VAXJO, Sweden, Nov. 13, 2019 (Press Release) -Södra is investing in large-scale and automated forest tree breeding through the innovative technologies company, SweTree Technologies. SEK 50 million will be invested in a pilot facility in Umeå. Stora Enso, Sveaskog and Holmen are co-funding the project.
“We are hoping for a technological leap that will enable fast and efficient seedling production from the best tree breeding material in Sweden. This is a gratifying and solution-oriented climate investment by the forest industry,” said Göran Örlander, forestry strategist at Södra and Chairman of the project’s steering committee.
SweTree Technologies has been developing a technology for automated seedling production based on somatic embryogenesis for several years. In addition to the positive climate effects, since faster growth increases CO₂ uptake, it is possible to develop the qualitative characteristics of trees to improve their resilience to diseases and pests. This will also be more profitable for forest owners in terms of time and quality. The facility is scheduled for completion within one year.
The investment is in line with Södra’s sustainability target of a 20-percent higher rate of annual forest growth in 2050 compared with 2015.
“Forest growth and production issues are of central importance if we want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and energy by increasing the use of wood and renewable products. That’s why this investment is a step in the right direction,” said Göran Örlander.
Founded in 1938, Södra is Sweden’s largest forest-owner association, with 52,000 forest owners as its members. We conduct modern and responsible forestry, and operate state-of-the-art mills in which we process our raw material. In 2018, sales amounted to SEK 24 billion and employees totalled 3,100. Through value-generating relationships and a long-term approach, Södra shows the way for the next generation of forestry.