Parallels between Canadian and Swedish forest management

Dr. Jonas Rönnberg reflects on the developement

The debate over management is heated in both Canada and Sweden. The Canadian Boreal Forest agreement might be a way to start those negotiations at a more productive level. Several questions arise from this though, e.g. what is the importance for Sweden, what can be learnt and could the Swedish forestry model serve in any significant way?

What is the point in an agreement (the Boreal) that seems to desperately quiet the ENGOs and drastically reduce forest operations on land under FPAC member tenure? Isn’t it so that a healthy dialogue and discussion is needed to develop and push all stakeholders for development? Ceased operations on 29 million ha is not a lot in Canada where forest land covers almost 400 million ha.

The debate over management is heated

In BC, where most of the land is under government tenure in fact the debate over management, or the lack of the same, is heated. From a scientific point of view, in which I should be entitled to speak, the importance is of course sustainable actions. It may be so that the parties have been too far away from each other to actually promote a sound debate and in this case, the boreal agreement will be a way to start those negotiations at a more productive level. Several questions arise from this though, e.g. what is the importance for Sweden, what can be learnt and could the Swedish forestry model serve in any significant way?

Sweden is small compared to Canada

Sweden is small compared to Canada but our forestry is rather resource efficient: we leave too little dead wood in the forests, we could produce more wood fibre and ecosystem services, and we have been going through a sometimes painful certification process. So, from a competitive point of view it is good if they continue to fight in Canada instead of improving the efficacy.

The Swedish welfare serving as a model

On the other hand, in a time when the Swedish forestry sector is, not the least from a political point of view, looking for a chance to get some impact at the global level, to be able to affect essential issues for the Swedish welfare serving as a model could be one such opportunity. With silviculture and hands on forest management, Sweden has experience from over 100 years of successful reforestation campaigns involving the NFI serving accurate figures as a base for efficient forestry.

The bottleneck for further development

The lack of more intensive management tightly associated with set-aside areas with the aim of preserving biodiversity will remain a bottleneck for further development of the Swedish forestry sector. At the same time, the Canadian forestry sector will be suffering from an overestimation of the mid-term production prognosis. The lack of management and monitoring, especially in young stands is another problem continuing to put pressure on their intact natural and planted forests. Harvesting operations and market opportunities must better serve the demands for sustainability. The set aside areas in Sweden would need to increase at the same time as the ones in Canada need to remain.

Scientific facts rather than political idiocy

This can only be done through better involvement of stakeholders and a changed tenure system where Sweden seems to be ages ahead. Alternatively, strong politicians are a necessity with opinions based on scientific facts rather than political idiocy. It might seem utopic that this is going to be the case in the nearby future.

Continuous attacks

Meanwhile, my fear is that we will see continuous attacks on the Swedish forestry model resulting in marginalization of the country as a forest nation and the Canadian timber being logged and transported to China for further refinement.

Text: Assoc. prof. Jonas Rönnberg, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences/SIFI

Photo: John Foxx.

Dr. Jonas Rönnberg Jonas will speak at the conference May 28 about the transformation of the Canadian forest sector and Swedish experiences.

Invitation to the conference May 28 – The transformation of the Canadian forest sector and Swedish experiences

Background documents for the project – The transformation of the Canadian forest sector and Swedish experiences