Biologists report positive trends in Swedish forest biodiversity since new forest policy was implemented in 1990s and notable increase in dead wood, old deciduous trees and area of old forest seen; only 6% of forests are currently formally protected

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January 11, 2024 (press release) –

How is the biological diversity in the Swedish forest? Researchers Mats Hannerz and Per Simonsson have analyzed this in their new report "Biological diversity in the forest - Condition, trends and environmental work". The positive trends continue, but there is more to do, their compilation shows.

We see that some species are decreasing somewhat due to forestry, but it is important to understand that it is not a matter of mass extinction, as you might sometimes think when you listen to the debate, says Per Simonsson. 

He is a biologist and has worked with nature conservation for almost fifty years and has a doctorate at the Swedish University of Agriculture and has written the report together with Mats Hannertz, who has a doctorate in forest genetics and forester.

It can be difficult to assess whether, for example, fungi, lichens and insects will increase or decrease, and access to historical material is limited. This means that we actually know quite a bit about how the diversity in the forest has developed. In addition, new technologies, such as DNA analyses, allow many new species to be discovered. 

What can be investigated, however, are the environments and structures that different species need. And there the numbers are clear. Since the mid-1990s when the new forest policy was introduced, the amount of dead wood has increased, there are more old deciduous trees and more area of ​​old forest. But the forests have also become denser. It can benefit some species, but those that want light – for example, berry rice and reindeer lichens – do not thrive as well.

To benefit biological diversity, Per Simonsson thinks that the state should take greater responsibility and protect more forests. 
Today, approximately six percent is formally protected, but half of these areas are above the border near the mountains. The voluntary reserves that private forest owners make are as extensive as what the state protects, and I think the state should be able to do more.

Per Simonsson also thinks that as a forest owner you should strive to create a varied stand:
Mix tree species and work more on self-rejuvenation by leaving seed pines to benefit the mycorrhizal fungi, that's my advice!

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