The forest-based sector in Sweden

In Sweden, forests cover 70% of the country. There is now twice as much wood in Sweden as there was 90 years ago. 1% of the forest is felled annually. Nonetheless, growth outpaces felling. The Swedish forest-based industries employ approximately 108 000 people, and Sweden has more than 30 000 private forest owners. Export value was SEK 167 billion in 2021, representing 6,7% of Sweden’s merchandise exports.

Forests play a crucial role in the transition to a circular bio-based society, contributing significantly to Sweden’s economic growth, creating social benefits and enabling the whole country to develop. Sweden is the world’s fifth-largest exporter of forest-based products. Swedish forestry and forest-based industries are in an expansive phase and are world-leading in the research areas driving the transition to a circular bio-based society.

 A green transition is needed in response to climate and environmental challenges. The Swedish forests and forest-based industries create both the conditions and the solutions for a circular and biobased society. Forest-based products substitute fossil-based alternatives, and both the growing forest and long-living wood products provide carbon sequestration.

In the near future, high-rise wooden buildings and extensions will provide resource-efficient and climate-efficient solutions for the world’s cities, and industrial wood construction will continue to contribute to more sustainable buildings.

Wolrd-leadinf processes and technologies are used t manage and process forest raw materials from actively managed forests. Research is helping to ensure that the forests can continue to be the basis for a variety of ecosystem services, with knowledge and dialogue as a foundation for manage;ent and stocking in the future.

The forest-based industries’ packaging materials, textiles and hygiene products are supplied to world markets, and they contribute to a global reduction in the use of fossil materials. Forest fibers can be recycled and reused for new products. Materials from renewable forest raw material are further developed and new products are created.

The Swedish forest-based industries have fantastic opportunities for powerful contributions to the development of a society which is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. By increasing research investments, existing processes and products can be developed and supplemented with new competitive technologies, as well as new products and materials.

Research & Innovation landscape

Sweden is one of the leading nations in forestry and forest industry research. Swedish companies are absolutely at the forefront of industrial wood construction and development of new wood and cellulose-based products, such as bioplastics, biocomposites, carbon fibre materials and textile fibres. Technological breakthrough possibilities are also considerable, in terms of the development of chemicals and refined fuels.

Research is crucial when it comes to maintaining the competitiveness of the forest industries and to realizing the vision of a bio-based society. Rigorous research efforts provide the right conditions for a competitive forest industry. However, current products can be further developed and supplemented with completely new materials that can not only replace the fossil-based products of today but also achieve completely new areas of use.

Today, Sweden is in many ways an international leader in forestry and forest industry research. Of the annual Swedish investment in research on forestry and forest industry, the forest industry and private foundations account for around four billion Swedish crowns, and state financing for around two billion. Investment in research needs to continuously increase to strengthen the competitiveness of the Swedish forest industries and for Sweden to manage the transformation to a fossil-free, bio-based society and circular economy.