Swedens’ former prime minister Göran Persson firmly believes that it’s possible to combine modern forestry with strict environmental requirements. As a forest owner himself, he has seen first-hand how forests have developed since the 90s.
Today, extensive nature conservation measures are standard in forestry. In Sweden, the current Forestry Act was adopted in 1993, changing the conditions of how forestry is conducted. It brought change in forestry due to the fact that environmental care and production goals became equally prioritized. This was an important decision that strengthened environmental practices in forestry.
The Forestry Act also gave forest owners the freedom to manage the forest in the ways that best suited the local conditions and the objectives of the business – provided that they stay within the framework of sustainable forestry. This has led to that the number of deciduous trees, old trees, biotopes and dead wood and high stumps have increased rapidly since the 90s.
In Europe a sustainable way of managing the forests have resulted in actual growth of the EU forests. According to data from European Forest Institute, the forest area in the EU expanded by 14 million hectares between 1990 and 2020. That is equal to the total land area of Hungary and Slovakia combined.
This positive net change in forest area can be explained by the combined results of both active afforestation and natural forest expansion. Today, EU forests cover an estimated 160 million hectares, covering more almost 40 per cent of the surface area of the EU.