Excluding small areas from felling will not ensure the survival of all plants and animals that live in the forest. Some species require larger areas. This means that nature conservation must be planned from a landscape perspective, which is why we establish ecological landscape plans.

In our ecological landscape planning (ELP), we set aside conservation areas. These are areas that are larger than about one hectare, where harvesting has been excluded or postponed, or that are managed with alternative methods.

We also try to link the untouched forests in a network to provide natural pathways for animals and plants, such as corridors along bogs and streams.

Restore forest environments

Since the forests have been managed for such a long time, some forest landscape environments are now rare. We are therefore trying to restore the rare environments that are essential for the survival of some plants and animals. These include woodland that has burnt, since forest fires are now rare and quickly extinguished, as well as hardwood forests.

A living document

The ecological landscape plans are living documents that can be changed. If we discover new significant areas, they must be added to the landscape plans. At the same time, other areas are removed if they lose their value for some reason, or are no longer considered sufficiently significant.

The purpose of these changes is to optimize the nature conservation process.

Ecological landscape planning is carried out in five stages:

  1. Division into landscapes
  2. Conservation value inventory
  3. A landscape analysis
  4. A landscape plan
  5. Restoration of habitats

The FSC® standard stipulates that at least 5% of the total forest holding must be set aside as a fully protected area. An overview of our ecological landscape plans shows that we fulfill this requirement. 

Division into landscapes

Landscape plans are made for large areas, known as “landscapes.”

A landscape isbetween 5,000 and 50,000 hectares and is usually defined by natural borders,such as watersheds. SCA has set individual objectives for each landscape, suchas setting aside at least 2.5% of the forest for conservation areas.

Conservation value inventory

A prerequisite for ecological landscape planning is knowing the location of significant forests that need to be protected.

As a result, we have performed inventories of our forests to identify areas with high conservation value that we consider require protection. We call these areas critical habitats.

The inventories have largely been carried out by specially trained biologists. Critical habitats have been classified according to a three-tier scale. The highest classification, or the most significant areas, consists of key habitats. Some examples are old-growth coniferous forest, old hardwood forests and swamp forests. Key characteristics of these key habitats are dead trees, thick fallen logs (dead tree trunks lying on the ground) and old trees.

About 1% of SCA's woodland comprises key habitats, corresponding to approximately 20,000 hectares.

Landscape analysis

We begin with a landscape analysis to find out everything we can about the forest in the area. To do this, we use computers which provides information about areas of mixed-wood forest, age distribution in the forest, and areas with various critical habitats.

We also produce reference maps, such as maps of the critical habitats identified in the conservation value inventory. We also use data from county administrative boards and voluntary associations as part of this process.

Landscape plan

When the landscape analysis is complete, we prepare the landscape plan. We then set aside conservation areas – areas to be excluded from traditional forest management due to their high conservation value.

In the conservation areas, we decide whether the forest should be fully set aside, which means that we delay the felling of a stand that is mature from a commercial perspective, or whether management should be performed using alternative methods.

We also try to link the untouched forests in a network to provide natural corridors for animals and plants.

Restoration of habitats

Ecological landscape planning involves more than preserving significant environments. Sometimes we have to recreate certain environments to preserve the biological diversity.

One example ofa rare habitat is burned areas. Modern forest fires are rare events, and oftenquickly extinguished. However, some plants and animals rely on burnt land orwood and we carry out controlled burning to help these species survive.

Other examples of rare habitats are hardwood forests, and pine forests with trees of varying ages.