Sweden is one of the most forested countries in the world. 70% of the country’s surface is covered by forests, of which 22.5 million hectares are productive forest land. Swedish forests are fantastic. They give us fresh air, clean water and reduce CO₂ emissions. Forests provide benefits when they are growing, as well as when they are used.
The ongoing climate change is largely due to CO₂ emissions. However, using wood can help to reduce CO₂ in the atmosphere. This is because growing forest has a unique ability to absorb CO₂ from the atmosphere and release oxygen via photosynthesis. The leaves or needles of the plants contain a green substance called chlorophyll – which is why they are green – and this is where photosynthesis takes place. The trees absorb solar energy, water and CO₂, and use them to produce carbohydrates using energy from sunlight. These carbohydrates provide the energy and building blocks that trees need for growth. Trees therefore capture and store CO₂ in the form of carbon. The more forests grow, the more carbon they store. This process also releases oxygen, giving us fresh air to breathe.
When we use products made from wood we are helping to realize a number of benefits. That is because trees also bind CO₂ after they are harvested. If the trees are not used, but left to die and decompose, they release their stored carbon to the atmosphere in the form of CO₂. But by processing the trees and using the wood, their stored carbon is preserved.
Many people are worried that forests will die out. But that is a common misunderstanding. About 90 million forest cubic meters are harvested annually in Sweden, but new growth amounts to approximately 120 million forest cubic meters. Forests are therefore growing faster than they are harvested, and forestry stocks are increasing in Sweden every year. These stocks have been rising since the early 20th century, when a reforestation requirement was introduced in Sweden’s first Forestry Act. For every tree harvested in Sweden, at least two new, if not more, are planted. Forestry stocks have doubled in less than 100 years, making Swedish forests a sustainable and renewable resource.
Source: Svenskt Trä