Fungi and leaves

Restoring forest environments on land and in water

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Ecosystems and related species all over the world are threatened, as habitats on land and in water degrade due to climate change and human influence. However, as the World Environment Day on 5 June, 2024 reminds us, we can still take action to restore valuable habitats to their original state, mitigate climate change, and halt land degradation. The time to act is now.

Stora Enso produces renewable, wood-based products that store carbon and replace non-renewable materials. We know the origin of the wood we use, and for us sustainable forestry is about managing wood production and protecting nature values side by side. At first glance, forestry and restoration can seem to be at odds, but active restorations are one of the ways we can keep forests healthy by enhancing their nature values. Restorations are part of our biodiversity programmes that cover our own and supplier forests.

Take a look at some of our forest restoration initiatives on land and in water.

Wetland restorations in Finland and Sweden

Stora Enso is restoring wetlands both in Finland and Sweden. Wetlands are areas with high water levels, and as such they make up some of the most vibrant and abundant habitats for various species. Restoring them will improve the conditions for these species, and in the long run, wetlands will turn into significant carbon sinks. In Finland, Stora Enso has the ambition to restore 1,000 hectares of peatland together with Tornator. Currently, 600 hectares of peatlands are in different stages of restoration.

In Sweden, we restore wetlands on our own forest land. We started to identify potential restoration sites digitally in 2023. The evaluation of these sites continues in 2024, but we have already started to rewet sites that have the most value for restoration. In 2024, we will rewet at least three wetlands. Some of this work will be done together with the Swedish Forest Agency.

Wetland in Sweden

Restoration of sunny slope habitats in Finland

Sunny slope environment

In Finland, Stora Enso has a target to make over 200 Metso protection initiatives as well as identify 24 groves or sunny slope habitats for restoration annually. In 2024, Stora Enso will restore sunny slope environments in the Huuhanranta area of Ruokolahti in Finland together with Tornator. This will improve the conditions for species that thrive in these areas. Sunny slope is an area that is exposed to sunlight and consequently creates a particular kind of habitat. The main threat to species in these habitats is when the tree cover grows too dense. Our restoration actions are targeted in areas that have been unmanaged for a long time and where the living conditions for species have degraded, for example due to shading tree cover.

The restoration measures include thinning, small-scale clearcutting, and collecting logging residues as well as controlled burning to increase burned environments that are typical for sunlit areas. Stora Enso implemented the felling in 2023, and the controlled burning will take place in summer 2024. Annual 20% increase in controlled burnings is also a current target on Stora Enso’s own forest land to promote needed burned habitats for various species.

Photo: Tornator Oyj

Restoring forest streams in Finland

Forest streams are a unique and important habitat for freshwater species, especially as the climate becomes warmer and summer heatwaves become more common. For example, endangered migratory fish, such as trout, thrive in cooler waters. In 2022, Stora Enso, Tornator, and WWF Finland started a three-year cooperation to restore freshwater habitats around Finland.

The actions include, for instance, building spawning grounds and removing unnecessary barriers or culverts that are harmful for migratory fish. As a result of the cooperation, dried-up riverbeds are restored to flowing streams. Since the start of the collaboration, the partners have built over 40 spawning grounds and restored hundreds of meters of riverbeds. The third period in the partnership is now starting, with more restoration work to be expected during summertime 2024.

Forest stream restoration in Finland

Restoring water landscapes in Sweden

Forest stream and rocks

Water landscapes are large areas that are characterized by diverse water environments, such as lakes and streams. In these areas, we restore the waters and consider the buffer zones surrounding them, which will benefit the species that depend on water or its immediate surroundings. Actions include, for instance, putting back large rocks that are important for the flow of forest streams as well as refilling streams with gravel that is important for fish and other species.

On our own forest land in Sweden, our target is to restore identified water landscapes. Currently, we have selected and made plans for water landscapes in Skårjån and Pajsoån, and restoration measures are on-going in Skärjån, Gävleborg. The goal is to select a new water landscape in 2024.