Victor Fennhas lived in Ramshyttan for 6 years, been visiting for 12 years and former owner of an Insurance Broking Company that insured growing timber in South Africa.

Referring to the Sågdammen forest:

This is not a plantation I would want to insure – it is steep and rocky and marshy. Not worth very much (from a production point of view). It looks like a jungle. If they fell this little forest it is not going to recover for a long time.

Howard & Ingrid Simson owner of the “manor” (herrgård) in Ramshyttan for 8 years.

The rhetoric of Sveaskog and of the Swedish government about sustainability seems to be forgotten – judging by the scarred ground and the big deforestation on our doorstep. It’s not acceptable that they cut all around us and then come right into our village to take the last grown forests AND remove our wind shelter.

Per-Olov Broddesonlives in Ramshyttan since 2016.

Jag förstår inte varför de vill fälla den lilla skogen (Sågdammen skog). Det är så svårt att köra en stor maskin runt i, den är full av träsk där maskinerna kan fastna, träden är inte fantastiska för timmer – men det är en vacker plats att besöka för bär och svamp. När de har kört runt där – det blir inget kvar, även om de inte skär alla träd. Om de lämnar en rad av några träd på banken som de har planerat kommer det bara att se dumt ut.

Roland Stanbridgeowner Grindtorp farm for 12 years:

Their enormous logging machines cause immense environmental damage which will probably not recover for hundreds of years. They should leave our last forests in Ramshyttan to help regeneration of the whole area with different types of mushrooms, plants, insects, animals and birds. Ramshyttan and the surrounding forests had, until recently, wonderful biodiversity. This attracted scores of international visitors. Now we are being surrounded by clearcut ‘kalhygge’. We hardly see deer or elk anymore….

Michal Kaczmarek –  Polish citizen, visited Ramshyttan many times and became a resident here 2.5 years ago.

I visited for many years and walked a lot in the forests. They have cut too much. There was some really beautiful forest on a hill by Ramsjön. When I came back I was shocked. It looked like the moon.

Gillian Stanbridgeowner of a house in Ramshyttan for 11 years and been coming here for 17 years – the targeted forest on Sågdammen is within full view of the house.

My heart broke when I saw what Sveaskog did to the vast forest near us, which was so full of magic and memories of picking mushrooms and berries with my daughter Aleah who died. That special forest has become acres and acres of nothingness churned up by their giant forestry machines – and it now feels like the end of the world. For weeks I have woken with dread every time I hear a heavy vehicle, as if it were the sound of tanks roaring in to conquer our village.

I have been talking to Sveaskog representatives about saving the last forests in and around our village of Ramshyttan – all targeted for cutting – including the beautiful forest fringing the lake in front of our house. They have been very helpful but need to find a way between the rules of their vast organization, in order to fulfil the promise of the new generation of more ecologically aware staff, in line with a new generation of Swedes who value biodiversity.

I live with the Sågdammen forest day and night – and I will shrivel inside if it is destroyed. It has a delicate ecology, with marshes, fabulous mosses and a little stream, and I am very worried about the plans to leave only a fringe of trees on the bank; they will stick up like a broken comb and the wind will howl through the valley. I am worried about Sveaskog’s insistence on taking all the spruce (gran) – as it is an important part of our wind shelter. Also – to me the spruce is a truly Nordic tree full of the magic of Dunderklumpen and Swedish folkore. Can’t the very old ones be left along the ski trail as they add so much magnificence?

We want a lush, exciting entrance to our village – not a kalhygge followed in later years by a grey green growth – and finally something you could call a forest perhaps 40 years later – most likely with no kantarell. I will then be long gone and so will most of my neighbours.

SOME COMMENTS BY TOURIST VISITORS & NATURSKYDDSFÖRENING (NATURE CONSERVATION SOCIETY)

 

Agate CurieFrench citizen – visited Ramshyttan for a holiday and to help with organic farming

The nature of Sweden is remarkably preserved, In contrary to most areas in the world, and it was especially impressive in your area. The air is pure, the woods are alive, walking in it was wonderful. I think it’s of the utmost importance to keep these natural jewels intact…And if only to appeal to the governmental priority, its nature is the first reason to visit the country for most travelers. You take away its nature, you give up the money for tourism. That’s of course not my personal concern but it should be one of the government’s.

Clementine CurieFrench-American citizen – has spent many months in Ramshyttan in the last 2 years, and worked from here.

The first time I came to Sweden in 2016, I was stunned by the beauty of the snow-covered forest of Ramshyttan, the epitome of what I imagined a Nordic scenery to look like. The forest and nature are truly what makes this area a magical and special place, one amongst very few of its kind left in the world. It is a treasure far more precious than any immediate profit could ever be. More recently, I was devastated to see what has been done to some areas of the forest already – they have been turned into battlefields, graveyards.

