Nordic’s a world player in the supply of forest products – SNS report

Despite having only 1.6 percent of the world’s forested area, the Nordic countries account for 13 percent of the world’s wood pulp production, 15 percent of sawn timber exports, and 18 percent of exported paper and paper products. Within Europe, 30 percent of total sawn softwood timber comes from the Nordic countries, according to a new report published by SamNordisk Skogforskning/Nordic Forest Research (SNS).

The Nordic region, which includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, is relatively small and sparsely populated. About 27 million people inhabit 1 138 000 square kilometres (km2), a part of which located north of the Arctic Circle. Forest and other wooded land cover 55 percent of the region, and in Finland and Sweden, this figure exceeds two-thirds, making them the most forested countries in Europe.

Despite the limited domestic demand for forest products in the Nordic countries, the region has a world-class forest industry, which has played a significant role in its wealth-building. The total forest area of all five countries is only 1.6 percent of the global forest area. Still, the paper and lumber exports account for 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively, of the two products international trade.

The Nordic forest is a significant player in the combat against climate change, both as a provider of substitutes to fossil products and as a carbon sink through its growing stock. Besides, forests are home to thousands of species, some unique to the region, and they also constitute an appreciated recreation area for people.

Pilot project
These are some of the findings of the inaugural report titled “Nordic Forest Statistics 2020 Resources, industry, trade, conservation and climate” which contains data on forest resources, industrial production, trade, raw material prices, the environment, and climate benefits. presents selected statistics of forest resources, the forest industry, forest products trade, conservation, and forest-related climate impact from all the Nordic countries.

Despite having only 1.6 percent of the world’s forested area, the Nordic countries account for 13 percent of the world’s wood pulp production, 15 percent of sawn timber exports, and 18 percent of exported paper and paper products. Within Europe, 30 percent of total sawn softwood timber comes from the Nordic countries (graphic courtesy SNS).

Part of these statistics, country by country, can be found in databases and official reports from, for instance, the EU and FAO. However, data from these sources is not always up to date, sometimes not harmonized, and not readily available, or has not been asked for.

Nordic Forest Research (SNS) decided to support this data compilation as a pilot study of what data is most in-demand and what statistics are available. The assignment went to consultants Mats Hannerz, Silvinformation, and Håkan Ekström, Wood Resources International (WRI) who together have reviewed and processed different statistical sources for the report’s contents.

We have needed this report for a long time. When we talk about the importance of Nordic forests in Europe and the world, it is highly valuable that we can support what we say with numbers, said Jonas Rönnberg, head of the SNS secretariat.

Solid data
The current report presents up-to-date statistics as possible for forest resources, employment, forest industry, trade and prices, conservation, and climate mitigation. The aim is to support decision-makers, researchers, and media with comparable and quality-checked statistics, and present them in a format, which is easy to use in reports or presentations.

WRI has been working for decades on global and regional forest analyses, which require statistical data in their own right.

Exports, imports, and prices can quickly rise or fall, and it is important to have the most up-to-date figures possible. Therefore, much of our data is current through 2019 or even 2020, said Håkan Ekström.

Growing forests are also of great importance for carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration. Reports to the UN Climate Secretariat UNFCCC are important to show how emissions change over time and how they are balanced by carbon that is sequestered in forests and wood products.

The Tomsängen nature reserve in Sweden is one example of a strictly protected forest area set aside for biodiversity and ecosystem service purposes. The almost 28 ha Natura 2000 reserve consists of a mix of rewilded pasture with mature oaks and hazel understory, high deadwood content, wetland alder stands, and large aspens hosting a variety of flora and fauna.

In the same way, reports to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on protected areas are important to see how countries live up to the Aichi target that 17 percent of the Earth’s land and water surface should be set aside for biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Here, Denmark, Iceland, and Norway have exceeded the target, while Finland and Sweden have some way to go. However, Finland and Sweden lead Europe in terms of area of strictly protected forest.

We hope that the report will be discussed and that there is a demand for an annual update. There may be other issues that need to be addressed, but about which it is currently tricky to find data that is harmonized among countries. These include gender equality, labour availability, outdoor activities, and other aspects of the multiple uses of forests, said Mats Hannerz.

By Alan Sherrard | March 14, 2021

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