Sustainable forestry – the Nordic countries’ model


Have you ever thought about what we can produce from a tree? More than half of a tree volume is used by the forest industry. The lower part of the tree end up in wood products, the middle part is used by the pulp and paper industry, and the top, bark and branches are used for energy production. From a single tree, you get 8 tree boards, 4 planks, cartonboard for 1500 drink packages of 1 liter, and wood chips for power and heating plants. Forests are a major source of renewable resources. If managed responsibly, they also contribute to sustainability. Finland and Sweden are largely covered by forests (73% resp. 69% of the total land area)(1).

BillerudKorsnäs believes that forests must be utilized sustainably, and that wood, biofuel and other forest products should replace fossil-based alternatives. Forests and forestry play a key role in the work to combat climate change, and active forestry with good growth produces the best climate benefit, in combination with replacing fossil and resource-intensive raw materials with renewable wood raw material. Occasionally, it is claimed in the debate that the best way to protect the climate it to leave all forests untouched, but if we want to generate climate benefits, it is actually a matter of felling trees when they have grown to their optimal volume. Forests displaying strong growth capture much more carbon dioxide than old forests, where the pace of growth has slowed.







Tall stumps: All dead wood is a benefit to the insect world, which in turn is food for other critters




If you walk in a Swedish forest landscape, you are likely to find non-productive landmarks, 5-10% of broad-leaf trees, conservation values trees, dead wood or high stocks saved after thinning for insects.  Although not obvious, these considerations are essential to comply with the requirements for certification (eg FSC or PEFC). Which often rely on three core values:

  • Economic values (ensure regeneration, quality selection, optimized production or sustainable growth)
  • Social values (workers rights, multiple use forestry, recreation and indigenous people)
  • Environmental values (high conservation values, or water status)

All these aspects make me want to go to work every morning and to take a walk in the forests during the week ends.




Social values of forestry: recreation


1) FAO Yearbook of Forest Products 2010



Christophe Barbier

Specialist Paper Physics