A forest that is centuries old can’t be replaced simply by planting new trees, especially of just one species. The relationships and interactions between trees are complex, and should be understood and respected by those who claim management of the forests (for reference, see for example the documentary “Intelligent trees”). In our own interest and that of future generations, we must start working with nature rather than against it.

Henrik Perrin – Ordförande Naturskyddsförening Nora.

Det är främst tre regler som ska beaktas av oss och ansvariga skogsägare.

  1. Social hänsyn: Varje avverkning ska ske med social hänsyn som t ex vindskydd för privat egendom eller andra direkt påverkande faktorer som försämrar de boendes förhållanden.
  2. Ekonomisk hänsyn: Enligt FSC ska särskild hänsyn tas om skötseln av skogen påverkar företagares utkomst av marken ifråga. I Ramshyttan finns flera näringsidkare med hästuthyrning, kulturarbetare, konstnärer som är direkt beroende av naturen för att kunna bedriva sina respektive rörelser. Detta beskrivs mycket väl i petitionen.

Den ekonomiska hänsynen måste även ses i ett vidare perspektiv då en hel kommuns ekonomi påverkas i detta fall. Nora lever på sin kulturmiljö, inte bara hyttor och träkåkar utan även den helhet som skapas av en vacker natur med mycket liv och aktiviteter. Moutainbikeleder, ekoturism, bergslagsleden, ljusstråk, turisters önskan att få uppleva vår ”unika” natur, hästridning, inspiration för konstnärsskap mm mm blir direkt påverkade negativt av kalhyggen och andra ”naturbruks”-metoder. Nora kommun borde vara mycket bekymrade över denna fråga nu och i framtiden.

  1. Alla bolag som lyder under FSC ska på anmodan från boende och andra intressenter i det aktuella området för skogsbruksåtgärder, komma ut för ett samrådsmöte på plats. Detta har Nora kommun och alla boende i Ramshyttan rätt till.

MAIN POINTS OF THE PETITION

  1.  QUALITY OF LIFE & RECREATION. Our forests are important to us for walking, riding, picking berries and mushrooms, photography, painting, inspiration, peace and enjoyment. We chose Ramshyttan as a place to live largely because of its position amidst forests and lakes. We want the last forests in the village to be preserved.
  2. TOURISM POTENTIAL AROUND BERGSLAGSLEDEN. Ecotourism is an important source of economic growth for Bergslagen, now and in the future. Tourism advertising always mentions the unspoilt forests.  Not only in Ramshyttan area but in Nora and other areas of Bergslagen tourism will be negatively affected by the lack of forests worth walking, riding or biking through so close to Bergslagsleden, and the disappointing sight of the devastated newly deforested areas.  Riding in Ramshyttan is famous and people come from far and wide to ride on its many forested paths. The village should be left with some real forest or tourists will feel cheated and will certainly not recommend that others visit.
  3. DESTRUCTION OF BERRIES, KANTARELL & OTHER BIODIVERSITY. Because of modern forestry methods with huge logging machines we in Ramshyttan have lost many or most of the rich berry and mushroom picking forests in a wide radius. The number of plant species (and assumedly of animal species) has been reduced drastically with planting of single species.  This makes it all the more urgent to save our last forests.
  4. REPLANTING & ACCESSBILITY.  We are surrounded by large areas where forests have been cut down and dense growth of saplings or grey green brush have taken their place – too tight together for us to walk through. A few pockets of biodiversity must be left so that the vast areas cut down can regenerate in a healthy way with seeds and spores carried in the wind or by birds and insects. Please leave our last little forests.
  5. SMALL FORESTS. Our last forests in Ramshyttan are small forests, worth relatively little economically if one considers the destruction of our biosphere, quality of life for villagers and the negative impact on tourism.
  6. SÅGDAMMEN FOREST’S DELICATE ECOLOGY. The Sågdammen forest due for “avverkning” (felling) is seen from the Pershyttan-Ramshyttan road leading to Bergslagsleden. It is a very delicate environment with several marshes, a variety of mosses, a small stream, beaver-gnawed trunks, badger homes and mixed species of trees and undergrowth. Leaving a standard 10m band of trees on the bank will spoil the beauty of the lake and drastically reduce shelter from the wind. All the spruce are to be felled and most of the pines, further increasing winds in the valley. There are “naturvårds” ribbons placed near stream, marshes and bank – but it is such a small, steep forest it is hard to see how the machines will avoid creating immense damage. The forest will not regenerate easily due to large areas of boulders and marsh.**
  7. WIND SHELTER. We already have very high winds and now they will become even more destructive. The swathe of forest along Sågdammen and skirting the village to the old trail to Mogetorp should not be removed. **
  8. BERGSLAGSLEDEN. Some of the planned felling operations in the above map are along the famous forest trail (red/stippled line on map), and along the ski trail in the village area. Care should be taken not to give passers-by – on foot, on horseback, on cycles, on bikes and on skis – a feeling of desolation and loss. There are further close-by areas awaiting felling outside the scope of the map, where the impact should also be carefully considered.
  9. AWARENESS OF AFFECTED COMMUNITIES. Forest owners should show special consideration around communities where local people have a strong interest in interacting with unspoilt nature.

