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29 May 2018

Sweden adopts first of its kind national forestry programme with focus on sustainable resource management and conservation

Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

On the 17th of May the Swedish government adopted strategy for National Forestry Programme. At the core of the programme is broad dialogue about the role of forests in a sustainable society and a growing bioeconomy. Sustainable management and conservation of the country’s forests should not only be a domestic issue, but also a priority for Swedish-international cooperation.

The new strategy, which is the first of its kind, is based upon five target areas, including sustainability, multifaceted use of forest resources, raw materials used by the forest-based industries, conservation, knowledge and innovation. “This is about all the services that forests provide us with; massive economic value, significant social value and crucial environmental value. All the benefits we gain from forests need to be unified and recognised.” says Sweden’s Minister for Rural Affairs, Sven Erik Bucht, during a press conference where the new strategy was presented.

Developing the strategy of the Forestry Programme has been a work in progress since 2015, and different stakeholders have contributed to developing a cohesive vision. The Forest, Climate and Livelihood Research Network (Focali) have been involved in the dialogue process through meetings with the secretariat for the Forestry Programme and through a referral response to supporting reports.

This knowledge exchange and dialogue is indicative of a sound scientific base for the new policy and productive cross-sector collaboration. Maria Ölund, Project Coordinator at Focali, hopes that this cooperation will continue during the implementation phase: ”To understand and to apply sustainable management of forests and multifunctional landscapes, we need to employ a breadth of natural- and social science-based research and facilitate cooperation between academia and other stakeholders”.

Hearing of the National Forestry Programme, October 2016, where Focali were present. In picture, Elisabeth Backteman.

Photo: Maria Ölund

Priority in Swedish international cooperation

Target Area 4 – Sustainable management and conservation of forests as a key area of concern for Swedish international cooperation – specifically addresses Sweden’s role in promoting these strategies on the global stage. In large parts of the world forests are depleted as a result of deforestation and large-scale degradation. Subsequently, restoring depleted land to productive and multifunctional landscapes is becoming increasingly important.

The goal for Target Area 4 is that forests and their value chains should contribute to global sustainable development and the implementation of Agenda 2030. The need for a clear and leading voice from Sweden on sustainable development and a growing bioeconomy worldwide is also emphasised, particularly within the EU, UN and other international contexts.

“The fact that forest services and values are now prioritised in Swedish development cooperation and the implementation of 2030 Agenda is a positive sign. The Focali research network has a lot to contribute, for example with knowledge about which strategies actually strengthen sustainable forest management and which policies have proven effective in other forest related sustainability issues,” says Maria Ölund. She is looking forward to see how the strategy will be introduced in practice.

Forests have gained attention within Swedish foreign aid policy: the new strategy underscores the role of forests in aid in general as well as in country-specific strategies. According to this new vision, Swedish international cooperation should create the necessary conditions for productive and sustainable investments in agriculture and forest management, turning these sectors into powerful tools for combatting poverty, ensuring food security and sustainable economic development,  reducing the risk of humanitarian crises.

The five Target Areas of the new strategy are:

  1. Sustainable forest management integrated with climate change policy.
  2. Multi-faceted use of forests for more jobs and sustainable growth nationwide.
  3. Innovation and world-class processed raw forest materials.
  4. Sustainable management and conservation of forests as a key area of concern for Swedish international cooperation.
  5. An expansion of the knowledge base for sustainable management and conservation of forests.

Read more about the topic in Swedish on Focali’s website, the whole strategy, or a shorter information sheet here.