Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sweden is a forest management model for the world, but...

Sweden, ah Sweden. Among other things the Scandinavian country is getting right, it is a forestry model for the world (including Canada).
Sweden now has about twice as much tree cover as it did a hundred years ago. And that is in a country that fells and exports an awful lot of trees. Over 70% of the country is forested; it possesses just under 1% of the world's commercial forest areas; and it provides just under 10% of the world's sawn timber, pulp and paper. Cutting down trees is big business in Sweden.
So, how then have they managed to increase their tree cover? Swedish forests declined alarmingly in the 19th century, when trees were harvested in a totally unregulated way for farming, house construction, fuel, charcoal for the iron industry, and paper production. In 1903, though, the first Forestry Act was passed in order to slow and even reverse the decline. Essentially, for every tree that is chopped down, at least one must be planted. Sounds like common sense, doesn't it? In addition, limits were set on the total amount of timber that can be harvested each year.
But all is not perfect in the Swedish garden. While total tree cover continues to increase, almost all of Sweden's forests are commercial, cultivated, managed forests, and only small areas of virgin forest remain in the northern mountains. As a result, biodiversity - of both trees and the animal and bird life that relies on it - is suffering.
Greenwash? Maybe, but from the point of view of climate change at least, Sweden can still teach most of the world an important lesson.

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