 

** Gillian Stanbridge has already communicated with Nils Nygren about the wind protection provided for the whole valley by the forest on Sågdammen, and the delicate ecology in that waterside forest in danger of total destruction from the big wheels of logging machines. He said that Rune Andersson would get in touch with Gillian Stanbridge. He hoped a mutually satisfactory position could be reached. A field assistant Moa, recently given the brief of Ramshyttan’s forestry, walked with Gillian and Marie Elversson through the site on 17 July.  Moa will visit again to study the forests and to try to find a more favourable solution that possibly takes into account both natural assets like Sågdammen and community recreation. Gillian informed her she already had a petition from villagers, and that she would send it as support for Moa’s endeavours.

 

We thank Sveaskog for a chance to talk to staff and air our views, and trust that our wishes will help to shape plans for sustainable and community-aware forestry in Ramshyttan area and surroundings in Bergslagen.

 

On behalf of ourselves as residents of Ramshyttan, our children and their children

On behalf of our visitors from Nora, Örebro, Stockholm and further afield (Holland, France, Germany, England, Ireland, Thailand, South Africa, USA and more)

On behalf of the riders who cross the world to ride on our famous forested paths

On behalf of our budding eco tourism economy in Ramshyttan and Berglslagen

We plead that our last few small forests in Ramshyttan should be preserved.

 

HELP TO SAVE OUR FORESTS

To sign the petition to save our last forests in Bergslagen and Ramshytan

CLICK HERE

WHAT IS RAMSHYTTAN

Ramshyttan is a picturesque village with a 400 year old history of iron working , situated in Bergslagen on Bergslagsleden, 500m from Ramsjön. It is a popular destination for Örebro and Nora people for swimming, cycling, berry picking, and mushroom picking – forest recreation – and hundreds of people walk through the village and along its paths including Bergslagsleden every summer.  It is also a growing eco tourism destination, like the rest of Bergslagen, and several Ramshyttan properties get income from stays by tourist visitors. Ramshyttan Horse Farm is becoming increasingly well known – riders come from all over Sweden and abroad to ride on many paths and quiet roads through the forests according to Allamansrätt.

In snowy winters, people from Örebro and further afield ski through Ramshyttan village and through a spectacularly beautiful forest in the heart of the village – which is one of the highlights of the trail along with the meadows, Friesian horses and red and white houses of Ramshyttan. That spectacular forest is one of those due to be cut.

GOOD THINGS

  • Sveaskog have marked out some small areas for special attention regarding culture (kulturhänsyn) and nature conservation (naturvårds hänsyn) in the targeted forests. The culture markers follow an ancient trail from Ramshyttan that goes through forests (including one of the targeted forests marked for avverkning) towards Mogetorp. Some of the kulturvård markers indicated the ruins of a community 100 years ago which lies in another old forest close to Ramshyttan, which has already been cut bare while preserving the remains.  A few naturvårds ribbons can be seen in the beautiful forest by the ski track awaiting “avverkning”; and near some marshes in Sågdammen forest and along the bank of the water. Many ribbons are half hidden so it’s a lot to expect that the drivers rushing to get through their work will not cause damage.
  • Fortunately, when cutting down vast areas c.  2010, Sveaskog has left a small stand of trees around one of the shelters on Bergslagsleden (the famous forest trail) and that means there are berries and mushrooms there too for the tourists (subject to competition). Earlier they cut away a beautiful forest up on the left bank of the Bergslagsleden pathway from Ramshyttan and on both sides further on. Pines were left far apart in part of the forest – which remains quite bleak. In other areas there is a plantation growing up  – at this stage not very interesting.
  • Also fortunate, a visionary employee of Sveaskog sold forests and meadows in the village to Grindtorp farm to prevent the sort of trouble we experience now. So there are beautiful pastures where horses feed; and some small areas of very old forest standing (mostly birch but with some genuine old forest covered in lichen), used for keeping horses and thus not usually visited by the village. Also there are some beautiful birch groves in Ramshyttan nature reserve, which was donated to Örebro by one of the former residents – as well as lovely pasture land where cattle are grazed in summer.
  • On the far corner of Ramsjön (a few km from the village centre) is part of the Kilsbergen Ecopark, created just before Sveaskog started massive felling “avverkning” in Ramshyttan area in 2010. There is a beautiful stand of trees on the far corner of Ramsjön (lake) beside the forest road to Närkeskil. (marked red on the map with text nyckelbiotop). However much of the park area is scrub – not old forests.
  • A nature reserve (domänreservat) protects the running stream from the waterfall out of Sågdammen to Kvarndammen and on to Lilla Ramsjön – one of the most exquisite parts of Ramshyttan and Bergslagsleden. World class beauty though limited in extent. A few km along the ski trail that passes through the village, you can find the remains of an old community and next to it a nature reserve of magnificent trees, stretching down to the river and the site of the former mill. It is a pity that they did not try or could not add the area of the old community to the nature reserve. Sveaskog in May this year did an immaculate kalhygge on the site of the old village. Kalhygge in the sense that no trees were left on the site (though remaining in the nature reserve). Immaculate in the sense that they exposed various remains like a former cellar, and left 1.3m high trunks of trees around the various remains  – “kulturstubbe”. Care was taken not to entirely remove the moss cover of the ground – though the wheels have left ruts, and a former transport road from the village was ignored in their preservation efforts.

