Active approach for richer biodiversity

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Sweden’s viable forests must be developed to increase growth rates and biodiversity – something that SCA was worked on systematically for many years and is now a stated pledge in the forest industry’s collaborative efforts. “There are some excellent projects that will produce good results, but it’s important that the industry works together and has common goals. This will strengthen and increase the value of sustainable forestry,” says Ola Kårén, Chief Forester at SCA.

SCA and more than 200 other companies that are members of industry organisation Swedish Forest Industries, have agreed on a future agenda that includes several pledges. One of these is that Swedish forests must be even more viable and more biodiverse by 2040. 

Kårén believes that the joint pledges are of considerable value even though SCA and other companies have been activley working on these issues for a long time. 

“It takes many years from the time a change is implemented in a forest until the measure takes effect. For example, about two decades ago, changes were made in how we manage the forest. Now we have smaller clearings, leave large areas of forest untouched, take other precautionary measures, and address biodiversity in forest planning completely differently. Over time, what we are doing now will contribute to different structures with more deciduous forest, more dead wood and larger areas of older forest,” explains Kårén. 

“In Västerbotten, for example, we have land where we’re proud to see that the White-backed Woodpecker has established itself. This is testament to the work we’ve done and an indication that these areas have become suitable for a large number of other species as well,” Kårén says. 

SCA works proactively to promote biodiversity. For example, the company has 203 animal and plant species that are designated as species of special concern. These are protected species found on the company’s land and that can be affected by forestry. As a result, SCA has identified 10 different habitats that meet the ecological requirements of the species, and implements targeted measures to preserve and develop these habitats. 

“One obvious example is conservation burning in areas where we know there are protected species that benefit from the presence of burnt wood. So, we go in and conduct controlled burning to help these species to multiply,” says Kårén. 

SCA also conducts other initiatives that contribute to improving biodiversity, for example by restoring wetlands in appropriate areas and in other targeted projects. 

One example is the LIFE Revives water conservation project, which aims to restore populations of river pearl mussels and their habitat in northern Sweden. This is done in collaboration with a large number of other actors and runs until 2027. 

In parallel to this, SCA also runs five large “biodiversity parks” across the areas where the company is present.

The biodiversity parks consist of areas that have greater biodiversity than the forest typically has. The parks comprise chunks of land ranging is size between 1,300 and more than 3,000 hectares. A large proportion of the productive forest land area is set aside or managed using methods that specifically protect natural, cultural or social values and by doing so, we support landscape nature conservation efforts.