WHAT WE DO
Södra is Sweden’s largest forest-owner association, with 52,000 forest owners as its members. Södra is also an international forest industry Group, with operations based on processing its members’ forest products.
Södra’s business is built on value-generating relationships and a long-term approach. The overall assignment from its owners is to promote the profitability of their forest estates by providing advice and support for responsible and sustainable forestry, and to contribute to a market-based rate of return on their forest products.
THE FOREST IS GROWING THE FUTURE
New materials, exciting new applications and high-tech solutions. Maybe not the first things that come to mind when you picture a Swedish forest. And yet, rugged tree trunks are actually far more flexible than anyone might imagine.
That the forest is the future is old news. On the one hand, monumentaland steady – on the other, flexible and versatile – it has always provided us with everything from protection
and fuel to food and clothing. The forest has stood faithfully by our side, through thick and thin,
for better or for worse. Today, we can use wood to make more and more advanced products
than ever before. Limitations are few and possibilities many when working with a well-managed forest.
Our operations span from traditional products such as paper pulp and sawn timber, to new exciting applications such as renewable energy, lightweight construction material and textile pulp used to make clothes, making us less dependent on cotton and oil. It is at this point we have to pinch ourselves. Because the forest is also one of the world’s most renewable and
sustainable raw materials. The 70 years that it takes in our most common forests to mature from seedling to harvestable tree allows us plenty of time to plan for the tree’s use – and to replant.
When we talk about such exciting topics as composite materials, it is easy to get technical. That is because we take such pride in the advanced process involved. But also because of the potential in a material that is as lasting as it is renewable.
We are an inventive bunch in the forest industry, a good thing to be when you are continually striving to do more with the incredible raw material that the forest provides. Here at Södra, we are not content to refine the products that our customers have long come to rely on and use in their own processes – we are also constantly looking for new applications for the world’s best raw material.
ENERGY AND THEN SOME
The forest has always been one of our most important energy sources. Today, after we produce pulp and sawn timber we convert the leftover raw material into bio-products. We are seeing a shift in society that involves us shaking off our fossil-fuel dependency. For us, much of this is in the detail, educating our drivers in eco-driving and not using tyres with highly aromatic oils in the tyre tread, for example. Our own trucks run on renewable diesel and use biodegradable hydraulic oil. And so on.
But in order for there to be any real change, big things need to happen too. Here at Södra, we have been making large-scale investments for many years in an attempt to make our pulp mills energy self-sufficient. As a result, we now generate a surplus so that we can offer the market green electricity from the forest. We also supply district heating to nearby locations from our pulp mills and two of our sawmills.
We sell biofuel too – mainly to large corporate customers, but also to the private market in the form of pellets. We have been doing this for over 30 years, but the potential to grow in this area is vast. Everything that we cannot use to make paper pulp or sawn timber (primarily bark, shavings and chips) can be converted into green energy by us or by someone else. And should anyone be in need of yet another energy boost, biofuel production also creates more jobs in Sweden!
A WORTHY SUBSTITUTE
Forest is one of the most versatile and renewable raw materials on the planet. Wood can replace less eco-friendly alternatives, while simultaneously being controllable in a way that other renewable resources, such as sun, wind and water, are not.
Here at Södra, we talk about the three-fold benefits of the forest. It stems from the three ways in which the trees reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The first is that growing trees store carbon. The more growing trees, the greater the absorption. That is why it is important to have well-managed forests that are harvested and replanted. When we then make various products out of the wood – houses, for example – we “bind” the carbon dioxide instead of releasing it into the air. The third benefit (and from our perspective, the best) is that we help to substitute the use of fossil fuels so that they can stay where they belong: in the ground.
Today, forest products can substitute countless fossil products – wood instead of concrete, paper instead of plastic, or cellulose instead of synthetic fibres in clothing. Creating these three-fold benefits means, however, that the forest must be managed in a long-term, sustainable
manner. Ecosystems must be in place, diversity preserved and the productive capacity of the forest maintained. This is what we do every day on land owned by our 52,000 members where we together take care of more than two million hectares of forest.
52,000 CLOSE FRIENDS
Södra is a democratic association comprised of 52,000 members. Together, we have made our company a thriving and growing industrial group that is well equipped to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Our members have many roles to play in Södra. Our democratic ownership model means that forest owners are both owners and suppliers, lenders and customers. There is much to gain from this model. First and foremost, the members are ensured markets for their forest products – the trees themselves, in other words. They receive personal and professional help to manage and develop their forestry in the best manner. Then we process, market and sell products all over the world. It works well: almost two-thirds of all products are exported for an annual value of SEK 11 billion. In addition to receiving payment for the wood, all the members share in the profits from the sales.
Last but not least, we are involved in business policy issues. A topic that covers many areas, but above all securing the best possible terms and conditions for our members’ forestry. Occasionally, it involves talking about major topics like how important forestry is for Sweden and the environment, but also more practical details such as damage from insects and wildlife conservation as well as consideration in forestry. Whatever issue is on the day’s agenda, we always have the best interests of our members in mind.