Precommercial thinning in forest.

Continued high level of silvicultural activities

Nyhet | Statistik - 16 September 2021

Silvicultural activities were at a continued high level 2020, according to the Swedish Forest Agency’s survey results.

Silvicultural activities were carried out on 963 000 hectares during 2020. This includes scarification, precommercial thinning, artificial regeneration and fertilization. Precommercial thinning was the most common activity with 497 000 hectares. Precommercial thinning has increased during the 21st century and is now twice as high as it was at the end of the 1990s.

Artificial regeneration, which includes planting and sowing, was a little over 218 000 hectares in 2020. Of this, planting accounted for around 202 000 hectares. The activity has increased in recent years compared with the 1990s when artificial regeneration averaged around 144 000 hectares annually. That can in turn be compared with the first estimations from the period of 1955-1959 which had an average of 95 000 hectares of artificial regeneration per year.

Scarification was done on almost 206 000 hectares and 42 000 hectares of forest land was fertilized during 2020.

Silvicultural activities by region

In all four regions precommercial thinning was the most common silvicultural activity during 2020. In Götaland 202 000 hectares were thinned. In Svealand and Southern Norrland, 102 000 hectares and 110 000 hectares were thinned respectively. The least amount of precommercial thinning was in Northern Norrland with 82 000 hectares.

The highest area of scarification was in Northern Norrland, 58 000 hectares, while the lowest was in Svealand with 47 000 hectares. Planting areas was largest in Götaland, 56 000 hectares, while it was 41 000 hectares in Northern Norrland.

Less common with forest management plan among individual owners

A current forest management plan is less common among individual owners than for other owners. Other owners refer to the public owners and private-sector companies/corporations and other private ownership. During 2020, 68 percent of the individual owners had a forest management plan. For other owners it was 97 percent. In total 82 percent of the forest land had a forest management plan.

There is a marginal increase of the estimated area with forest management plan between 2019 and 2020 but taking into account the statistical margin of error there is no significant increase between the years.

New statistics about non-clearcut forestry

For the first time the Swedish Forest Agency has measured the non-clearcut forestry among all forest owners. Non-clearcut forestry is defined in the survey as forestry managed so that there is a continues tree cover without any larger patches of clearcuts.

The result shows that there were 644 000 hectares non-clearcut forestry during 2020. The estimate has a margin of error (95% confidence interval, described below) from 534 000 hectares to 754 000 hectares. The area does not include forests that are improductive, voluntary set-asides or protected. The Swedish Forest Agency will continue to collect data about the non-clearcut forestry annually. Since the statistic is collected for the first time it is possible that there will be changes in coming years in survey design, definition of concepts and more, to further clarify what is meant with non-clearcut forestry. 

Explanations about the statistics

The statistics on silvicultural activities from the Swedish Forest Agency is based on two surveys. One random sample survey to small-scale forestry (owners of less than 5 000 hectares of forest land) and a total population survey of large-scale forestry (owning more than 5 000 hectares). The survey to the large-scale forestry has a few more questions which is why for example the Pinus contorta regeneration is only known for this group. A current forest management plan refers to that is less than 10 years old.

All estimates presented here have a statistical margin of error. The interval formed by the estimate and the margin of error is a 95% confidence interval. This means that if one were to repeat the survey, it would in 19 cases out of 20 cover the true (but unknown) value. The size of the interval depends on the number of observations in the sample and how widespread the variable is. The margins of error are usually not written in text but are available in the Swedish Forest Agency's statistics database and the Statistiska meddelanden together with the estimates. It has been included in the text above about clear-cutting forestry as this is the first time such an estimate has been calculated and it means increased uncertainty.

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