Sawmills that use every last millimetre of sawn timber in the best possible way and industries that refine pulp in the best possible way. It’s vital to increase the value of SCA’s forests over time. “It’s also important that we manage the forests in such a way that they achieve a high rate of growth and produce great quality wood. At the same time, of course, we need to protect biodiversity and many other values in our forests,” says Jonas Mårtensson, President of SCA’s Forest business unit.
Several new major SCA facilities will soon enter service. In Obbola, the world’s largest kraftliner (packaging paper) machine has started operating, which will increase the need for pulp wood. At Ortviken in Sundsvall, a new plant for chemical thermomechanical pulp, CTMP, is due to open, which will eventually see SCA’s production of CTMP increase from 90,000 tonnes today to 300,000 tonnes. Birch pulpwood will be a very important raw material for this facility. “Refining more birch from our own forests and from other forest owners in Norrland is a strategic investment. The volume of birch harvested from forests in Northern Sweden is increasing,” says Mårtensson, adding: “We have the skills and technologies to optimise the use of birch and produce customised pulp products for our customers.”
Contorta pine now being processed at SCA sawmills
A lot is happening on the sawmill side of the business, as well. For example, we have started sawing contorta pine at our sawmill in Gällö. Contorta pine (Pinus contorta) is originally a North American tree species that grows approximately 40 per cent faster than Swedish pine on comparable land. “We have approximately 300,000 hectares of contorta pine on our land and now it’s time to rejuvenate some of our stock. So, of course we have to use that raw material in the most efficient way possible. In Gällö, we’re investing in new dryers, which are adapted to the specific requirements of drying contorta pine,” says Mårtensson. SCA processed approximately 30,000 cubic meters of contorta pine in 2022; this amount will virtually double in 2023.
Optimising the use of every log
Another major sawmill investment is the new sorting mill which is set to open in Bollsta in Kramfors municipality. The very latest quality sorting of sawn timber will be performed at the plant, and with the help of advanced digital technologies, we ensure that our customers receive products with exactly the properties they have ordered. “We 3D scan logs even before they are sawn so we know exactly their internal properties, such as twigs and corewood. This gives us fantastic opportunities to choose what to manufacture from each log, so that we can deliver exactly what customers want and use our raw material in the very best way,” says Jerry Larsson, President SCA Wood. The new technology also makes wood more competitive in relation to other materials. “Customers want products with exact dimensions, specific properties and very consistent quality. We can now raise the bar even further and become even more precise. This means that we can compete even more effectively against materials such as plastic and steel, with which it is easy to mass-produce homogeneous products,” says Larsson, adding: “Furthermore, wood is a durable and climate-smart material, which is of course very important for today’s consumers.”
Increasing the value of the forest
Efficient sawmills and industries, that produce exactly what customers want, not only create profitability for sawmills and industries, it also increases the value of SCA’s forest holdings. “It also secures the value of the forest for all other forest owners in northern Sweden. Because there are competitive and profitable businesses that obtain more value out of each tree, the forest land and the timber on it become more valuable. Progress towards a fossil-free society will also result in value growth, as demand increases for the forest industry’s sustainable products,” says Mårtensson.
The forest is an eternal resource
SCA manages its forests actively and for the long-term to promote high growth rates and create wood that maintains high quality. “We’ve never had as much forest as we do today. Key reasons for that include the fact that we plant at least two seedlings for every tree felled, that we clear and sort in good time, and plant contorta pine on some of our land,” Mårtensson says. Due to our active management approach, SCA has been able to increase felling for an extended period, while the volume of standing forest has increased substantially. And this is a trend that will continue in the future. “Properly managed forests are an eternal resource,” notes Mårtensson, and adds that the economic value is one of several goals of forestry. “We practice responsible forestry where we combine high production with wide-ranging efforts to preserve and develop the forest’s other values. For example, this applies to biodiversity, sites of historical and cultural interest and much more.” Active forest management is also vital in efforts to combat climate change. Forests with high growth actually sequesters large amounts of carbon dioxide, while unused forests emit carbon dioxide over time. “High growth rates also provide more raw material for products that replace fossil-based products. In this way, fossil-based carbon can be kept in the ground,” says Mårtensson.