Holmen logging plans near Loberg's Cave on hold

Holmen has applied to the Swedish Forestry Agency to carry out final felling on an area of about 23 hectares in Nyliden, outside Bygdsiljum. This met with strong opposition from local residents, who felt that the logging would destroy the popular tourist destination of Loberg's Cave. As a result, Holmen is now reconsidering the plans.

Elin Bergh and Tommy Persson on Loberget, looking out over the forest that is in danger of being be felled.

Elin Bergh and Tommy Persson on Loberget, looking out over the forest that is in danger of being be felled.

Foto: Lars Westerlund

Bygdsiljum2023-08-02 09:41

Loberg's Cave (Lobergsgrottan) in Nyliden is Skellefteå's largest and longest cave.

– It is about 100 meters long. The entrance is narrow, but once you get through, the ceiling height varies between two and five metres, says Elin Bergh, who recently moved to Nyliden with her husband Tommy Persson.

Leonie Hüsler and Levi Dubach, from Switzerland, on the path to the Loberg cave.

She and several other local residents have contacted the Swedish Forest Agency (Skogsstyrelsen) and the County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen) to protest against the logging that Holmen Skog wants to carry out on Loberget and Storkorpen, a peak that has stood above the highest coastline since the last ice age. Primeval forest grows both on the top and on the southern slope of the mountain.

– There is a path from a farm here in Nyliden to Loberg's Cave. If Holmen is allowed to log and prepare the area, the charm of walking up through the old forest to the cave will disappear. It makes me sad, says Tommy Persson, adding that when they moved to Nyliden they assumed that the area Holmen has designated for logging was protected.

"I can only admit that we completely missed the impact of logging on this area" says David Rönnblom.

Norran accompanies Elin and Tommy up to Loberget, where there is a beautiful view.

– You can even see the sea from here, says Elin.

On the way down, we meet a Swiss couple who are on their way to the cave.

– Almost every day, someone visits the cave, says Tommy.

Loberg Cave is a very popular destination.

The fact that the logging will destroy an important tourist destination, which Skellefteå municipality also promotes on its website, is the strongest argument the villagers have against Holmen carrying out the logging. The villagers have also carried out an environmental inventory of the proposed logging area.

– We found a number of protected, low-growing orchids called knärot (creeping lady's-tresses)," says Elin.

The rare, endangered orchid, creeping lady's-tresses, has been identified by residents as growing in the area to be felled.

The orchid species has declined significantly across much of the country. According to the National Forest Inventory, the species declined by almost 50 percent in the 1990s, but seems to have stabilised at a lower level in the 2000s. Since 2020, knärot has been listed as endangered on the Swedish Red List.

Eurasian eagle owls have also been spotted in the designated logging area.

"You can even see the sea from Loberget," says Elin Bergh.

– They primarily breed in mountainous forest areas like this one. We have also seen several pairs of golden eagles, and in this forest, there are also lynxes, says Tommy.

Holmen's logging application was submitted to the Swedish Forest Agency on June 26, and their decision is expected after six weeks, i.e., on August 6. In addition to the feedback from local residents, there have been about thirty negative comments on the planned logging in the Bygdsiljum group on Facebook.

"If Holmen is allowed to carry out this felling, the pleasure of hiking up through the old-growth forest to the cave will disappear," says Tommy Persson.

– I can only admit that we completely overlooked the consequences of logging on this tourist destination. Therefore, we are now putting the logging plans aside and calling for consultations on this matter, and then we will decide how to proceed, says David Rönnblom, nature conservation expert at Holmen Skog.

He is not surprised that the villagers have found knärot in the area.

From a farm in Nyliden there is a path up to Loberg cave (Lobergsgrottan).

– It is a difficult orchid to inventory, and this is also something we need to investigate further, says David. He appreciates that the local people have given feedback on aspects that Holmen itself was not aware of.

– It shows that the notification process, where authorities and stakeholders have six weeks to submit requests for additional information and feedback, is working, he concludes.

Leonie Hüsler and Levi Dubach are fascinated by Swedish nature.
Old growth forest in the proposed logging area.
Old growth forest in the proposed logging area.

"All forest management practices that lead to drying out of the soil layer in the habitat are detrimental to the species. Clear-cutting and severe fires that destroy the soil layer make it impossible for the knärot to grow for a long time ahead, as it is strongly dependent on cooperation with fungi and stable moisture conditions," writes the Swedish Forest Agency on its website.

They argue that the species is in need of enhanced consideration.