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SALVAGING SWEDEN'S TIMBER

by , 01/29/06

timber

Last winter, Sweden was blasted by the first storm in recorded history to ever deliver hurricane force winds, devastating the country’s valuable fir and pine forests. It’s been estimated that 75 million cubic meters of forest were destroyed, or about 150 million trees. Logging crews came from all over the world, comprising the largest logging operation ever. By working all day for nine months, the crews were able to salvage 75% of the felled trees. This massive collection of wood is now stored at a former air strip and has become quite a tourist attraction: stacked in rows over forty feet tall and several hundred feet long, the rows each amount to approximately 1,000,000 cubic meters of timber.

Millions of cubic feet of harvested timber have been donated to countries in Southeast Asia who were hit by the tsunami; an estimated 98% of the raw construction lumber used for rebuilding efforts in Thailand and Indonesia has come from Swedish timber!

Note: a friend recounted this story to us, and while we found it fascinating we have been unable to find other (English-written) sources. Please let us know if you have any additional information to offer us!

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11 Comments

  1. Gerard February 1, 2006 at 7:59 am

    Amazing… A natural disaster(the storm) creates a windfall of raw material for hundreds of thousands of PEOPLE to rebuild their lives. Men, Women, Children, devestated by the loss of loved ones, threatened by disease, wondering how they are going to survive, desperate for shelter from the elements, eager to rebuild their lives….
    And the conversation focuses on “Environmental” damage, and the value of renewable, plant life…. Incredible!

    If you believe in evolution, don’t worry. The forests will return, without our help, as they have following “Natural Disasters and Infestations” for thousands of years. Where is our conscience, respect and compassion for Human Life? I suggest it is easier to philosophise over some ideological cause, than to show concern for our fellow man, and actually help those in need…..

    As for Global warming, Have you read that the earth’s magnetic north pole has shifted over 100 miles in just the last 40 years! The magnetic pole is generated by convection of the earth’s magma, beneath the crust we inhabit. That means, the incredible heat distributed by the magma, has shifted, causing a change in the heat distributed by the crust into the atmosphere. As politically incorrect as it is, Global warming is not related to mankind or fossil fuels. Our contribution is miniscule, and insignificant compared to the energy disipated by the shifting convection currents of magma in the earth. By the way, hasn’t global warming been underway since the middle of the last Ice Age?

  2. Doug February 1, 2006 at 4:21 am

    If we want forests instead of tree farms, salvage logging is very harmful to the ecosystem. A recent study in Oregon found that post-fire logging killed 80% of the seedlings that had naturally established after the fire and caused an increased in the hazardous fuels that the government claimed it was trying to eliminate. Dead trees are the building blocks for the future forest. Dead trees help control erosion, provide essential wildlife habitat, provide favorable sites for germination of seeds, and they store and release water and nutrients for the new forest. If we want to restore complex old forests on public lands, then we need to start with complex young forests that include a mixed mosaic of species and abundant strucutral legacies from the prior stand. The only credible salvage project will remove flammable small trees and retain all the large trees that will provide ecological benefits for the longest period. See the link above for an example of our appeal to stop salvage logging on public land in Oregon.

  3. Cam February 1, 2006 at 12:55 am

    This storm was called Gudrun (or, in Germany, Erwin); it hit on January 8, 2005.

  4. rentonph February 1, 2006 at 12:03 am

    Being from Canada and being a treeplanter for the last 17 years I can atest to the devastation of both the logging companies and the pine beetles. The sad part is that the efforts to salvage the timber are as short-sighted as I have ever seen. For example why are they replanting these forests with monocultures of pine trees?

  5. Serge de Gheldere January 31, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    Several years ago, France was hit by sever wind storms in winter. The quantity of felled trees was so overhelmingly large, that several areas were left uncleared for years and years.
    Suposedly, these uncleared areas recovered much faster than the cleared areas. Since then, other nature preserves in Europe, such as the Hoge Veluwe in the Netherlands have adopted a similar approach, where felled trees just stay in the woods and decompose and serve as habitat and nutrient for the rest of the ecosystem.

  6. mike January 30, 2006 at 8:00 pm

    does this mean that wooden products at ikea will get less expensive?

  7. Jens January 30, 2006 at 11:26 am

    From living in the middle of this area an interesting observation is how this storm changed the whole landscape. There is also now discussions about the EU subsidising the plantation of leaf trees mixed with the pine to avoid this to be repeated.

  8. Sarah January 30, 2006 at 12:10 am

    Great points, all. Pine beetle disease is also ravaging forests in Colorado near Rocky Mountain National Park, where I spend a lot of time. There actually are not logging industries right there, and yet the blight is killing whole forests.

    I was intrigued by the idea of making use of these dead trees. They get transported out of the forest regardless, by maintenance crews whose job it is to clear dead wood, so sending them to some enterprising person instead of landfill or fire – especially in a place where people still build “rustic” log cabins – seems like an interesting opportunity.

    Unfortunately, global warming now makes it extremely unlikely that temperatures will drop low enough for a long enough consecutive period of days that the beetle could be eradicated. Global warming is surely a culprit in the fact that Sweden got such an uncharacteristically powerful storm in the first place. From this deep inside the environmental mess, it’s hard to distinguish which actions cause more damage and which repair damage that’s already been done…

  9. Adam January 29, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    I also strongly question this type of exploitation. What is happening with the pine beetle infestation in BC is very suspect. Areas that were forbidden to logging companies have been opened up for logging in a effort to “chase the beetles”. There are numerous studies showing that logging is most often what allows the beetles access to the forest in the first place, by opening up large holes in vulnerable areas. It is almost common knowledge that logging will never stop the infestation, but rather successive cold winters. In the case of Sweden and it’s blown-down timber, I question the effect on intect forest regions, one of the greatest impacts of logging is transporting the logs off site.

    I also wonder what price they will get for this wood if were dumped onto the market all at once?

  10. R Taylor January 29, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    Similar efforts to make the best out of a natural disaster are going on in BC as pine from trees killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle is being marketed as ‘Denim Pine’. Whole mountains are covered in these dead trees whose wood is stained a blue-grey by the infestation, and loggers and mills can’t keep up. Read about the marketing efforts here: http://www.iswonline.com/wwp/wom/denimpine.cfm
    Until a couple of cold, cold winters slow the spread of these pests, there will be no shortage of this beautiful wood, which left untouched will stand, dead, until rot and wind knock whole forests flat.

  11. Rithy January 29, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    I don’t know how I feel about this…Yes reclaming wood is nice, but with the amount they reclaimed would it determental to the regrowth of the area that was hit?

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