The sleet whipped into my face as I walked towards Münchenbryggeriet and this year’s Bioeconomic Forum – a meeting place for discussing the development of a sustainable economy. High on the agenda were innovation and wood construction. The event saw Professor Staffan Brege of Linköping University release his new report on how wood construction could develop by the year 2025. It is a response to the major challenges that society faces with regard to construction, the climate and employment. The results show that it is fully possible to have 50 percent wood in tall building construction by 2025.
A development period of almost 20 years has produced a whole new industry that is now in a position to help meet the challenges with knowledge, efficiency and sustainability. The contribution to the regions where these industries are located or planned is significant in terms of value creation and employment. Internationally, Sweden has a leading position in industrial wood construction and there is considerable interest in our experience and known-how.
The foundation of continued progress towards a bioeconomy is our forest, which covers 70 percent of Sweden’s landmass. The forest is growing by 120 million cubic metres each year. That is equivalent to a stack of roundwood four metres high and three metres wide stretching the entire length of Sweden, 1600 km. When the trees grow via photosynthesis, they absorb carbon dioxide and the carbon is stored in the structure of the wood. The wood then continues to store the carbon when it is used as timber in buildings, for example. We harvest only 75 percent of the annual growth and so our forest holdings are expanding year on year. This growth will increase in the future, as will our opportunities to harvest and make products. Our forest helps to supply an emerging global bioeconomy with renewable products, whether to provide a roof overhead, clothing, reading matter, good hygiene or heating. To quote the theme of the Swedish Timber Prize, which is celebrating 50 years of looking forwards rather than backwards: Your contemporary choices are building the future.