The responsible use of forests is a hot topic due to, for example, deforestation concerns. For Stora Enso, sustainable forestry and ensuring the regeneration of forests are not just a trendy topic – our entire business depends on them.
Stora Enso's wood procurement process covers the entire forest management cycle and does not stop at harvesting. We regenerate forests by planting or seeding, followed by monitoring to ensure that forests do actually grow back after harvesting. In managed, semi-natural forests, like the forests we source wood from in Finland and Sweden, planting and seeding is always complemented by natural seed dispersal from nearby forests.
From planning to planting
As trees take many years or decades to mature, long-term forestry planning is essential. Such planning involves ecological landscape plans and biodiversity assessments to identify, conserve, and restore vital ecosystems.
Each forest site also has its particular characteristics. Soils, terrain, and vegetation, for example, varies from site to site and different tree species have various requirements that need to be taken into consideration. What works for spruce seedlings, does not necessarily help birch seedlings grow. Forest regeneration is not rocket science but detailed planning is essential because it ensures the vitality and quality of the growing seedlings; necessary action if seedlings are to cope with, for example, the extreme winter weather experienced in Finland and Sweden.
If natural regeneration is uncertain, it is better to plant or sow. When the year's best planting time arrives, millions and millions of seedlings are placed in the soil. In the Nordic countries, spring and early summer are the busiest planting times. To give an idea of the scale, around 150 million seedlings are planted in Finland each year. In general, three or four seedlings are planted for every tree harvested in Finland.
Wood is our most important raw material and we must ensure that trees are regenerated after harvesting. Regeneration of forests and tree plantations is often done through active planting or sowing.
Ensuring the sustainability of our fibre
Forest laws in Scandinavia require that forests are regenerated after harvesting, but compliance with national legislation and regulatory obligations is only the starting point for Stora Enso. For example, we actively use and promote forest certification systems which verify that forests are managed sustainably. In 2017, 92% of all the land we own or manage was covered by forest certification schemes. The share of certified wood in our wood supply was 85%. In total, 100% of all the wood we use came from sustainable sources where forests are regenerated.
We also offer sustainable forest management services to private forest owners to help them ensure that their forests are renewed. Active forest management, like the service we offer, has increased the annual forest growth rate in Finland. Today, the annual tree growth in Finland exceeds the volume of harvesting and natural loss by over 20 million cubic metres or by more than 15%.
At the plantations owned or leased by Stora Enso, we of course plant as standard procedure. At our joint operation Veracel in Brazil, about 75 000 hectares of land are used for planting eucalyptus trees. But over 100 000 hectares, about half of Veracel's 213 500 hectares of land, are dedicated to active preservation and regenerating Atlantic rainforest which was cleared for cattle pasture between the 1950s and 1980s.
Ecological corridors connect isolated areas of rainforest to each other and help animals and plants spread more freely.
Sustainable forest management safeguards forest health and productivity, helps combat global warming, protects biodiversity – and ensures that forests are always regenerated. Trees are Stora Enso's main raw material and we must secure their long-term availability.