We are committed to enhancing biodiversity

As part of our sustainability ambition, Stora Enso is committed to achieving a net-positive impact on biodiversity in our own forests and plantations by 2050 through active biodiversity management.

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Biodiversity and our goal for net positive impact

Sustainable forest management safeguards forest health, and protects biodiversity, while providing our customers with renewable resources that can substitute fossil-based materials and help mitigate climate change.

At Stora Enso, we are determined to place biodiversity at the top of the forest management agenda. We want to become industry leaders in biodiversity, and this mindset leads how we manage our forests. We use our own forest in Sweden as a development platform for enhancing biodiversity. Our work will be supported by a science-based programme for monitoring and continuous research and development.

Working towards our net positive goal, we have:

  • developed and initiated a set of actions to be achieved by 2030 to improve biodiversity on species, habitat and landscape levels in our own forests and with private forest owners.
  • begun work within and beyond the forest sector to improve biodiversity, through knowledge-sharing and active participation in formulating new policies and standards.

Biodiversity must be adaptively managed and monitored on landscape, habitat and species levels to ensure a holistic approach due to biodiversity’s inherent complexity. We work to promote biodiversity in everyday forest management on three spatial scales:

  • Species level to improve and create habitats with adaptive forest management, such as controlled burning
  • Habitat level to identify and increase important elements for forest biodiversity, like deadwood, deciduous trees, valuable habitats
  • Landscape level to identify areas for active forest management, set aside areas and adapted forest management

Plantation biodiversity management practices

We work in the forest and on plantations to improve and create habitats suitable for specific species to thrive. An umbrella species is an animal or plant that lives in an area with many other endangered species. Specifically working to protect umbrella species benefits hundreds of other red-listed species in the area.

Activities on umbrella species benefit hundreds of red-listed species

Biodiversity as a subject isn’t new, so our intent is to enrich the forests we own with greater biodiversity. We are utilizing the latest science, empirical knowledge and data for stepping up: to not only reduce harm, but to restore and regenerate forest biodiversity. We want to create biodiversity gain.

We’re raising our level of ambition: the goal is to enhance biodiversity and create a net-positive impact in our own forests and plantations by 2050. We want the rare or endangered species that are already there to become more abundant. We want all species to exist in viable populations. We use adaptive forest management to support species in a variety of habitats.

A great example of successful work with an important umbrella species is the white-backed woodpecker in Sweden. We have worked intensively to create habitats that help the woodpecker’s food chain to thrive, so we have seen the return of this rare bird. Without these actions, we might have lost these birds for good. And by developing the habitats where it thrives, we benefit over 200 other red listed species such as lichens, insects, and even several other bird species.

In the Montes del Plata plantation in Uruguay, a programme is in place where species are bred and reintroduced into the area.In Brazil, at our joint operation with Veracel, a jaguar has been seen in the area, indicating that the work to protect the biodiversity of the region is beginning to pay off.

Identifying and improving valuable habitats helps restore forest biodiversity

Creating the right kind of habitats in the forests helps different species thrive and enhances biodiversity. We work to identify and increase elements important for valuable habitats. This means for example preserving and creating deadwood in forests, increasing amount of deciduous trees and preserving prioritised habitats.

Deadwood, for example, provides habitat for hundreds of forest species. As many as 19 percent of endangered forest species are dependent on dead wood, but not without having the right kind of deadwood in a forest. Dead wood is especially important for a variety of weasels, lichens and beetles, among others, but it also provides a home for many bird species. For example, many woodpeckers make their nests in decaying trees.

How the deadwood is distributed across a landscape is important since different species have different demands on the environment surrounding the wood. For instance, deadwood from spruce in a shady environment will harbour very different species than deadwood from aspen on a sun-exposed site. When it comes to habitats, we monitor soil moisture and nutrients, light penetration and the structures in each habitat.

After final fellings, there are openings in the forests for species that thrive in direct sunlight. In harvested areas, raspberry pickers will find berries a few years after a felling. But leaving as well as actively creating high stumps (between 2-4 meters high) enhances biodiversity when standing deadwood is exposed to sunlight for a long time. As its bark loosens and the high stump rots, various species of insects follow each other in inhabiting the high stumps.

Retention trees and high stumps left on the otherwise open, clear space in the middle of a forest might look rough, but these areas are teeming with life that’s vital for forests. Retention trees provide an opportunity for birds to rest as well as help to increase age variation of the forests. They stand as the new forest starts to grow, and as generation by generation of new forest grows, retention trees reach over 200 years maintaining old growth in forests as well.

On our plantations, we work with the protection and restoration of habitats around the areas where we grow our trees. Approximately half of the land on the plantations we work with is used for protection and restoration of habitats.

Since June 2020, we increase the amount of decaying wood on harvestings sites to safeguard biodiversity. More dead wood will be left in the harvesting areas than before, and additional artificial snags are made from standing trees to promote forest biodiversity. Stora Enso supports private forest owners to make decisions that increase the amount of decaying wood in forests.

Stora Enso makes artificial snags in all loggings throughout the forest rotation period. After cutting the treetop, the snag is left on the ground untouched, which also increases the dead wood on the ground.

Other measures to promote forest diversity include controlled burning, water protection zones and dense forest areas for game.

Biodiversity actions across forest landscapes

At Stora Enso, we have 12 ecological landscapes in Sweden alone that cover 1.4 million hectares. This gives us the opportunity to manage entire landscapes and not just one forest stand or specific sites:maintaining variety in the landscape, which encompasses different smaller habitats, preserves nature’s values.

Landscapes vary and can include tall growth forest with large trees and shade, dense thickets of scrubs and bushes, clear areas with sunshine, lakeshores, rivers and small rocky streams – and everything in between. On habitat level, we must identify and increase elements that are important for our forests – in addition to tree structures, find opportunities to restore water streams and utilize structures like stones. . We are working with greater precision in our planning and management around harvesting to mitigate any potential harm and to increase biodiversity.

We work for example to restore waterways to their original state: dead tree logs provide nutrients and boulders of rocks provide new spaces for small ecosystems for life to thrive. Watercourses and wetlands are often rich in biodiversity since many species depend on water for different life stages. Water actions on a landscape level have to do with connectivity: not just of water flowing from streams to lakes to rivers and ultimately to the sea, but of enabling life to thrive in the flowing, swimming and twirling water at faster and slower speeds. The water must also connect directly to the land – back to the forest and the species at the streams’ sides.

Restored water landscape creates small habitats for spawning, as demonstrated by our programme for little baby brown trout that helped the species become abundant. Over the coming years, we’ll follow the generation of trout as they swim out into the sea and back up again to spawn in gravel spots we’ve made for them. With patience and methodological follow-up, we can make sure we’ve been able to create a biotope that matches the requirements of this traveling fish.

Today, at the landscape level, we work with active forest management, set aside areas and adapted forest management.

On our plantations, we work particularly with land-use planning and plantation design to find the best areas for protection and use the degraded areas for growing.

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