Skip to main content

What’s the difference between a natural forest, a production forest and non-productive forest land? We have met Per Simonsson, nature conservation specialist and forest ecologist, who told us more about the forest types in Sweden.

In Sweden, there are 27,9 million hectares of forest land of which 23,5 million hectares of productive forest land. Six percent of the productive forest land is formally protected in the form of national parks, nature reserves, biotope protection and montane forests. An additional five percent of the productive forest land is protected through voluntary set-asides (>0.5 ha) by landowners, as well as an additional two percent in the form of small (<0.5 ha) environmental consideration set asides in connection to logging operations. In addition to this, there are also 4.5 million hectares of low-productivity forest, which is protected from forest operations according to the Swedish Forest Protection Act.

"In Sweden, 26 per cent of the productive forest is protected from felling or through consideration"
– Per Simonsson

Of the productive forest land area, less than 10 percent consists of different types of natural forest, of which 0.4 million ha outside formally set aside areas. The natural forests are protected according to the certification rules from FSC and PEFC. This means that the natural forests must not be felled.

18 per cent of the Swedish forest land consists of low-productivity forests, which are characterised by trees growing less than one cubic meter of forest per hectare/year.  These forests are protected by The Swedish Forest Act, which means that no felling may take place.

In today’s forestry, environmental considerations and nature conservation have developed and become an integral part of forestry. The amount of dead wood left in the forest, for example, has increased significantly, riparian buffer zones to water are protected, and areas of consideration are left.

Before the production and environmental goals were balanced in the Swedish Forest Act of 1993, felling areas were larger and environmental concerns were less. Today, these forests regenerated before the Swedish forest policy change can be recognized by the fact that they are relatively homogeneous, and that species that thrive in dead wood are missing.

Today, it is increasingly common to mix broadleaf trees and coniferous trees in the forest, to ensure diversity of wood species. A young forest today therefore looks completely different compared to how a young forest did in the 1970s.

"In the south of Sweden, the forest has been so heavily felled that almost everything you do leads to improvements"
– Per Simonsson

In the movie, Per lists suggestions for improvements in three areas that he believes should be addressed:

  1. Protect more broadleaf forests
  2. Protect more natural forests in the interior of Norrland
  3. Protect parts of the montane forests that are worth protecting

Watch the movie to learn more about the different types of forests in Sweden!