Forest through the ages

  • 11 500 f Kr -

    50 f Kr

    Life in the forest

    During the Old Stone Age, the forest provides most of humanity’s sustenance – game, nuts, roots and berries. The advent of agriculture changes the human relationship with the forest. Cattle graze in the forest, while humans gather winter feed, timber and firewood.
  • 1000 -


    Iron ore and exploitation

    Deforestation occurs in Europe. Because Sweden has so much forest to use as fuel, metalwork becomes a major export. But here too, the forests begin to be depleted and in 1647 a forest ordinance is issued to better conserve wood resources. The first managed forests are established along the coast of northern Sweden.
  • 1800 -


    New methods and forestry act

    Industrialisation creates demand for sawn timber. Competition between iron mills leads to the introduction of systematic forest management in the Bergslagen region in the early 19th century. Paper pulp is an important technical breakthrough. The world’s first modern Forestry Act is adopted in 1903 to guarantee reforestation and the future supply of wood. A switch from axe to saw leads to less wastage.
  • 1914 -


    War and forest

    The economic woes of the 1920s and 1930s make forestry less profitable. There is a shift to selective harvesting, felling individual trees and relying on natural regeneration. Forest owners associations are set up to share knowledge about silviculture. In the Second World War Sweden is isolated and has to find replacements for imports within its borders. The forest is now needed to fuel vehicles and feed livestock. The forest owners associations mobilise their members to clear and thin for firewood, which promotes forest growth for several decades to come. After the war, the associations invest in sawmills and pulp mills. The Right of Public Access is established in 1937. The Annual Leave Act of 1938 introduces two weeks of holiday, and more people embrace outdoor pursuits.
  • 1945 -


    Material shortages and oil

    Many fear raw material shortages due to the forest industry’s considerable growth after the Second World War. Private forest owners are threatened with nationalisation, but the forest owners associations expand and help their members to achieve more efficient forest management. The state increasingly tries to regulate the activities of the forest owners through forestry legislation and a forestry agency. Forestry is mechanised and wood faces competition from access to cheap oil.
  • 1960 -


    Clearfelling and pesticides

    More mechanisation and a proliferation of large forest machinery lead to an increase in large-scale felling. The oil crisis of 1973 stems the challenge from fossil fuels. The state’s detailed regulation of forestry continues, but sparks opposition. Methods such as pesticide spraying and large-scale felling are called into question.
  • 1990 -


    Sustainable forestry and productivity

    Opposition to the state’s micro-management of forestry and the environmental movement’s concerns about biodiversity lead to the Forestry Act of 1993, which puts environmental and production goals on the same footing and gives forest owners considerable freedom to manage their forest as they see fit, within the framework of sustainable forestry. 1999 sees the introduction of the FSC certification scheme.
  • 2000 -


    Certifications and digitalisation

    It becomes clear that there are very different circumstances and approaches within the EU and the UN. Many issues now come to the fore, turning the spotlight on the forest regarding matters such as the labour market, enterprise, the environment, nature conservation, rural development and consideration for the indigenous population. Various standards for certification continue to be developed. The 2030 Agenda becomes the basis for global climate work. 3D scanning is employed for inventories of forest holdings (2017). This increases the amount of basic data that can be collected, improving the efficiency of forestry and environmental work.