WORRYING PAST

During the last large scale forestry operation around Ramshyttan in 2010, Sveaskog’s machine drivers caused damage to ancient paths that traverse this village. Later they tried to fix one of the stone-paved paths – which is good, but easier of course than restoring biodiversity  (See my think-piece blog written at the time.)

REFER TO BLOG 2010:
ECOTOURISM CHOMPED BY MACHINES

 

IN PERSPECTIVE

Mopping up the last old forests of Ramshyttan follows vigorous forestry and kalhygge operations by Sveaskog in other areas of Bergslagen last year – including Dalkarlsberg and Pershyttan, a picturesque village full of history with a steam train station and thousands of visitors vising the old mill. A vast forest was taken down facing the station – once a wall of impressive gigantic trees – they could at least have left that awe inspiring living wall of greenery and cut out down trees out of sight. The forest by the Pershyttan lake was also cut down (a smaller area) and some trees left along the bank of the lake and a jogging trail. One is grateful for the trees, but looking at the lake from the road, it doesn’t look like a forest on the bank – just like trees standing. On the banks of Kvarndammen a forest was cut down leaving only a single line of trees, quite far apart. Birch brush is growing up beyond it – not very interesting.

SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY

The Swedish parliament and Sveaskog itself have spoken out for sustainable forestry and Sveaskog has practiced it in some areas. Please hold up these principles for us in Bergslagen and in our village of Ramshyttan. We have lost too many forests too fast and the forestry methods have destroyed the undergrowth and biodiversity. In villages and the outskirts of cities – sustainable forestry methods should be developed so as not to destroy the undergrowth and the biodiversity that gives us so much joy. Tree cutting need not devastate the landscape as in the latest extensive “kalhygge” by Ramshyttan village. Patchwork cutting, as developed in recent years, is more acceptable, or most preferably continuous cutting of mature trees, which leaves a natural forest with trees of all kinds, shapes and sizes, along with the precious undergrowith (and provides a regular income). Please consider employing this ultimate form of sustainable foresty in villages and important tourist areas to maintain their appeal and recreation potential, and to help maintain biodiversity for us and the generations who come after us.

 

SOME PICTURES TO COME

forest stream

Sågdammen and a targeted forest – view from one of the houses in Ramshyttan Forest and Sågdammen. View from road Pershyttan-Ramshyttan / Bergslagsleden
Sågdammen with our red marking of the marsh/sumpmark and an area of the bank where all trees may be removed creating a wind tunnel Fabulous mosses, probably three kinds, in the marshes of Sågdammen forest  – a natural treasure  and in danger from the big wheels.
Beautiful mossy area in one of the swamps. Some “naturvårds” ribbons on a few nearby trees – but not all around  – very vulnerable to big machines Small stream still visible in Sågdammen forest despite 3 or 4 weeks drought. Some naturvårds ribbons on nearby trees – but not all the way along
Mosses, berries and water – beauty to be saved from the destructive wheels of the gigantic machines Showing an area of the bank of Sågdammen where few trees would remain – leaving gaps through which the wind will howl down the valley
One of the culture (kulturvård) ribbons besdie the ancient path from Ramshyttan towards Mogetorp. Good thing – but the little old forest it crosses is due for “avverkning”. Animal bones remind this is a real wild forest that will be removed The ancient path that Sveaskog will take care not to disturb this time round – though the journey that thrills riders will become tame when the last old forest goes and only half grown saplings line the
The old forest beside the Mogetorp path, with a little bridge over a currently dry waterway – Sveaskog is taking care this time not to destroy the path and spoke of creating own bridge over it to get at the forest on both sides. This is the forest loved by the horseriders – though much diminished in size by previous cutting A parking place built to store the once living forest as poles and scraps for timber and biofuel. On the left is a swathe of forest that sweeps around some of the village forming a wind break – but scheduled for felling. On the right is a boring sweep of once richly forested hills now with occasional pines sticking up and a grey green growth

 

 

SÅGDAMMEN’S DELICATE ECOLOGY

Sågdammen, is the central waterway in Ramshyttan and can be seen from two little bridges used by traffic and hikers on Bergslagsleden. It is also the view from 413 Ramshyttan.

