From forest to fiber for a low-carbon society 

Responsibly managed forests are an effective and sustainable way to use land. They play a vital part in solving many global challenges by

  • Providing natural resources for a low-carbon circular bioeconomy
  • Maintaining biodiversity
  • Mitigating climate change binding CO2 from the atmosphere and replacing fossil resources 
  • Securing clean water
  • Improving wellbeing and quality of everyday life for people 

Natural and planted forests occupy less than 30% of Earth’s surface and play a key role in supplying products vital for people’s everyday life; they generate a market of close to USD400 billion worldwide and more than 60 million direct and indirect jobs. 

There are 4,1 billion hectares of forests in the world (FAO, 2020). 93% of this area is composed of natural forests and 7% is planted for productive purposes. There are 278 million hectares of planted forests in the world. While taking up <7% of the world’s total forest area, they provide about 50% of all wood raw material for industrial purposes. The intensification of planted forest production, along with sustainable management of natural forests, plays a significant role in the protection and conservation of natural ecosystems.

 

Growing forests in Europe

Forests cover 40% of the European territory, while in the Nordic countries, Finland and Sweden, ca. 70% of the land is forests.

Forests are growing more than they are harvested; some 25% of the annual growth is stocked which leads to the continuous accumulation of growing stock in forests.

In fact, the growing stock has increased by 59% in the last 30 years. (Source: State of Europe's Forests, www.eugreensource.org)

In Europe, the use of forests is subject to stringent legislation and wood comes from well-managed forests where the cycle of natural regeneration, planting, growing and logging is carefully controlled.

Sustainable forestry

Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) is driving Europe’s forest growth. The industry has invested in the use of forest certification schemes such as the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™ (PEFC) and further voluntary schemes.

EPIS participates as an international stakeholder member in both FSC and PEFC.

The market pulp producers committed early on to sourcing wood from sustainably managed forests. It means the following:

  • The origin of wood is always known
  • All wood is legally logged
  • 100%* FSC® controlled wood and PEFC™ controlled sources
  • Harvested areas are replanted
  • 90%* of wood is certified vs world total of only 11%
  • Biodiversity is valued
  • Forests are managed as carbon sinks
  • Water systems are protected
  • No wood from protected areas or tropical forests is used
  • Occupational health and safety is respected
  • Strict requirements for suppliers with regular audits

*)The percentages for sustainable forestry represent EPIS members’ 2020 environmental LCI data averages. 

Biodiversity

European forests are are homes to thousands of species of birds, mammals, insects and plants. Climate change is threatening the forest biodiversity that is vital for our planet's ecosystem. Sustainable forest management preserves biodiversity and safeguards the forests for future generations. Europe's forest-based industry is committed to sustainable forest management: we plant more trees than we harvest and only use wood from controlled sources.

Well-managed forests provide a natural habitat for wildlife. The European Environment Agency (EEA) has stated that ‘Forestry practice in Europe is developing in a way that can be considered good for biodiversity.’ 

Forests have an important economic role beyond providing a renewable base for resources needed by all people as they provide vital income and employment in rural areas and down the forest-based value chain.

During its lifecycle the same tree and the area around it

  • Mitigates climate change
  • Binds +400 kg of carbon
  • Protects natural water sources
  • Cleans +800000 liters of water
  • Provides +20 kg edible wild food
  • Maintains biodiversity
  • Offers habitat for hundreds of species
  • Has high recreational value
  • Supports mental and physical wellbeing

To ensure the same benefits in the future, for every tree harvested, 3-4 seedlings are planted.

Towards circular economy

We support the circular economy by using all parts of the tree in a unique ecosystem alongside the mechanical wood industry and we are an important producer of renewable electricity to the grid from our pulp mills.

According to EPIS 2020 LCI data averages 97% of the energy used was renewable for northern pulp producers, and 93% also for Latin American producers: 

2020 data Northern bleached softwood kraft Bleached eucalyptus kraft pulp
Renewable energy 97 % 93 %
Sold electricity, MWh/ton of pulp 0,394 0,316
Countries Finland, Sweden and Germany Brazil and Uruguay

 

The European forestry sector is a recycling champion: 72 % of European paper and 85 % of European paper and board packaging is recycled. In total, we recycle 49 million tonnes of paper and board products each year. Recycled wood fibre can be reused 25 times or more with recycled textile fibre, which can be sometimes even stronger than the original.

Paper and board cannot be recycled indefinitely as fibers get too short and worn out and therefore can no longer be used in creating new paper or other products. Hence, virgin pulp is needed to continue the cycle. These new fibers come from renewable, sustainably managed forests and continue the loop.