Holmen Skog, Iggesund Paperboard’s sister company and forest raw material supplier, is burning the forest on the island of Innerstön, one of the group of Baltic islands that lie offshore from the city of Hudiksvall north of Iggesund.
In a press note issued today, Iggesund explained that modern forest management tried to develop felling methods that resembled the effects of natural forest fires, which had served an important ecological function for millennia.
So by burning standing timber in controlled circumstances, Holmen was implementing an important nature conservation measure that would benefit a number of rare species of flora and fauna. Over the next 16 years all the forest on the island, totalling 380 ha, would be burned in stages.
“There’s not enough burned forest at present,” said Magnus Aretorn, who is in charge of caring for the Holmen Skog forests in the Iggesund region and responsible for nature conservation measures. “By having frequent and recurring fires we will create a mosaic of burned timber at various stages of decomposition. This will create an environment that is unique in Sweden and will benefit rare species which depend on the heat from the fires or on various stages of decomposed, dead or burned timber.”
Examples of Swedish species which benefit from these special conditions are the cranesbill plants Geranium bohemicum and Geranium lanuginosum, the lichen Hypocenomyce anthracophila, the black fire beetle Melanophila acuminata and various species of the powderpost beetle Stephanopachys.
For millennia, the forests have burned at irregular intervals, often as a result of lightning, but nowadays these fires are put out far more efficiently than before. The result is that few burned forest environments are created naturally.
Innerstön is surrounded by water and lies in a sheltered setting, making it a safer location than the mainland for a controlled burn.
The island has been divided into eight zones and burns have been scheduled so that by 2028 the entire island will have been burned. By 2030 the controlled burn will start again in the first zone.
“This might seem to be a long-term perspective but in our industry it’s not,” Aretorn said. “The raw material for the quality paperboard Invercote comes from our forests in this region. Here it takes between 80 to 100 years for a pine tree to grow. So to put it bluntly, we who are planting the trees now won’t still be around when the time comes to harvest them.”
A controlled burn on the island of Innerstön, offshore from Iggesund Paperboard’s mill.