Management of the Swedish forest
40.7 million hectares is the largest land area in Sweden, around 70 percent of which is forested, of which around 75 percent is managed long-term. Wood is therefore Sweden's most important renewable raw material. The cycle time of trees (planting to harvest) in Sweden is around 80 to 120 years. This is primarily due to the climate. When the trees are harvested, an average of 11 percent of the area remains as a so-called general takeover. 25 percent of Sweden's forest areas are not managed for various reasons. This is usually due to the unproductivity of the forest area mentioned. Percent of Sweden's forest area is officially protected in nature reserves.
Is there still virgin forest in Sweden's forests?
Original forests, so-called virgin forests, are important. Virgin forests are home to many rare animal species. In Sweden, virgin forest / old-growth forest is defined according to the age of the stand. In the north of Sweden, an average age of 140 years and in the south one of 120 years are required to be considered a virgin forest. The lowest level of primeval forest in Sweden occurred at the end of the 20th century. However, from 1990 onwards, a positive development of the old stand has been measurable, which can be attributed to a stricter forestry model.
Older forest stands, over 160 years old and often providing important habitats for certain threatened species, can now be found to a small extent. But the fact that a forest is old does not necessarily mean that it has high natural values. The history of the forest, the degree of continuity, structures and the characteristics of the surrounding forest landscape also have a significant influence on forest quality.
Biological diversity in Sweden's forests
Conditions for biodiversity in forests have improved over the last 30 years. For example, the amount of dead wood and the proportion of old forest on areas used for forestry has increased by 80 percent. The proportion of hardwoods/deciduous trees has also tripled. The starting point for forestry is to manage the forest so that all naturally occurring species can survive in the forest landscape. By 2030, the members and forestry representatives will work to increase the old-growth forest area, the deciduous forest area, the dead wood volume and the large tree population by at least another 10 percent.
Sweden's forest plantations
Plantation forestry is often associated with intensively managed forests with very short rotation periods, consisting of trees planted in straight rows. This is what the young trees that burst in Sweden look like for the first time, but that picture changes quickly as natural regeneration contributes to a natural forest appearance in just a few years. However, the orbital period is long at the latitudes of Sweden. Sweden's growth cycles last from 60 to 120 years, depending on where the forest area is located. Usually after a few years, many self-sown trees of different tree species grow into the stand, resulting in a more varied forest. When wood is harvested, many trees and forest stands are left behind, become part of the new stand and help ensure that the new forest retains important elements of older trees. Even if a forest planted on certain areas in Sweden has certain visual similarities to plantation forestry, it is not a plantation by definition.
The many debates in forestry
In both Sweden and the EU we are facing important political decisions affecting forestry. There are many different interests. Which show the intensified debate among environmental organizations and the media, among others. The discussion is also about the role of the forest for the climate and the forest as a recreational and adventure space.