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NordGen Forest thematic day 6 April 2016

Introduced species in Nordic forestry

The use of introduced tree species in forestry varies widely between the Nordic countries. This is partly a result of history and cultural differences, and partly a result of national requirements. But what role will these tree species play in future forest production and mitigation of climate change?


-Climate change calls for more proactive choices of tree species, Henrik Meilby said in his presentation. Gunnar Friis Proschowsky (t.v.) was chairing the meeting. Photo: Kjersti Bakkebø Fjellstad, NordGen Skog/NIBIO

The Nordic cooperation aims for carbon neutrality within the energy sector by 2015.

- This goal is difficult to reach if one does not include forest biomass to a greater degree, with foreign tree species playing an important part when possible. Increased use of forest trees both for carbon sequestration, as a substitute for products based on fossil raw materials and inputs in food, chemical and energy production provides new opportunities, says Palle Madsen, professor at the Forestry School, University of Copenhagen, who presented results from the Nordic project ENER WOODS in his presentation at the thematic day organised by NordGen Forest in Silkeborg, Denmark on April 6, 2016.

Choice of tree species can increase growth by 50%
ENER WOODS has calculated increased tree growth potential in the Nordic countries at population level within the next 50-100 years. According to these calculations tree species selection alone could pose an increased growth of 25-50%, forest tree breeding could provide 8-50% increase and climate change is estimated to contribute about 30%. However, one must remember that there will be variations in outcome depending on species and locality.

ENER WOODS is a Nordic project funded by the Nordic Energy Research. The purpose of the program is to strengthen Nordic forestry’s role as a contributor to the development of competitive, efficient and renewable energy systems. Madsen concludes in his presentation in Silkeborg that healthy and highly productive forests have great potential to lead our society towards CO2 neutrality and to mitigate climate change. Foreign species should have an important role to play here. - We need forests with high production of good quality timber, Madsen says.

Culture and attitude determine in the Nordic countries
There are major differences in the Nordic countries in the use of foreign tree species, said Tor Myking (Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research) in his speech at the meeting in Silkeborg. - In Iceland, there are few species that can survive because of the climate, and they have no native tree species that are suitable for production. Similarly, Denmark has no available conifers after pine became extinct in the Middle Ages. Therefore, these countries are more willing to use introduced species. At the other end of the scale, Norway is skeptical and Finland directly restrictive. Sweden is still relatively positive and is also the Nordic country with the biggest area planted of introduced species. This particularly applies to contorta pine (Pinus contorta).


The speakers at the thematic day; Tor Myking, Henrik Meilby, Finn Borchsenius, Palle Madsen og Jon Kehlet Hansen, together with the New leader of NordGen Forest, Kjersti Bakkebø Fjellstad. Photo: Gunnar Friis Proschowsky


The thematic day also included an excursion, with focus on North American tree species. These Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) were planted around 1880. Foto: Gunnar Friis Proschowsky


For more information on the outcome of the thematic day in Silkeborg in Norwegian (please press the Swedish flag above).

The presentations from the thematic day can be found  here .

Text: Kjersti Bakkebø Fjellstad, NordGen forest