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Gender equality in the forest

Gender equality applies to all areas of life and, of course, also to those who, own or work with forests. And to be able to analyse the state of gender equality and to be able to fix any problems one need statistics.

Like other government agencies, we at the Swedish Forest Agency must integrate a gender equality perspective into our operations. When it comes to individual-based statistics, it is particularly important that we present and analyse them with gender as the overall basis for classification, unless there are special reasons for not doing so.

In addition to publishing gender-disaggregated statistics in the official statistical products for which we are responsible, we will now collect gender-disaggregated statistics here/on a special page on the external web.

We will use our own internal surveys and registers, but we will also look for interesting statistics from other authorities and organisations.

It is more common for men to own, study and work with forests compared to women. There are more men who sit on the boards of the largest forest-owning companies and work as managers in forestry. Men are also more likely to be involved in occupational accidents that lead to fatalities in forestry.

Men own more forest than women do

In Sweden, approximately 52 percent of the declared productive forest land area is owned by legal entities, such as limited liability companies or associations. Natural/physical persons own the remaining 48 percent.

The land can be owned by only women and by only men or be co-owned between the sexes. Women own the least forest land of these three groups. There is more forest land that is co-owned than just owned by women. Examples of co-ownership can be siblings or spouses who own forest land together.

The difference has been persistent over time, with men's and women's ownership increasing by the same amount, 9 percent, since 1999. On the other hand, co-ownership has decreased since 1999.

Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden

More men than women are forest owners

In total, there were almost 303,000 forest owners in Sweden in 2023, of whom 61 percent were men and 39 percent women. The distribution has remained relatively unchanged since 1999. At that time, about 38 percent of forest owners were women.

Over time, the number of forest owners has decreased, in 1999 there were 351,000 owners, which was 48,000 more than in 2022.

Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden

Ownership by size of forest land

In 2023, it was more common to own more forest than it was in 1999. For example, in 1999 some 200 people, including 28 women, owned more than 1 000 hectares of productive forest land. In 2023, there were more than twice as many who owned more than 1,000 hectares, 64 of whom were women.

The decrease in the number of forest owners, both men and women, has mainly occurred in the area categories of 5 to 50 hectares of productive forest land. Among those who own 5 hectares or less, there were about the same number of men in 1999 as in 2023. On the other hand, the number of women in this group has increased by about 3,100. Thus, there is a greater spread in the distribution of land ownership in 2023 compared to 1999, with a larger proportion of owners in the lower and higher area classes. This is particularly evident for forest-owning women.

Forest owners are getting older

Forest owners have aged, and this applies to both sexes. In 1999, the most common age group was 50 to 59 years among both men and women who owned forest. In 2023, it was instead 60 to 69-year-olds who were in the most common age group, while the number of forest owners over the age of 70 increased sharply. Since 1999, the proportion of forest owners over the age of 70 has increased from 18 per cent to 31 per cent of all forest owners.

Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden

Largest proportion of women in Stockholm County

Most forest owners are registered in Västergötland County, but the gender distribution is the most even in Stockholm County, where 44 percent of the owners are women. In Uppsala, Södermanland, Gotland, Västernorrland, Skåne and Värmland counties are 40 percent of forest owners women. The lowest proportion of forest-owning women is in Norrbotten County at 35 percent. The figures refer to the year 2023.

Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden

More men than women in decision-making positions

The 30 largest forest-owning limited companies together owned more than 8 million hectares of productive forest land in 2022. The gender distribution on company boards differs from company to company, but on average 75 percent consisted of men. Of the 23 companies that had a registered CEO with the Swedish Companies Registration Office, fewer than three had a woman CEO.

In the forestry industry, the gender distribution is also uneven among people who are employed as managers. Just over one in six managers (15 percent) is a woman. The proportion has remained stable since 2014, which is the first year for the statistics. In all industries in Sweden, just over 40 percent of managers are women. The proportion has increased since 2014, when 37 percent of managers were women.

It is more common for men to study forestry

There are several types of post-secondary forestry education. Among graduated foresters, the gender distribution varies from year to year. The academic year 2020/2021 was the first year when there were more women than men who graduated as foresters. In general, there was a larger difference in the earlier years of the time series in the 1980s, but the single largest difference was in the academic year 2011/2012 when there were 40 more men who graduated than women.

6 times more men employed in forestry

In 2001, approximately 1,700 women and 17,500 men were employed in forestry. In 2022, there were approximately 3,800 women and 26,300 men. The proportion of women has increased from about 9 percent to 13 percent. The number of employed persons includes both employees and self-employed persons. However, the statistics are based on a sample survey, the Labour Force Surveys, which has wide margins of error for these categories, which in turn means that the proportions and numbers should be interpreted with caution in annual comparisons.

An employed person in the statistics is either an employee or is self-employed or a family worker. The survey is delimited to people between ages 15 and 74.

  • Last Updated: 4/24/2024