Swedish Forestry Agency's annual inventory shows that 11% of Sweden's young pines have suffered damage from game grazing in the past year--more than twice the maximum target of 5%; Norra Skog's areas show deterioration compared to previous years

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November 21, 2023 (press release) –

During the year, 13 percent of young pines in Västernorrland were injured by game grazing from moose and other deer. Norrbotten, Västerbotten and Jämtland are also badly affected. This year's moose grazing inventory shows that the damage is still far above the target of a maximum of five percent.

Text: Karolina Edstedt Photo: Gabriel Alenius/Unsplash and Calle Bredberg

Date: 2023-11-21

The Swedish Forestry Agency's annual inventory shows that 11 percent of Sweden's young pines have suffered damage from game grazing in the past year. This means that injuries remain at far too high levels, twice as high as the target of a maximum of five percent. 

The results in Norra Skog's area are a deterioration compared to previous years. Västernorrland and Jämtland show a high but similar result to previous years with 13 and 10 percent respectively in this year's moose grazing inventory. In Norrbotten and Västerbotten, damage to young pine has increased in recent years and is now at 12 and 11 percent respectively.

» We are concerned about the results and that we are not seeing improvements over time. We see large variations locally, which we believe may be due to several factors such as late snowmelt. Now we get to do a deeper analysis of the material and work with the important local and regional dialogues to understand the connections, says Maria Syrjälä, wildlife manager for region North.

Increase despite measures
Since 2016, the national injury rate has fluctuated around just over 10 percent. This year's inventory result of 11 percent is a slight decrease since the worst result in 2019 when the level was 13 percent, but is at the same time an increase of one percentage point since 2022. » The elk 

population has decreased and forest owners are investing more and more in pine, which are the two most powerful measures . It is worrying that, despite this, we do not yet see major improvements nationally, even if there are glimmers of light. The relationships are complex and several factors affect the damage levels, for example other deer game is increasing in parts of the country and the snowmelt was late in parts of Norrland. It is important that all actors persistently continue with the long-term work, says Ebba Henning Planck, game specialist at the Norwegian Forestry Agency.

The latest figures from ÄBIN are worrying. The trend is somewhat more positive in the southern half of the country and to some extent also in southern Norrland, even if it is a long way from forestry's target figure. In Norr- and Västerbotten there is, with a few regional exceptions, a more negative trend. There, although there has been a relatively clear reduction in winter strains in recent years, grazing damage has continued to be high according to ÄBIN measurements. Interannual variations can also be large. It may depend on the weather, but often they are difficult to explain. It shows how complex and difficult it is to regulate an elk tribe to acceptable damage levels. Here, landowners and hunters need to continue to think about how to best measure damage and put it in relation to the size of the tribe. The goal for us forest owners is, of course, to be able to run forestry with high and valuable growth.

In discussions between stakeholders, it should not be forgotten that it is actually tract logging that created the conditions for a large, Swedish moose herd. It is in young forests that the absolute majority of moose food is found. Today there is pressure for more allocations and for "clearance-free" forestry to be carried out on a larger proportion of the forest land. If these intentions are followed, the supply of fodder will unequivocally decrease. Then it becomes an even greater challenge for different interests to be able to coordinate the benefits of the forest in a good way. 

Anders Pettersson
Board member Norra Skog

The extent of grazing damage in Sweden.
Source: The Norwegian Forestry Agency



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