 

Magical moments around the clock – mist and moonlight over Sågdammen and the fringing forest. Please preserve this beauty and the waterway Some of the magic of Dunderklumpen and paintings by Hans Arnold – part of Swedish folklore.  Please preserve this forest.

 

 

In the projected forestry operation with big machines in the little forest, this is the most varied and vulnerable area targeted. I have the following concerns in addition to my fear about my precious view.

  • The wind through the valley. Only 9 pines are to be left in the whole forest (an estimate excluding trees on the bank) – and all the spruce (GRAN) will be removed (which is the main growth and wind protection of this dense old forest). On the banks, trees will be left in a narrow area  – leaving little protection from already destructive winds. In one area I understand there will be no trees – thus creating a wind tunnel.
  • Protection of the forest marshes (sumpmark). It is important that the big forestry machines do not traverse the swamps and that this area is left alone. It is full of beautiful mosses – 3 different kinds including a rare moss I heard.
  • Protection of a little waterway in the forest There are some nature conservation markers near the waterway, but not along its whole length. It is important the giant machines do not cross this delicate waterway anywhere along its length.
  • Sustainable tourism. By leaving only denuded stones and a few trees here and there, the beauty of the lake will be spoilt, creating a negative impact on eco tourism – by disappointing visitors to Ramshyttan and along Bergslagsleden walking, riding, cycling, and camping. Niche tourism is largely spread by word of mouth and ecotourist visitors seeing the last forests cut down in Ramshyttan will be unlikely to bring new tourists.
  • Poor future as a production forest (plantation) due to a large area of boulders, marshland and crumbly slopes and river bank. The majority of the trees are spruce (gran) possibly because their roots can hold on in these stony thin soils – but all spruce will be cut down.
  • Destroying undergrowth and animal habitats. Will the economic gains in cutting down this poor forest for timber be worth the destruction of a priceless habitat for animals and plants?
  • Reducing recreation potential for villagers, The locals live here to be amidst the forests for walking, berry picking, mushroom picking, riding, or conducting tourism. Örebro, Nora and other visitors also visit, searching for berries, mushrooms etc. Almost every berry and mushroom patch will have disappeared in the next few weeks and our favourite walks are looking sad and sorry. Several residents are so devastated by the deforestation of Ramshyttan that they think of selling and leaving, including myself.
  • Responsible sustainable forestry/maintaining biodiversity.  There is a qualitative difference between a forest in a village and out in the bush, and the responsibility of a state owned company to think also of the well-being of the people it impacts with it operations.
Not much profit to be made from old trees like this – but they add such depth to a study of the biosphere Whether it’s the beavers or the wind – there are a lot of fallen trees in this forest (unimpressive plantation from a forestry point of view)
Jewelled beauty of moss in a marsh. There is a nature conservation marker somewhere in the trees in the middle here. It could be missed by the drivers View of the forest from Aleah’s Garden of Trees of Eternity. Two trees planted by band members of Trees of Eternity in the foreground. Please let the garden face an eternal forest not a tree grave.

 

There is a gully full of fallen trees at the end of the lake- resulting from marshland and wind. There is a danger that leaving too few trees will cause even more powerful and destructive winds to howl through the valley The very welcome nature conservation ribbons. A long one is meant to indicate an area to be preserved. Would that mean from here to the lake? Or something behind it? In other areas the ribbon is very close to the lake which is very worrying.

 

Gillian Stanbridge Ramshyttan

 

 


KILSBERGEN BEAUTY AMID FORESTRY OFFENSIVE

November 7, 2010 in SWEDEN | Comments (6)

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Ramshyttan is a place of beauty perfectly sited for village and nature tourism. In the last four months the state forestry company Sveaskog has well-nigh demolished its surroundings in the Kilsberg hills, one of the most beautiful areas of Sweden. Riding and rambling trails are desolate after forestry activity with monster machines, casting a gloom on promising ecotourism development.

As Sweden’s biggest forest owner, is it their right to launch intensive deforestation, despite the impact on nature and the local community?

And what does this zealous state forestry offensive have to do with the demand for biofuel?

Only 20 minutes from Örebro and 2 hrs 30 minutes drive from Stockholm, blue hills rise out of the plains – an area of extraordinary natural riches. These are the Kilsberg hills – Kilsbergen. Forests and former forests roll out for miles, up hill and down dale, with predators (wolves, lynx, and fox) and plenty of elk and deer, not to mention smaller mammals.

