Professor Sennerby Forsse,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to welcome you to Sweden and to this conference today.
Sweden is a long and narrow country, almost 1600 kilometers from North to South. The northern part stretches far above the Arctic Circle. The climate differs a lot with a growing season of only 120 days per year in the North; in the South it is twice as long. You can imagine the different challenges to the farmers in the different parts of our country.
All of us grow up with a special relationship to nature; we love to be outdoors, summer and winter. We live with the changes of seasons and are now looking forward very much to celebrating the peak of the year.
The “Right of Public Access" is well-known to Swedes but also to many foreign tourists. By law everyone has a possibility to enjoy any forest, grazing land or lake. However, it also implies a moral responsibility for everyone to care for the nature and the environment, not to disturb people or to litter the ground.
I have been a Boy Scout for more than 50 years. Respect for nature is a major point in the code of values for the Scout Movement. My personal interest in the environment started at home, in the family circle. My Mother loved nature and taught me how to appreciate and respect it.
I did not have to think twice joining what was then the World Wildlife Fund, to follow closely the preparations for the first UN Environment Conference, held in Stockholm in 1972 or to regularly arrange and host, in cooperation with the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Royal Colloquia on themes such as climate change, the Arctic environment and so on.
Nowadays, though, I work with another project as well. On the Estate of Stenhammar, a little more than an hour south of Stockholm, I am proud of being engaged in a major restoration project of the semi-natural grasslands in order to preserve the high cultural and biological values of the area.
Four years ago a strategic decision was made to establish a high quality cattle breeding farm. Modern cow stables were built. This “grass-based production system" is supposed to include a herd of 300 sucker cows, calves and heifers, which means more than 600 animals at the end of the grazing period.
The aims of the Stenhammar cattle management are
- To breed animals which are healthy, sound and productive. Easy calving is important from the point of view of animal wellbeing, as well as for the economic output.
- With the help of grazing cattle to re-establish the traditional managed beautiful pastures.
- To create an open and welcoming landscape for the visitors to Stenhammar.
- The ultimate goal is to combine a profitable and sustainable animal production to reach high biological, aesthetical and cultural values.
This project could not have been realized without the cooperation of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the SLU. You have been invaluable advisors to us and in return we have been able to give your students access to Stenhammar for all kinds of research. In short, we have had a fruitful exchange of know-how and resources.
I am proud to be able to say that the activities at Stenhammar follow the same motto as this conference: “BIODIVERSITY AND ANIMAL FEED".
I wish you good luck and inspiration and hereby declare the "Conference on Biodiversity and Animal Feed" open.