In Sweden, as in Finland, discussions are under way on future strategy for international promotion of wood. What has up until now been the responsibility of the Nordic Timber Council will be taken over in Sweden by the Swedish Forest Industries Federation – Skogsindustrierna – from January 1.

In order to facilitate this, the federation’s wood promotion unit will be strengthened by extra staff, including Jan Söderlind, currently managing director of the Nordic Timber Council, who will join on November 1 to take responsibility for international projects. The Swedish investment in wood promotion, both internationally and on the Swedish market, will be financed jointly by Swedish sawmills and timber suppliers.

At present there is dialogue with working partners in the UK, France and the rest of Europe. It is anticipated that the Skogsindustrierna will set out a structure and projects to be implemented this autumn. However, it is already clear that certain markets and projects will be given priority.

High priority will be given to co-operation with the UK timber industry and other parties in Wood for Good since the UK is Sweden’s largest wood export market. Other key markets will be France, through “Le bois c’est essential”, and Asia through the European Wood Initiative, which is a co-operation between six European countries to work on standards and to open the Chinese market to European wood. Also to be given priority will be “Building with wood”, a European project that aims to achieve simple and uniform standards for wood construction systems in Europe.

It is a boom time for the Swedish forest industry: there is even some concern that the market may overheat next year if demand continues to grow at the current rate. The market is continually strengthening and the order stock of sawmills is good. Reduced production in Finland and the redirection of Russian exports from Europe to China have contributed.

There is also a hive of activity in the industry. In the south of Sweden alone, 150 million young trees will be planted before midsummer on 70,000 storm-hit hectares of forest. This is the largest number of trees ever planted.


Major investments are also being made in sawmills to cope with the increased demand. For example, the Setra Group is to invest SKr40m in the Kastet sawmill in Gävle this year to improve efficiency. This is expected to boost profitability by approximately SKr15m per year. Möckeln’s sawmill at Älmhult is investing SKr35m in a new planing mill and Martinson is spending a further SKr28m on two new drying sheds, a new heating boiler and a central heating network, over and above the SKr190m already invested in a new sawing line at the sawmill in Bygdsiljum.

Bergkvist-Insjön has recently concluded a SKr280m investment programme with the installation of a new sawing line for its sawmill at Insjön. In conjunction, the drying capacity has been adapted and older dryers removed, a new timber intake has been built which also serves the old sawing line, while the trimmer and boiler have been upgraded.

Södra Timber is also planning to make major investments in its sawmills. The largest will be made in Mönsterås, which will increase its annual production to 450,000m3 and within a few years will be one of the largest sawmills in Europe. Furthermore, VIDA AB is to increase its existing sawmill production from 1.03 million m3 to approximately 1.4 million m3 within a three-year period to meet strong demand. This increase in production will involve a number of new investments in its sawmill plants totalling SKr300m and will include approximately SKr90m in a new planing line at Vislanda. The line will have a two-shift capacity of 350,000m3 or 900 running metres per minute and will be the fastest in Europe.

Vida is also to invest around SKr200-250m in its own energy production with a combined heating, power and pellets plant.

Biofuel production

The production of biofuel from forest products is a subject of much discussion. Göran Olsson, a regional manager with Mellanskog, believes that forestry is more acceptable from an environmental point of view when forest products are also used to provide environmentally-friendly energy. He points out that this improves the economy in forestry and reduces dependence on fossil fuels.

Prime minister Göran Persson has spoken in favour of renewable energy from domestic sources. He chaired the Commission on Oil Independence which published its report in June. It recommends an increase in forest growth in the long term by 15-20% in order to increase the availability of biofuels and thereby reduce the consumption of oil products used for transport. This increase would be achieved by more efficient forest management in the form of clearing, thinning out, refined plant material, ditch clearing and fertilisation, as well as through intensive cultivation of spruce and broadleaf trees on a few per cent of the acreage.

Skogsindustrierna managing director Marie Arwidsson said the federation shared the view that it was important to break Sweden’s dependence on oil, but added: “In order to meet the need for energy from the forest, the forest industry must have the right prerequisites. This applies to both measures to increase growth in the forest and guarantees of a long-term reliable supply of electricity.”

She also pointed out that raw material must be used where it produces the greatest benefit for Sweden and that the value of wood processed in the timber and paper industries is many times higher than if it is used as biofuel.