Once the coastline of an ancient sea, this line of hills has the feeling of a world apart from the flatlands that formed the sea floor 10 000 years ago. Northern conifers mix with deciduous trees in Kilsbergen creating biodiversity.  There are strange rock formations, waterfalls, and dozens of pure lakes and streams that glitter dark like obsidian. The iron in the rock has given Bergslagen a part in Swedish history with small iron smelting communities and independent spirit – and cultural relics of ironworks and old timbered cottages add to the mystique of wandering through this terrain.

However, for four months the state forest company Sveaskog has been so active that it has devastated forests and rambling trails in this part of Bergslagen. It’s near total onslaught. Locals report that the forests in areas around Ramshyttan in the Kilsberg hills (Kilsbergen) have almost all gone – except for a nature reserve, Sveaskog’s “Ecopark” introduced 2007, and small private forests. In “efficient” modern style, with the aim of getting timber or biofuel at low cost, they have used monster machines.  They have taken not just most of the trees, but the undergrowth too (of course). So they have destroyed countless habitats for animals and plants. And not just nature has been devastated.

Riding trails and old foot paths have been ploughed up by the monster machines and areas of the famous trail Bergslagsleden denuded. The topography of large areas has basically been altered. In their impatience they haven’t waited for good weather, so the machines have sunk into the wet ground and churned up the surface. Banks on the side of former trails have been flattened. Stones on age old walks have been flung away so all you have is a mush and later dry, rutty broken useless trails.

The pretty village of Ramshyttan, once famed for its iron working, is still a haunting spot with painted wooden houses, and tree-lined banks cradling little lakes and rushing stream. See the images above and the stream that once drove the mills. Ramshyttan is one of the highlights of Bergslagsleden, and has a shelter once surrounded by forest. Now the shelter is exposed by deforestation. And in whatever direction you walk, ride or drive from the village you feel this sense of devastation, though fortunately Sveaskog’s land sale activities have rescued the village from total ruin by creating private forest.

And no doubt one should be very grateful for the much heralded Sveaskog Ecopark, a few kilometers from Ramshyttan, which has a magical view over the flats from Rusakulan  in the heights of Kilsbergen. When created in 2007, it was Sveaksog’s 18th Ecopark, and part of a very verbal philosophy on sustainable forestry, and upholding the natural environment with much reference to the fascinating geography, geology, biodiversity and culture of Bergslagen.

Now in retrospect the Kilsbergen Ecopark may have been timed as a compensation for the coming forestry operations in the area. Which may be connected with prioritizing biofuel as their little contribution to the climate crisis rather than sustaining the forests by laying off the monster machines.

Under the heading (translated from Swedish) Sustainable forestry gives more, Sveaskog’s website accessed 5 November states that they are now increasing the returns from the forest, while upholding ecological and social values.

In the period January to September 2010 volume of Sveaskog’s deliveries of forest products rose by 7% compared with the same period in 2009. Sales volumes of timber and wood for pulp went up 6% and biofuel a whole 13%.

Under perioden januari – september levererade Sveaskog 8 358 kubikmeter (m3fub) skogsråvara, en ökning med sju procent jämfört med motsvarande period föregående år. Försäljningen av timmer och massaved ökade med sex procent och biobränsle med 13 procent. Främst kraftvärmeverkens efterfrågan bidrog till ökade biobränsleleveranser.

www.sveaskog.se (accessed 7 November 2010)

This is the period during which they worked so actively around Ramshyttan and Kilsbergen. And this weekend the full destruction of these operations hit me.

Over dinner I asked three owners of houses in Ramshyttan: How bad is it?

“It’s terrible. There are almost no riding trails left”, said Marie. “Even the old trails which are meant to be protected have been destroyed. Behind my house was an ancient trail – very beautiful, banked with stones. It was only a mud pool when they had finished.”

Why don’t you protest?

“I have asked Sveaskog to come and pack down the earth – I am thinking first of all about the danger for my horses,” said Marie. “But I am also very sad because the trail by my house is spoilt – it was so beautiful…”

The famous hiking trail Bergslagsleden has also been hit – it wanders through denuded areas with sticks and stones and silly thin trees here and there. In some areas where there is private forest some of the charm is left. Where they have demolished banks and ploughed up the actual trail Sveaskog will try to fix it, Marie says. That is the usual form. Charge at the job like a bull, and if no one complains about damage leave it, otherwise try to fix it…

“You know that this is a state company,” she added. “The private companies would have been more careful.”

We sat in the candlelight and our meal seemed so sad too. Something that Sweden should be proud of, something that is rare in the world is diminished, maybe for the next generations. Despite gaining the Ecopark in 2007, Kilsbergen has become a lesser place.

Apart from the 200 km Bergslagsleden, hiking and riding of world class followed seemingly endless other trails through the rolling forested hills by endless lakes and rivers. Ramshyttan Hästgård (horse farm) was putting up a website for international equine ecotourism, based not just on the wholesome clean lakes of Kilsbergen, the hills and forests … but world class riding. There were 20 riding trails, at least, Marie says … having owned her little red and white cottage for some 30 years, and she and her Icelandic horses have discovered every corner.

