Forests are our most important natural resource, but expectations for what they can contribute are now higher than ever. To achieve environmental objectives, the forest carbon sink must be secured, and preferably increased, through the continuous growth of timber reserves and carbon stocks. But to be able to decrease our climate-destructive dependence on fossil fuels, we also need more renewable resources, meaning that all forest regrowth would have to be harvested and not saved in the forest to build up timber reserves.
Forests are also unique habitats for many animals and plants and preserving rich biodiversity requires explicit consideration in forestry. Forests additionally offer invaluable opportunities for outdoor life and recreation that more people than ever want to take part in, which also creates expectations on how forests should be cultivated.
When expectations become incompatible and requirements collide with each other, it is easy to become bogged down in discussions. That is exactly why it is high time to find solutions to each of the challenges linked to forests.
WFF – The World Forest Forum
The WFF was founded in the summer of 2020 as an independent foundation to make things happen. Our approach is based in respect for property rights and a strong belief that solutions with a focus on innovation, new business models and forward-thinking policy measures can contribute to more varied forestry that creates added value for both forest owners and local communities.
Forestry of the future
The forestry of the future must be further developed. One important driver is that it should be worth it to manage forests in different ways with various goals. There are business opportunities to be found in every challenge. From the perspective of landowners, forestry can contribute to richer biodiversity, a guaranteed carbon sink and an increased timber harvest.
Making it happen
To make this happen, we need new solutions for preserving and developing the abundance of nature: alternatives that highlight and value the climate benefits of forests, alternatives that sustainably increase the growth of forests to meet growing future demands for renewable and recyclable forest products, and alternatives that underscore and appreciate the aesthetic value of forests as a base for recreation and tourism.
Talking about forests
We should talk about the forest in the forest. With the support of research and practical experience, these conversations can lead to the necessary development of active forest cultivation to meet the myriad of future expectations.
The people who sign this document share WFF’s view of the development potential of all forest values and that a key path to the successful development of sustainable forestry is to start small, produce concrete examples of solutions and then test them for scalability.
Our focus is climate change. How can we give businesses and consumers opportunities to take practical action to climate impact with the aid of Swedish forests? What we are looking for is the answer to that question.
What we are not saying
Naturally, we are not saying that other climate actions are unimportant. By any means. Everything counts, and we need to tackle the issue from both sides simultaneously – reducing emissions and increasing carbon sequestration. We believe that all positive forces have to work together and we have to do the right things. The right thing here is to create the optimal conditions for our forests and forestry raw materials to help us solve one of humanity’s greatest challenges.
Swedish forests are our greatest asset for sequestering carbon dioxide and actively combating global heating. Forests do this at all stages and in all directions. From the growing sapling to the renewable forestry raw materials that replace unsustainable materials.
Absorb massive amounts of CO2
Swedish forests absorb massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere through their growth. A significant amount of this growth is harvested and contributes to the sustainable consumption of renewable forestry products. As felling does not exceed growth, some of the CO2 is sequestered in the growing forest.
The growing timber stock in the forest thus contributes to the removal of approximately 35 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year. This means that a significant share of Sweden’s total net emissions from other sectors in society is offset by its sequestration in the forest’s growing timber stock.
Felled forests also provide huge climate benefit. When used as raw materials, they can replace unsustainable materials that have serious climate impact – during production and during the product lifecycle as well as afterwards when the material must be dealt with, reused or repurposed. Using raw materials wisely is just as important to achieving optimal climate benefit as ensuring the carbon sink and increasing the supply of renewable raw materials.
The growing forest
For this reason, the growing forest and renewable wood materials are a strategic resource for our entire society and for Swedish and global climate efforts. No other single action or resource comes close to the importance of forests in helping Sweden to become carbon neutral within the near future.
If we can increase forest growth
If we can increase forest growth wisely, we can increase the supply of renewable forest materials. At the same time, we can continue offsetting carbon emissions from other sectors in society. This would improve Sweden’s potential to become the first fossil-free welfare nation and achieve net zero carbon emissions.
We want to make things happen, and concrete examples are vital. The following projects, aimed at developing sustainable and climate-smart products and services while identifying new business opportunities for forest owners and companies, have been initiated by the World Forest Forum:
Placing high value on nature is a business opportunity. How can we create sustainable business models aimed at securing and developing rich biodiversity in cultivated forests? The possibilities for market-based alternatives that can complement formal protection are being explored through the partnership of research and entrepreneurship.
CO2 emitters should be able to pay CO2 capturers. We are launching a collaborative agreement with Carbon Capture Company who offer climate compensation with the assistance of Swedish forest owners. Forest owners who commit to ensuring a carbon sink in their forest contribute to mitigating carbon emissions from other sectors in society. That benefit to the climate is demonstrated and priced by Carbon Capture Company AB.
Further development of a small-scale, flexible drone-based system for the precision spreading of forest fertilizer.
New technology minimizes the risk of negative environmental impacts and enables both targeted fertilization of individual trees or seedlings and more traditional broadcast fertilization. This is being developed in cooperation with Skogstekniska klustret and Nordluft AB.
Planting new forests
Planting new forests on surplus land that is no longer being actively used for its original purpose, such as abandoned arable land, creates new carbon sinks. In cooperation with Absorb AB, we are looking for landowners who are interested in planting new forests so that we can offer private citizens a way to participate in climate compensation with the help of new Swedish forests.
Many beautiful places are hidden treasures in nature. With digital technology, entirely new solutions for guided tours in forests can be developed. The aim is to make forests more accessible to consumers while identifying business opportunities for forest owners and companies that offer experience tourism. This is a start-up project in which a prototype will be developed in partnership with Granö Beckasin.