Some people and organizations argue that old forests are more sustainable than new ones, no matter how responsible the forestry and harvesting. That any company who uses wood for its products is causing a major negative impact on our climate – when it comes to reduction of carbon emissions and the biodiversity of our forests. But it’s not a black and white question. As a matter of fact, there are several upsides to harvesting and managing forests to get a hold of the remarkable, renewable raw material called wood.
Stora Enso is committed to the development of products and technologies based on renewable materials. Our products, in many cases, provide a low-carbon alternative to products made from fossil-based or other non-renewable materials. Replacing such materials is referred to as substitution, and it’s a lasting solution. In our forestry we combine the best of two worlds. We set-aside forests with high natural values that will also keep the carbon stored, and we use the net growth of the production forest to deliver wood that can be converted to wood based products. Net growth means that we harvest less then our forest grow and therefore go plus in standing volume and binding.
The fact that we only use the net growth and use this material for products that substitute products with higher carbon footprint makes our operation climate positive. Responsible forestry that provides the best possible circumstances for healthy forests that store carbon and support biodiversity, is a major priority.
The scientific evidence and the total impact
There are quite a few scientific studies on the role of forests and wooden products in the fight against climate change. Recently the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) published an article describing Stora Enso’s overall carbon footprint. Proving that our operation is climate positive.
We had an interesting chat with Maria Saxe, Head of sustainability at Stora Enso Wood Supply, Sweden, about the company’s total climate impact, biodiversity, and forestry.
– Stora Enso is estimated to have a positive impact on the climate equivalent to a reduction of 11,5 million tonnes of CO2e from the atmosphere. But having a positive climate impact is not just about reducing emissions. The substitution effect and the fact that we only use the net growth play significant roles.
Long-term and diverse positive effects
– As a company, we strive to be the global leader in responsible forestry. By favouring rare plants and animals, rare biotopes, old trees, large trees, old dead trees, and different protective zones. Spreading knowledge, like the long-term mindset you need to apply when evaluating the positive effects of prioritizing biodiversity and healthy forests, is an important part of that. The effects of the retention forestry i.e. forestry with environmental consideration, which started in around 1995, are just starting to show.
– There are also other interests that need to be considered. Our forests have social and cultural functions as well. Outdoor recreation is one important factor and research show that people prefer spending time for recreation and exercise in carefully managed forests – i.e. social forests – rather than in unmanaged, “savage” forests. Plus, the roads established to manage forests, increase the accessibility greatly.
– Deciduous species are rarely planted in Stora Enso’s forests, they emerge by themselves, but we are actively making room for these valuable trees and create an environment where they thrive. Deciduous trees are important from a biodiversity point of view, since they host certain birds, insects and vegetation.
The bigger sustainability picture
– Our responsible forestry leads to increased volumes – more trees that help store more carbon. But even if responsible forestry is a major priority for Stora Enso, our main objective is to harvest the forest and provide products that are fossil free and renewable. We are producers – The renewable materials company – and we work hard to achieve a positive total climate impact.
- The Swedish forest industries’ website provides information and scientific evidence that Nordic forest management is sustainable:
- This is the Stora Enso web article that we refer and link to in the beginning of this article:
In 2021, the Multicopy production base in Nymölla mill took a step further in the fossil free journey, with Stora Enso entering a partnership with energy company Gasum. We had a talk with Erik Woode, Director, Project Development & Execution, at Gasum, to get a status update after one year of turning residue water from production into fossil free fuel.
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