IRENA (2019), Bioenergy from boreal forests: Swedish approach to sustainable wood use, International Renewable Energy Agency, Abu Dhabi.
Bioenergy from boreal forests: Swedish approach to sustainable wood use
Active forest management has helped to expand Sweden’s forested areas and thereby boost the country’s wood and bioenergy resource base. While about three-quarters of annual growth is harvested, those areas are replanted. The other quarter of each year’s growth is left in place to provide ongoing carbon uptake and maintain ecological stability. Swedish experience offers valuable lessons for emerging markets.
Wood is typically harvested around every sixty to one hundred years, allowing for faster-growing new trees to be planted, increasing forest mass. In this manner, the capacity of Swedish forests to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and provide wood for energy and other uses has doubled over the last century. Actively managed and monitored forests are also more resistant to forest fires and infestations, reducing the risk of massive CO2 release from such catastrophes.
Among other findings:
- Sustainable wood use from Swedish logging could rise seven-fold through collecting 70% of slash and 30% of stumps.
- Wood growth in Swedish forests each year is twice what it was a century ago – on about the same land area.
- Every tonne of wood used in Swedish buildings avoids nearly three tonnes of CO2 emissions.