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BOREAL FOREST - Scandinavia

In contrast to Canada’s northern forest, biodiversity is low in the Scandinavian boreal, owing to the cold climate and forced migrations in the post-glacial period. It is also scarce in its frontier old-growth forests, unlike either Canada’s and Russia’s boreal. Scandinavia only retains about five percent of its original boreal forest, but it has a long history of sustainable forestry.

Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark introduced legislation about a century ago that limited the harvest and required regeneration efforts in the interests of high timber production. Since this time, forest resources have doubled in Scandinavia and ecological incentives for sustainability have become more important. The Scandinavian countries also invest some $26 million dollars in forest management research each year, mostly for improving sustainable forest production, but also for alternative forestry methods and the preservation of biodiversity.

Contrary to Scandinavia’s strict control on its natural resources, Russia - home to 22 percent of the world’s forests - shows a distinct lack of forestry law enforcement. The state forest management systems are outdated in many areas and still estimate the allowable annual cut according to Soviet era calculations. These estimates exclude both thinnings and the requirements of new forestry laws adopted in the past decade. Environmental impact assessments are often done by unregulated and unmonitored non-governmental organizations.

© Lauren Holly Best, all rights reserved