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Battle over ancient Swedish forest

Environmentalists warn judges that damaging precedent will be set if large-scale limestone mining is permitted in Ojnare forest

Source:  Copyright 2012, Guardian
Date:  September 17, 2012
Byline:  Sylvia Rowley
Original URL: Status ONLINE

A landmark case that could affect the fate of forests across Sweden reaches its final stage today in the supreme court.

Environmentalists have warned that a damaging precedent will be set if Finnish company Nordkalk is allowed to carry out large-scale limestone mining in an ancient, biodiverse habitat on the northern Swedish island of Gotland.

The planned limestone quarry would destroy part of Ojnare forest and neighbouring wetlands, a region that borders two protected areas and is so valuable that the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to turn it into a national park.

"We have species and habitats here that are not present anywhere else in Sweden, and in some cases not on the entire planet," says Nils Hallberg, a lawyer at the agency. Protected animals in the area include the large blue butterfly and Montagu's harrier, a bird of prey.

Environmental groups have appealed to the supreme court in a last-ditch attempt to halt ...

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