About old-growth forest

Old-growth forest is not the same as old-forest. In northern Sweden, stands with an average age of more than 140 years are classified as old. In southern Sweden, the corresponding limit is 120 years. Much of the old forest has been cleared and thinned and will soon be felled. Old-growth forests have not been cleared and thinned and therefore have a higher biological value. There are also many younger trees through natural regeneration, so the average age is not always as high as in a cleared and thinned old forest.

Old-growth forests are more or less untouched forests that have not been managed by modern forestry and have therefore retained their natural life cycle. An old-growth forest has trees of all sorts and ages. There is dead wood in the form of 'deadwood' (dead tree trunks that are still standing), and 'fallen logs' (tree trunks that are lying on the ground and slowly decomposing). There are lots of fungi, herbs, insects, birds and other animals. Such forests provide the necessary conditions for many of Sweden's threatened species. Old-growth forests are vital for biodiversity and for mitigating the climate crisis.

Over half of all threatened species in Sweden are associated with old-growth forest that have not been significantly affected by forestry. Some species develop so slowly that they cannot reproduce unless the forest is left untouched and becomes old enough. They may also have special environmental requirements, such as dead wood, high humidity, and interaction with other threatened species, which are rarely found other than in old-growth forest. Thank you Due to the natural interaction of all species, large amounts of carbon, about 70% of all carbon in the forest, have been stored in the soil for thousands of years. About 30% is in the biomass of trees.

The area of old-growth forest has decreased significantly in Sweden during the 20th century. The development has also meant that the areas of old-growth forest that remain have been split into individual stands that have become more and more isolated from each other. It is primarily species with limited dispersal ability and species that require large contiguous areas of untouched forest that are threatened when old-growth forests are fragmented in this way. Particularly in southern Sweden, there are not enough contiguous areas of old-growth forest to maintain viable populations of species.

Today, perhaps a few percent of the Swedish forest can be considered unprotected old-growth forest. In southern Sweden, the proportion of unprotected old-growth forest is approaching zero percent. The Swedish government has committed to protect and protect 17% by 2020. This target was not reached, as the government was aware long before. Only 3.4% of all productive forest land below the mountain range is formally protected, and each year more is harvested old-growth forest than is protected. This is why Naturarvet exists, to give everyone the opportunity to participate and protect Sweden's last old-growth forests. And it is urgent... 2030 is too late.