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Is There Enough Wood in the World to Meet the Sustainability Demand?

The harvesting machine takes just one second to fell the towering spruce, and another to strip the branches and scan its trunk for defects.

“This one is very straight,” operator Antonio Petersson Kvennefelt says of the trunk gripped by the arm of his machine, as a screen in front of him flashes with data.

“The computer decides what it wants the logs to be. This one is for Långasjö, a sawmill in Sweden.”

Kvennefelt has been working in the forests around the city of Växjö in southern Sweden for more than 20 years. When he started out, decisions were mostly left to the forest workers’ judgement, but the industry is now more high-tech.

“The computer makes sure each sawmill gets exactly what that sawmill wants,” he explains.

And across the world, what saw and pulp mills want is more and more wood.

Demand for Wood 

According to the latest figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global forest production hit record levels in 2018. Up 11% on the year before.

“We see an increasing demand for almost all of our products,” says Göran Örlander, strategist at Södra, Sweden’s largest association of forest owners. “The most obvious demand is for biofuels at the moment. Everybody wants to have biofuels to replace fossil fuels.”

The idea is that burning wood becomes close to carbon neutral if the forests from where it is taken are replenished at the same rate as they are felled for fuel. Read more…