A year in the life of our forests
We continue to bring you a snapshot of life in a typical forest estate owned by one of our 52,000 members. Jonas Larsson is our guide through the year. Managing Director of Södra Cell GmbH and Senior Advisor Forestry, he has been a Södra member for eight years with a plot of 20 hectares, just under half the size of an average Södra forest estate. His wife Marie previously owned a Södra forest that was in the family for four generations, now managed by her brother.
It’s been a busy month with the family helping to plant (by hand) the 2,000 new seedlings ordered in from Södra’s nurseries a few months ago. “This is a 70-year vision,” explains Larsson. “What we plant today will be harvested 60-70 years from now, so we are really planning now for the generations to come. It’s been rather warm and dry the last two months in this part of Sweden, making planting challenging. We use potted seedlings rather than bare roots so they will have an initial supply of nutrients, but the new additions are sensitive and if they dry out, they will die.
“The drier climate is a reminder that our plans really need to be mindful of species adaptation, today more than ever. We always seek to provide the optimal conditions for the saplings to ensure high growth, yield and quality. First, careful breeding in Södra’s nurseries ensures we get the best quality plants, then preparing the soil before their arrival provides the best chance to thrive in that particular spot, but increasingly too, we are thinking about adaptation to climate change. Spruce, for example, needs a good level of moisture while pine can prove more resilient, both in terms of water scarcity but also storm damage as it has a deeper root system. On the other hand, pine are more prone to attacks from moose. It’s a balancing act that requires careful consideration as planting the right tree species in the right place is critical for the long-term health of the forest. Södra provides guidance on this for members and is always tracking rainfall, mean temperatures etc.
“We do have the gift of natural regeneration meaning that we often get a mix of planted and naturally regenerated trees in the forest, although it does mean that a regenerated birch among the pine might not be in an optimal place if we didn’t put it there! We adjust this when doing the pre-commercial thinning in some 5-8 years’ time, as mentioned before in the March chapter. Careful planning and planting should ensure that some 90% of the saplings we planted this month will survive, provided the weather plays its part – so we do hope Mother Nature will help them along with a few showers this summer. Fingers crossed.”
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