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ARC Home > Projects > Sacred gifts :
Swedish forests

SWEDEN: FSC Certification for Church Forests

UPDATE: AUGUST 2007, ABP, Europe largest pension fund, has allocated US$60m to the Global Solidarity Forest Fund (GSFF) of the Church of Sweden and Norway.

The Church of Sweden is one of the country’s largest forest owners. In an unprecedented move, it agreed in 2000 to move towards certifying 15 per cent of its forests – more than 100,000 hectares – as sustainably managed under the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines. It also permanently designated one twentieth of forests in all 13 of its dioceses as protected areas.

With this Sacred Gift, the Church became the first commercial forest owner in the country to join the FSC process. Its commitment to environmental sustainability at all levels of church life stems from its belief in social justice and the need to treat with respect the gift of creation.

By 2001, the forests of the Västerås, Strängnes, Uppsala, Stockholm and Visby dioceses were FSC-certified. By early 2003 the Church had exceeded its original target of 15% of the forests under FSC and had achieved 25%.

The forests of Omberg by Lake Vattern were given to the church in 1143
As the second part of its Sacred Gift, the Church of Sweden also pledged to boost its Parish Environmental Diploma scheme. The scheme requires parishes to conduct a comprehensive audit of resource use – both at an institutional level and in the domestic and professional lives of individual church members.

The scheme builds on recognised international environmental audit systems, but has adapted them specifically to the needs of the Church. Other churches, notably the Church of Norway, are considering their own versions of the scheme.

Initially the Church undertook to certify at least one hundred parishes by 2002. They reached this target by 2001 and now one quarter of all parishes have received an Environmental Diploma.

Further forestry links

** Link here to read more about ARC's forestry projects with the faiths.

** Link here to read a story from Friesch Dagbladet, a Dutch Christian newspaper, ARC's on the Gotland process.

** Link here for a keynote speech about faiths and forestry presented by ARC at a paper industry meeting about forests and the environment.

** Link here for details about Yews for the Millennium, launched by the Conservation Foundation to preserve ancient British yews.

** Link here for information about a community of Orthodox nuns based in France's Rhone Valley, who have undertaken to preserve their forest both as a properly managed commercial undertaking AND as a beautiful sacred place.

** Link here for the FSC website.

** Link here for the World Agroforestry Centre, which has invigorated the ancient practice of growing trees on farms, using innovative science to transform lives and landscapes.

** Link here for Skogforsk - the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden.

** Link here to view a video about forests - their history and their future from Skogforst.

** Link here for the Regional Forestry Commissions of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation.

** Link here for Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research.

** Link here for the UK-based Royal Forestry Society.

** Link here for the Canadian Forestry Association.

** Link here for the Center for International Forestry Research.

** Link here for the Rainforest Alliance.

** Link here for theCommonwealth Forestry Association, linking foresters around the world.

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Related information

Sacred Gifts found on other ARC project pages:

Cambodian pagodas
Daoist medicines
Synagogues audit
Sikh sustainable energy
City monastery reborn
Church climate action
Power & Light ministry