Open petition for the UN condemning genetic engineering of trees: Finnish environmental groups have opened an alternative forest forum on the internet

/// Press release

Three Finnish environmental groups, the Union of Ecoforestry, the People´s
Biosafety Association, and Friends of the Earth Finland are protesting
against the decision made at the UN climate negotiations to approve
genetically modified trees as a way to remove carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere. “This is not the right way to go,” says Riitta Wahlström, chair
of the Union of Ecoforestry. “We do not need genetically modified trees on
the planet, and there are lots of good reasons to reject them.”
[:]The groups are demanding the UN Forest Forum to reject genetically modified
trees by issuing an open petition on the Internet. The petition and the
signatures will be presented to the UN Forum on Forests at its fourth
session in Geneva next May.

The petition condemns the pro-GM decision by the UN for being in breach of
the Rio Convention on Biodiversity as well as the Cartagena Protocol on

Forum for discussing the alternatives
Discussions on a global strategy for forests and the situation of forests in
various countries will be continued on the Internet. “Since we are rejecting
the idea of using genetically modified trees to prevent global warming, this
is the time for alternative approaches for silviculture and forestry to be
put forward,” says Hannu Hyvönen, coordinator for the Union of Ecoforestry,
clarifying the reasons for opening the forum.

Organic silviculture in preventing global warming
To open the discussion on the alternatives of forest management, the
People´s Forest Forum website provides a summary of the findings by
professor of silviculture Erkki Lähde and his research team. “Our studies
show that by applying in boreal forests a model called continuous cover
forestry, based on the inherently uneven structure of forests, we can raise
timber reserves quite significantly while increasing annual growth, as
well,” says professor Lähde, explaining the benefits of the alternative
model. “Giving up clearcutting and even-sized monocultures would also
significantly reduce the cost of regenerating the forests, as well as
promoting the protection of biodiversity and multiple use values.”

Taking a closer look at national forest reports
One of the goals of the Internet-forum is to produce critical material for
the UN Forest Forum, meeting in Geneva next May. The official reports of
individual countries can be found at .

“After reading the Finnish report I am amazed by the fact that it managed to
ignore all the major problems of forestry in Finland,” says doctor of forest
economy Lauri Vaara, commenting on the Finnish contribution to the upcoming
Forum. “I am afraid that the UN Forum will be presented with equally
distorted and embellished accounts by many other countries, as well. Instead
of creating illusions, what we need is facing the facts and engaging in an
open discussion.”

Member of the Finnish Parliament, Heidi Hautala (green) opened the
discussion on the People´s Forest Forum. Supporting the petition for a
global ban on GM-trees she writes:
-The petition highlights a worrying trend by governments to forget one
global task at the cost of the other. In opening the door to genetically
engineered trees and exotic or alien species in forestry aiming at storing
carbon dioxide as a part of the climate change efforts, they have shown how
little their earlier commitments to biodiversity mean. It is necessary to
alert the concerned citizens, scientists and civil society groups worldwide.

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