Södra’s history is the story of how individual forest owners with commitment and foresight have together created a successful and growing industrial group. The need to get a good price on the market for forest raw materials has been a major driving force ever since the beginning in the 1920s.
In 1926, Smålands Skogsägareförening was formed through the merging of county associations. This was to be the first of a number of mergers and this trend has continued and caused Södra to grow geographically. As recently as on 1 January 2007, Bohuslän and Dalsland became part of Södra.
Södra is usually seen as having its beginnings in 1938, when Sydöstra Sveriges Skogsägareföreningars Förbund was formed. At that time Södra was also an economic association, something that has been important for its development.
During the Second World War, Södra played a significant role in Sweden’s energy supply. It was not just firewood for heating houses that came from Södra’s forests. Södra also contributed raw materials for the wood-gas generators that propelled cars, buses and other vehicles in wartime. When the war came to an end, oil was once again imported into Sweden. And now not just for propelling vehicles. Heating using oil became common and demand for firewood as a fuel reduced.
The needs of the sawmills did not provide a sufficiently big market for the increasing growth in the more and more professionally run forests. Södra’s MD, Gösta Edström realised that it would be necessary to start their own pulp mills in order to create a market for forest raw materials. He pushed through this investment in new industry, which is still Södra’s core today. For many years, he was both the great visionary and the great implementer in Södra’s leadership.
The pulp mills were located at Mönsterås, Mörrum and Värö. They were inaugurated in 1959, 1962 and 1972. Södra had become a successful forestry group with an international market. Sales offices were built up in a number of countries.
After a decline at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s, the government intervened and took over 40 percent of shares in the industrial section. By 1985, the situation had stabilised and Södra was able to redeem the government’s shareholding.