Uppsala. Sweden. The occupation of the forest aim to stop the clear cut of a centenary forest. Besqab company and Uppsala commune have plans to build luxury apartments.
Originally published by Squat Net.
The gentrification of Uppsala has been an ongoing process over many years. 2013 saw a luxury renovation of Rikshem’s housing in Gränby, 2016 saw the demolition of the community center (sw. allaktivitetshuset, colloquially known as Allis) on Kungsgatan for a luxury housing development project by Magnolia Bostad. The end of 2020 require the youth center (Ungdomens hus) to move for the space it currently occupies can be used for more lucrative endeavors. These mentioned are only a few examples of gentrification and urbanization that results in increased rent and degradation of living standards. However, the gentrification monster is still hungry and has its sights set on the forest. Blodstensskogen along with other various surrounding nature areas are on the menu as the appetizer, Norra Lunsen as a possible main course, and we can only imagine what will be served as dessert.
Eriksberg is currently in the most acute danger, as the company Besqab plans to begin its housing development project of Blodstensskogen. The company, along with the municipality, believe that something more important than biodiversity is luxury housing (four 8-story apartment buildings and five 4-story apartment buildings) along with a shopping center where customers can consume relentlessly.
Blodstensskogen plays a crucial role for a healthy and thriving natural environment in Eriksberg as it functions as a green corridor allowing various species to move between the nature reserves Stadsskogen and Hågadalen. Furthermore, Blodstensskogen is an old-growth forest containing trees attaining an age of over 200 years old without significant disturbance. Old-growth forests such as this one, that are not intensively harvested, exhibit unique ecological features and they crucially allow biodiversity to thrive. The importance of such natural areas is well established in the scientific community and has even been reported on locally in P4 Upplands radio documentary “Hundreds of species suffer as the forests of Uppland are cleared” . More than 700 red listed species are facing the threat of extinction as they are negatively impacted due to intensive forest clearing. Allowing trees to follow their natural life cycle and permitted to die naturally is perhaps the most important aspect of a large problem in Sweden. This problem is caused by constant and intensive forest destruction to feed the ever-lucrative forestry industry. Animals, plants, insects, and fungi that rely on fallen trees find it increasingly difficult to find an appropriate habitat, and are thus facing extinction. Blodstensskogen, for example, is inhabited by the black woodpecker (Drycopus martius). This woodpecker is an endangered keystone species (one that plays a key role in holding ecosystems in balance) that rely on old fallen trees as both breeding grounds and a source for food. The Bern Convention (EU’s treaty for the conservation of fauna and flora) identified the black woodpecker as seriously threatened and placed them as a species strictly protected. Furthermore, their habitats are protected under Sweden’s national laws, specifically “§3 i jaktlagen (1987:259)” and ”§1 i artskyddsförordningen”. How is it possible that Besqab is granted permission to cut down a forest that most clearly should be protected?! Does the municipality prioritize profits over a living and breathing ecosystem?
It is not only these aforementioned endangered species, but also humans that rely on Blodstensskogen. The health of residents in Eriksberg will suffer from this planned deforestation. The forest provides locals with clean air and a place for outdoor activities such as cardiovascular exercise. With a school nearby, it provides the children contact with nature that is becoming difficult to come by thanks to industrialization and digitalization. This is not a question of free time activities being disrupted, but a vital component to the equation for good health. The Corona crisis we are currently experiencing has highlighted how urbanization leads to a higher risk of infection and how pandemics are a direct consequence of environmental degradation due to industrialization and urban sprawl. In a recent article regarding COVID-19 published by “The Guardian” , experts underline how critical it is to change our way of living to avoid future pandemics. Public health should be a priority for the municipality rather than profits.
Those that would rather Blodstensskogen remain a forest than a concrete monstrosity includes more than the scientific community. The network “Rädda Eriksbergs skogar” has an ongoing appeal against the exploitation and therefore the felling of the forest has not yet begun. Regardless of the network’s efforts, the appeal may be difficult to win as the forest and housing industries are influential markets where many politicians have interest. This situation has prompted the construction of a treehouse in order to occupy Blodstensskogen in protest until Besqab cancels plans to develop this area. The municipality has written that they plan to demolish the treehouse as early as June 7th. Occupation will be maintained out of solidarity for all black woodpeckers, beetles, Lophophanes, squirrels, natterer’s bats, and residents of Eriksberg that are threatened by inflated housing expenses and destruction of their local environment.
No compromise for a living Uppsala!
Updates will follow.
We are the nature that defends its self.
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