Now there are few riding trails left to boast of. What trails remain seem so bleak.

The Kilsberg hills look as if they have mange. Some small patches of forest (thank goodness), some scraggly scrubby self regenerating old forestry destruction. And large areas with nothing left except a few thin tall trees here and there…like a few hairs left in the bare areas of skin on a mangy cat. Trees that look sad and pained and lost. And other areas with completely NOTHING.  Except sticks, weeds, mud and dried earth sometimes with the tracks of the monster machines.

“They went on for four months,” says Roland who is engaged in sustainable farming and ecotourism in Ramshyttan.

“Night and day those machines were going…I couldn’t sleep,” says Kathleen, who owns a house in the village.

But can’t you do something I asked?

“There is nothing left to save now,” says Roland. “It’s all gone except for the nature reserve and the Ecopark.  They owned the land; they can do what they like.”

Is this really true that they can do what they like? And even if they are allowed to, is it right?

If the people of the world had accepted autocracy and tyranny, what would our lives look like today?

These are my questions:

RESPONSIBLE FORESTRY

1. As a state owned forestry company, should Sveaskog not be involved in responsible forestry and community cooperation? They have shown a welcome consciousness of conservation with the Ecoparks – and sustainable forestry is a favourite buzzword for them – but their Ecopark is a drop in the ocean and their activities leave the following questions.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS

2. Why come to one area and one community with monster machines – and destroy almost everything in a few months? Why not spread the forestry activities more fairly over their domain from North to South of Sweden. This would be responsible forestry – responsible behavior towards the community. Sveaskog’s stated ambition to set aside 20% of Sweden’s forests for nature conservation orientation  begs the question about the other 80% – and the arrogance that deems Sveaskog can choose which communities fall in the unimportant bracket.

WATERSHED AREAS

3. Why choose a watershed area, a catchment area – why denude the hills here when the forestry companies own vast tracts of forests on lowlands? Watershed areas are vital for the healthy ecology of much wider zones; rivers run from Kilsbergen down into a chain of lakes that feed the farmlands and towns below, providing water for growth, life and recreation. A bare hill does not catch water by itself – it is the trees that create a huge surface area for condensation. This is well known.

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

4. Why sabotage sustainable tourism? Why choose such a particularly beautiful area for such savage treatment – the closest mountains to Stockholm, the beautiful backyard of Örebro, and an area with great potential for ecotourism? It is already popular with German and Dutch tourists (at least before the destruction). Bergslagen is an area full of artists, inspired by its beauty. It also has the mystique of the old culture of independent iron workers, which further adds to the cultural richness that attracts sustainable tourism. With responsible forestry one would take care not to undermine the economic livelihood of the community. One would first talk to the community and find what they are aiming at.

RAMBLING AND RIDING TRAILS

5. Why not first research where all the riding and walking trails are and then avoid them when felling trees – leaving a swathe at least four trees deep. That would be responsible forestry. The beauty of country roads, lanes and trails touches on the identity and culture of the area, as well as on tourism.

TRULY SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY ZONES

6. Why not create many more special zones where properly sustainable forestry methods are used.  It is not enough to just declare interest in the “values” of nature in  specific areas (though of course better than nothing). Currently “sustainable” forestry seems to embrace the all-destroying machines, and is called sustainable merely because they try to leave 10% of the trees (xx trees per hectare). So they miss out the odd tree but devastate everything else. The trees once deep in the forest are long and tall and emaciated, and almost all the other plant species are gone. All shelter for animals gone.  In areas of special significance like the whole of Kilsbergen, they should go back to ancient methods with modern newly designed machinery that is nimble and can avoid total destruction. Why not be inspired by the days not so long ago, when the forests held trees of all ages and all heights, mixed conifer and deciduous.  The old trees were felled in the summer and dragged over the snow in winter – leaving younger trees and the undergrowth with all its richness so plant and animal life could continue in full biodiversity. Sweden is trying to become a leader in green technology. Why not make a thing of sustainable forestry – sustainable and responsible? Instead of the current parody of it…

ISLANDS OF SAFETY AND REGENERATION

7. In areas that maybe have less cultural and natural significance, where there are vast areas without villages and riding and walking trails, why not apply the 10% rule in a more nature-friendly way. Instead of leaving trees here and there with nothing between, why not leave copses – little islands of completely untouched vegetation which will act as a reservoir for plant regeneration and a hiding and breeding place for animals.

SAVE KILSBERGEN

8. Why not try to save the little bits of forest that are left in Kilsbergen? Not much but it could get worse. The Ramshyttan inhabitants are worried that Sveaskog will now descend to the waterways and banks of the lakes – for example the end of Sågdammen.  At least try to do better in the rest of Berglsagen if there is anything left to save.

