19 June 2012

Sustainable forestry in southern Sweden (SUFOR)


To be sustainable in the long term, forestry must be financially profitable. It must also be based on preserving biodiversity in forests and ensuring that production does not deplete the stock of nutrients in the soil; and it must take social aspects, such as the recreation and experience value of forests, into account. The SUFOR (Sustainable Forestry in Southern Sweden) research programme has, by developing models for assessing the consequences of different management options, helped the forestry of the future to find a balance.


A key component of the programme has been developing models to simulate different scenarios for forests in the region. During the first phase of the programme, the research concentrated on enhancing understanding of fundamental forest issues, such as nutrient balances in the soil, and trees and biodiversity. In the second phase of the programme, this knowledge was used to devise mathematical models.

Models produced by the researchers include ones that calculate mass balances of chemical substances in forest land; one that can forecast self-regeneration of birch stands; and one capable of estimating the probability of wind damage in different stands of tree at the level of whole Swedish provinces.


SUFOR has helped to bring about an increase in knowledge about forestry in Southern Sweden. Forestry organisations, public agencies and individual forest owners have gained access to the models for forest scenarios and can use them as the basis for assessing the implications of different management options in future forest use. Early on, for example, the researchers in the programme succeeded in developing a model that takes into account risks and uncertainty factors in forestry. This model helps forest stakeholders to reduce damage to forests due to storms. In SUFOR, models were also developed at provincial level and these have facilitated work to preserve biodiversity.

Publicity and training were key tools for disseminating knowledge from the programme. As well as more than 100 scientific publications, a textbook on forest management was, for example, produced for students in higher education. Experience from SUFOR will also benefit the public in the long term, through more sustainable management of the forests of southern Sweden and preservation of biodiversity.

Only in the slightly longer term will SUFOR’s full value become evident. The new ways of thinking and working that have been created will make a great deal of change possible in the future.
Olof Johansson, Sveaskog’s Senior Vice President, Environment and Sustainable Development, and member of the programme board

The programme ended in 2004.


Programme period

Mistra invested SEK 108 million

Programme host:
1996–2002: Lund University
2002–04: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Programme director:
1996–2002: Bengt Nihlgård, Lund University
2002–04: Ola Sallnäs, Lund University

Chair of the Programme Board:
Sven Sjunnessson, former chief executive of the Swedish Federation of Forest Owners

Some 70 researchers and PhD students participated in SUFOR. The higher education institutions and research institutes taking part were Lund University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, the Lund Institute of Technology, the University of Gothenburg and IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.

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