close-up of hands planting a pine seedling outdoors. Foto: Barbro Wickström

The Forestry Act

The Forestry Act states the demands that society has on you as a forest owner. The law states that the forest is a renewable resource that is to be managed sustainably yielding a good revenue. At the same time you have an obligation to take consideration to nature, cultural heritage, reindeer husbandry and other interests. In addition to the Forestry Act the Swedish Forest Agency is also the authority responsible the enforcement for parts of the Environmental Act.

If you are not sure what demands the Forestry Act has, you are welcome to contact our forest officers in the district where you have your forest holding.


You have an obligation to restock woodland when the increment is not utilized. You are obliged to use established methods and tree species that are suitable for the site. Restocking can be done through planting, seeding or natural regeneration. In most cases you have to perform soil treatment to get a satisfying result. All measures has to be completed during the third year after harvest, at the latest. If the number of plants are too few after having regenerated you have to restock the plants before it is too late. If, on the other hand, there are too many plants you might have to give plants space through a pre-commercial thinning.

Notification of clear felling

When performing a clear felling on sites 0.5 hectares or larger you have to report this to the Swedish Forest Agency. The same applies for felling for other land use than wood production. You are not obliged to report clear felling if you are going to perform a thinning or a pre-commercial thinning.

Felling of woodland

For a felling to be allowed, 

  • promote the site through pre-commercial thinning, thinning or other ways of spacing trees or
  • be expedient with regards to forest restocking through clear felling or continuous cover coupes. 

In some cases you are allowed to use other methods of felling for experimental purposes or to preserve and develop natural and cultural values. 

Stock after a pre-commercial thinning, thinning or other ways of spacing trees has to be large enough to make the most of the sites wood production capacity. The remaining trees are to be evenly distributed across the area. Damage is to be avoided as much as possible.

Clear felling is not allowed until the trees on the site has reached a certain age. For stands that are dominated by conifers, the youngest age varies between 45 and a 100 years of age, depending on the expected production capacity of the site. Beech is to be harvested at an age of 80 years, oak at 90 years of age and birch at 35 years of age. 

On forestry units larger than 50 hectares the harvesting potential is rationed. On forestry units up to a 100 hectares, 50 hectares of the area is allowed to be bare woodland and woodland younger than 20 years. On forestry units larger than 100 hectares half of the area is allowed to be bare woodland or woodland younger than 20 years. For forestry units larger than 1 000 hectares there are additional regulations.

Natural conservation and cultural heritage

Biodiversity in forests has to be preserved. At the same time there has to be considerations to other interests such as cultural heritage and outdoor recreation. It is therefore important to be considerate in all aspects of forest management. 

The most important considerations are:

  • Maintain elements of the species that grow naturally on the site.
  • Whenever harvesting leave brush, solitary trees or in groups as well as dead trees.
  • Do not create large harvest site.
  • Leave unproductive areas larger than 0.1 hectares untouched.
  • Avoid damaging rare and valuable biotopes and cultural heritage sites.
  • Be careful when harvesting is affecting areas with rare plants or animals.
  • Leave protective zones with trees and brush which are needed adjacent to rare biotopes, cultural heritage sites, water, wetland and large bird nests.
  • Do not perform soil treatment in protective zones adjacent to water or wetland.
  • Harvest and forward the timber in such a way as to avoid serious damage to soil and water.
  • Avoid damaging paths, tracks and trails and see to it that they are passable.
  • See to it that any harmful seepage of nutrients or silt into lakes and watercourses does not occur as a result of your forest activity.
  • Construct your logging roads and tractor roads in such a way that you minimize the impact on the environment. 

Societies demand on consideration are not allowed to have a negative impact on land use. Whenever consideration can be designed in several ways you as a forest owner should see to it that rare plants and animals, rare biotopes, old trees, large trees, old dead trees as well as protective zones adjacent to lakes and watercourses should be favoured as much as possible.  

Reindeer husbandry

If you own woodland where reindeer husbandry is allowed you have an obligation to take consideration to this, through adjusting the size and location of the harvesting site when needed. The same goes for when you construct forest roads. Consideration has to be taken by leaving groups of trees on harvest sites and adjacent to low production areas as well as migrations routes. You as a forest owner have to declare the considerations you are planning to take within areas where reindeer husbandry occurs the year round and within mountainous woodland. 

On the year round areas and in the mountainous woodland you have an obligation to give the Sami village in the area opportunity to council before a clear felling or before a felling for the construction of a forest road. However this does not apply for forestry units with less than 500 hectares productive woodland and if the harvested area is smaller than 20 hectares. In mountainous woodland the corresponding harvested area amounts to 10 hectares. If an area of specific importance to reindeer husbandry is affected you should always give the Sami village the opportunity to council.

Mountainous woodland

In mountainous woodland you have to apply for permission to harvest. In the application you state how to secure forest restocking and what kind of consideration you are planning regarding nature, cultural heritage and reindeer husbandry.

Noble broad leaves woodland

Noble broad leaves woodlands are areas with more than a 70 percent coverage of deciduous species and by at least 50 percent coverage of noble broad leaves species. Even stands mixed in with pasture can be regarded as noble broad leaves forests. The noble broad leaves species are beech, oak and six other species. Even woodland with noble broad leaves species demands permission to be able to harvest. In the application you state how the restocking will be secured and what consideration you are planning to take regarding the natural environment and cultural heritage. The harvested trees has to be restocked with noble broad leaves species.

Measures against insects

Insect pests multiply in unbarked fresh timber. Insect damage has to be prevented through having the amount of damaged wood of pine and spruce that exceeds 5 cubic meters total volume over bark per one hectare removed from the site. The regulations are applicable for spruce that has a trunk diameter of more than 10 cm (4 inches) and for pine the part of the tree that has rough bark. Unbarked wood is not allowed to be left in the woods or stored at the roadside over summer. 

Within some parts of Sweden there are enhanced regulations to combat the European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) where at the most 3 cubic meters of spruce per one hectare is allowed to be left in woods.

  • Last Updated: 1/24/2023