Thursday, 17 September 2015 06:06

Systematic nature conservation resulting in increased forest growth

sodra logoOver the past 20 years, Södra has taken a systematic approach to its nature conservation work. These efforts have resulted in voluntarily protected areas with high conservation values and a production forest with growing conservation values. At the same time, we are seeing increased growth in forests, with a larger wood volume - in other words, forests where production and conservation values go hand in hand.

As a result of the company's long-term nature conservation work, the areas with the highest conservation values are now protected. Our members have chosen to certify forest holdings covering 23,000 forest estates. They have also agreed to obtain a Green Forest Management Plan, which requires forest owners to set aside at least 5 percent of their forest area for nature conservation. A total of 8 percent of the forest area (140,000 hectares) has now been set aside for nature conservation purposes, equivalent to more than 200,000 football fields.

During harvesting, consideration is always given to small biotopes and valuable trees. Södra also provides a soil protection guarantee in connection with final harvesting. Since 2012, the amount of soil damage has been reduced by more than 50 percent. Södra performs annual management measures on more than 2,000 hectares of forest in order to preserve and improve the conservation values associated with NS stock (nature conservation care required).   Forestry methods have been developed to be less invasive to the surrounding environment, thus resulting in a rich, healthy and growing forest for a long time to come.

Forests have displayed better growth and the wood volume has increased during the time that Södra has applied a systematic approach to nature conservation. The growth of forests in Götaland has risen by 1 percent per year over the past few decades.

Systematic forest management and nature conservation work does not generate results quickly. It takes many years before tangible changes can be seen.

"Although our nature conservation work is successful now, this was not the case to begin with. We have focused on this over a long period and it has taken time to reach the point we are at today," says Göran Örlander, Head of Forest Management at Södra.

Commitment and persistence yield results
Södra began its systematic approach to nature conservation 20 years ago. Thoughts of introducing environmental certification and Green Forest Management Plans started to be developed. Södra recruited its first forest ecologist and nature conservation work was launched on a broad front.  Södra has achieved a great deal, although much remains to be done.

"Our members have shown a tremendous amount of commitment and interest in nature conservation. They continuously provide us with new questions, thereby enabling us to constantly develop our operations," says Göran Örlander.

Balance between nature conservation and production
Ensuring that nature conservation is present in every detail of our daily work, and confirming this in surveys, is an ongoing process. The development of less invasive forest technology is continuing and Södra has now also started to introduce Blue Environmental Classification for aquatic environments in Green Forest Management Plans.

Being able to conduct dedicated nature conservation activities balanced with maintaining production values is central to the survival of the industry.

"The financial aspect of forestry must always be included in all development activities. Both the economy and society need a vibrant forest industry," says Göran Örlander.

Facts:
A Green Forest Management Plan includes an environmental classification of the individual stand, a description of the forest status and proposals for professional measures to be taken. One of the proposals is that 5 percent of the forest area be set aside for nature conservation.  Södra produces annual Green Forest Management Plans for about 180,000 hectares of forest. Green driving licenses serve as a certificate of proficiency that environmental consideration is included in forestry work. All contractors who perform such work on Södra's behalf hold a green driving license.  

For comments:
Göran Örlander, Head of Forest Management,
Tel: +46 470 893 62

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