BIOFUEL AMBIGUITY

9. Why not look honestly at the biofuel story? The current output on the web from Sveaskog has some complicated and unfathomable arguments with a skip and a hop sideways in the logic. They give the welcome news that Sweden’s forests trap half of the CO2 that the country produces – a nice contribution to ameliorating global warming. They state that old trees do not contribute so much to trapping CO2, so basically it is better to cut them down. They don’t say what they mean by old. The trees felled around Ramshyttan were definitely not old  (Sveaskog fortunately sold some very old forests to private people recently). The implication is that they will immediately plant lots of vigorous young trees – but in 10 years I personally have not seen any trees planted where Sveaskog denuded the slopes. Further, they seamlessly jump to a conclusion that biofuel production is important for meeting the world’s shortage of fossil fuels as if that is the same thing as sustainable forestry. It may be true that it will help against global warming, but surely if you burn all those trees the CO2 so lovingly trapped is let out?

GAME RESERVES?

10. Finally why not have a wider vision? Why not save the whole ecosystem in special areas. Swedes go all the way to South Africa or Kenya to see wildlife, and spend Swedish money there. Why not save our own animal life, not just by saving their habitat, but by limiting hunting in nature reserves so they become GAME reserves with tourism potential and bring in animal tourism money instead of just exporting it. Game reserves that include carnivores and herbivores.J

Sweden’s hunting lobby has royal blessing and many powerful supporters so the licence to kill walks a tightrope between please them (let hunters kill as many as possible)  and leave them (leaving animals to breed so they can be killed later on). The hunting lobby has apparently managed to persuade the Swedish government that the wolves, to give one example of their “lobbying power”, are genetically degenerate and that a large number should be killed to make way for some Russian wolves to enter from the north. A sizable number of wolves were shot but genetic tests showed no degeneration (according to SvD). Wolf hunting is to continue however. No doubt the real reason for killing wolves is that hunters are concerned that wolves eat into their hunting potential. Some would say it goes deep in the male genes to kill.  But it also goes deep in human nature to protect – I dare say protection and social cohesion are our strongest survival instinct – being such physically weak animals without it. So let’s protect nature in all its glory. If they can do it in the third world – surely Sweden can do it too.

My darling idea is that in at least one area of Sweden there should be a proper game reserve …. Where game rangers only go in to kill as part of the balance of nature between plants, herbivores and carnivores when the natural balance fails. And where you have some sporting chance of seeing a carnivore. Very few people have seen the wolves of Bergslagen (though I myself have seen one, just before he was shot). Now there is even less chance after the killing spree of wolves recently. To be really far thinking the game reserve should be a large area to allow genetic variation in the animal stock, fenced to prevent wolves eating people’s sheep and so on (as they apparently occasionally do).

POSTCRIPT ON CONSUMPTION

And as a probably unwelcome postscript: If we make Sweden more rich in its natural treasures through conservation and sustainable forestry and tourism,  perhaps a simpler existence may seem worthwhile – and we will be tempted to consume less. Consumption is surely the real problem behind fuel reserves and global warming though it is the last problem we want to honestly face…

NOTE

On the web I found the following romantic text about the Kilsberg Hills (www.tysslingen.com):

“Nature and culture in the heart of Sweden. … Where the wilderness meets the bygone culture of the plains – smeltinghouse ruins and other relics of the past. Ramblers´trails cross the old ore routers (sic) (routes) and the rubble-stone beaches of ancient seas.”

The Kilsberg Hills (Kilsbergen) formed the coastline of a great sea only 10 000 years ago, and the chain of hills is fringed with sandy and pebbly ancient beaches. Below lie the flats of Örebro, stretching some 200 km to the Baltic, and once the floor of the sea, these days rippling in summer with wheatfields. The Kilsberg Hills lie in the wider hilly area of Bergslagen, an area known for its iron mining and iron smelting from the middle ages until the last century.

Ramshyttan is one of many small iron working communities in Bergslagen – called names like Pershyttan, Lockyttan, Garphyttan and Grythyttan since “hyttan” refers to the smelting works.  Ramshyttan’s iron working remains are mentioned in tourist literature.  The song writer Björkman lived in Ramshyttan and wrote the song Dans på Rusakula (the hill that crowns the Ecopark and looks out over the flats that once lay under the sea). Ramshyttan has attracted artists, potters, and singers to move in to its wooden houses some dating far back, others built in the early 1900s – as in other areas of Bergslagen. Ramshyttan’s other claim to fame is the shelter on the hiking trail Berslagsleden – situated exactly where Sveaskog has denuded a hillside in the last month. The only beautiful trees left around there are on private land – fortunately sold by Sveaskog before they began the last savage round of demolition.