Nature considerations are a self-evident part of all of our forest operations. We also take the action required to combine productive and profitable forest management with effective nature conservation that preserves biodiversity.
The preservation of biodiversity is one of our most important sustainability targets. We work to achieve this target in all areas of our forest management. We have audited all of our forest assets to identify areas of high conservation value, but also to identify habitats that have become more rare in our managed forests, such as fire-marked forests or forests dominated by deciduous trees. Unspoiled areas that are an important prerequisite for conservation values, such as certain swamp forests, are exempt from forestry. In other cases, active efforts are required to ensure that conservation values are maintained in the landscape and they can then become subject to management using alternative methods.
Forest cultivated with normal nature considerations is carefully planned. Areas of particular conservation value are identified ahead of forestry measures and are managed based on their specific values. Finally, our forest machine operators are well-trained in nature conservation and nature considerations and choose, for example, which trees are to be left untouched for conservation reasons in conjunction with harvesting.
We have a project in progress to enhance the precision of our nature conservation. We have analyzed the species of flora and fauna that exist in the company’s forests and how these are impacted by forestry. The vast majority of species have ample habitats in forests managed with a normal level of nature conservation. Approximately 200 species are disadvantaged by forest management with a normal level of conservation. They either need more unspoiled environments – for example, shade, moisture and deadwood at varying degrees of decomposition – or they need a larger or different impact than that offered by forest management with a normal level of conservation, such as fire.
With the support of this analysis, we will increase the effectiveness of our nature conservation efforts. We will also carefully monitor the effects of the measures we take. SCA's initiative for biodiversity conservation
We have conducted such an analysis. The risks to which our forests are exposed are fire, wind, drought and more favorable conditions for such pests as insects, fungi and ungulates. Forestry is also subject to the short-term risks of ground frost, with the restrictions that this can entail, and drought, which could impact the conditions for soil scarification and planting. A changed climate will probably also yield benefits, such as an extended vegetation season and the resulting higher growth.
Many of the risks are offset by active forest management. Vigorous and flourishing forest better counteracts such risks as wind, fungi and insects. Fire can be prevented by good planning, reconnaissance and preparedness for rapid and early fire-fighting efforts.
What proportion of your forest land holding do you set aside for nature conservation?
8% of SCA’s productive forest land area is set aside from forestry in our ecological landscape plans. A further 5% of the productive forest land area is managed using alternative methods to create habitats for sensitive animal and plant species. 13-14% of the harvested area is exempt from forestry in the form of various types of conservation – groups of trees, buffer zones, etc.
We have conducted an analysis of the biodiversity in our forests and established that about 200 species are disadvantaged by forest management using a normal level of nature conservation. This primarily involves insects, wood-decay fungi, mosses and lichen. We have identified the habitat requirements of these species and are now planning our forest management to ensure that these habitats continue to be available in the forest landscape in the future. This includes forest with certain natural values being set aside from forestry, as well as active measures required for species that need, for example, burnt wood or old, dying deciduous trees. Further information on our initiative to protect biodiversity in the forest can be found here.
In respect of our own sustainability targets, but also in respect of the Swedish standards for FSC and PEFC certification, we have committed to protecting key habitats on our own land, as well as to refrain from the purchase of wood from forests of high conservation value. Land with key habitat qualities is included in the 8% of SCA’s productive forest land that we have set aside in our ecological landscape plans. We now refer to this as ecological landscape planning.
As a large forest owner, SCA is subject to thorough examination, particularly by nature conservation organizations. SCA has been reported for breaches of the certification standard and the Swedish Forest Agency has been reported for not making sufficient demands regarding red-listed species in the processing of SCA’s harvesting notifications. The company has thorough procedures to identify and appropriately manage conservation value on SCA’s land. Whenever nature conservation organizations have brought conservation values on our lands to the attention of the company, this information is analyzed and adjustments can be made to the company’s plans based on the analysis. The company may also conclude that adequate consideration has been taken of the conservation values found in the planned felling site.
Nature conservation agreements, biotope protection areas and nature reserves are three forms of formal protection for high natural values. However, at least an equally important aspect of this protection is conducted entirely voluntarily, through forest owners themselves choosing to set aside or otherwise protect habitats in forests.
Sweden’s County Administrative Boards and the Swedish Forestry Agency represent the state in terms of selecting and formally protecting areas that are considered valuable in terms of biodiversity. In addition to formal protection, many forest owners also choose to protect and preserve valuable nature on a voluntary basis. SCA, which is Europe’s largest private forest owner, takes a wide range of active steps, including:
The above initiatives are regulated by legislation and by the FSC and PEFC voluntary forestry certifications. Under the auspices of certification efforts, SCA is actively working with a programme to improve the protection of 203 red-listed animal and plant species in its own forests. Based on the red list, (drawn up by Artdata Bank, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), the programme has identified 12 different habitats that are deemed to represent the requirements set by the 203 at-risk species.
“Just as in everything we do, we also want to have a high efficiency in the protection of biological diversity and then it is important to increase the precision. There is a whole range of nature conservation measures within tract farming. Valuable habitats can be protected through reserves, conservation management or good environmental consideration when felling. Valuable habitats can also be created by nature conservation burning or, for example, by creating dead wood,” says Ola Kårén, Chief Forester at SCA.
“Focusing more on relevant measures in habitats for species affected by forestry is better than simply setting aside forest land. By focusing on specific measures, you can take active responsibility for the forests that are most valuable for biological diversity,” says Ola.