Midsummer Spotlight: The Sustainable forests of Norway, Sweden, and Finland
22 June 2022 Blog
Summer has come to the northern hemisphere, and with it all of the summer celebrations that we enjoy. In countries like Norway, Sweden and Finland, midsummer celebrations are held in late June, on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It is an important national holiday, and a celebration with nature at its heart.
The countries of northern Europe have long had a deep connection to nature and the outdoors. There we find some of the most forested landscapes in the world.
Whether it’s traditional farming or forestry, these cultures have often led the way in innovation.
Nordic brands are also known for sustainability, particularly in the furniture industry. This could well be because no one knows better that a forest can be depleted than those who have grown up among them.
As some of the founding nations of PEFC, we share a Nordic vision of sustainably managing the forest resources of our planet, and the generations that inherit it after us.
A Tradition Sustainable Forestry
Norway, Sweden, and Finland are home to roughly 61 million hectares of forest. Sweden provides ten percent of the sawn timber, pulp, and paper that is shipped globally. But it should come as no surprise that a vast resource can be vulnerable to overexploitation.
The danger first became clear in the 19th century, when industrial sawmills and an increasing demand for wood, tar and pulp started to put more pressure on Nordic forests. In Finland, the need to act was apparent, leading to the “Forest Act” enacted in 1886 to keep forests from being over-harvested.
Meanwhile, Sweden put their own “Forestry Act” into place in 1903, spurred by a drastic thinning of Swedish forests. One of the things that this law required was the replanting of trees, something that remains within sustainable forestry even today.
Protecting these forests was about more than just preserving a valuable economic resource. Nordic forests have a cultural importance that can’t be overvalued, and are essential to both traditional recreational activities and the tourism industry. Lawmakers in these countries recognized this importance decades before forests would come to be appreciated as a global buffer against climate change.
Continuing that Tradition, with PEFC
Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark make up a third of PEFC’s founding members. Our approach to sustainability today, one with centres both the forest and the forester, is in keeping with traditions that go back for generations in these countries.
That’s why PEFC works on the ground with foresters, especially smallholders, helping them band together to access certification and harvest their forests more sustainably. Today, PEFC’s Nordic members are world leaders on sustainability in action.
Together they collaborate to share knowledge and help ensure that PEFC’s certification standards can be applied to diverse forest ecologies and national economies.
PEFC’s Sustainable Forest Management and Chain of Custody certification are the core of this approach. They ensure that sustainability claims are accurate and verifiable, and that no illegally harvested or otherwise unregulated timber enters the supply chain.
For a product like furniture, this is especially important. As consumers walk the showroom floor selecting their next bookshelf or dining table, they know that the PEFC label means that the wood-based materials they are looking at were harvested sustainably, and contribute to protecting forests. This is as true in the Nordic countries as it is anywhere else in the world.
Gone are the days when Danes or Swedes would crown themselves in garlands of flowers to ensure a healthy and substantial harvest that year. The way we use forests has changed, and the way we celebrate them has, as well. But with rigorous systems in place, like the ones that PEFC provides, we won’t need luck or good fortune to ensure a sustainable forest harvest. They give us a way to live with forests, and benefit from all they provide, while we nurture and protect them. We can’t think of any better reason to celebrate this midsummer.