According to the National Forest Inventory, growth in the Swedish forest has decreased over a ten-year period. Now researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Umeå suspect that it has to do with the fact that the atmosphere has become drier.

"The speed of growth has decreased, we believe it has to do with the fact that the air has become much drier," says Hjalmar Laudon, researcher at SLU in Umeå.

Growth in the Swedish forest has slowed down over a ten-year period. The figures show millions of cubic meters of forest.

Hot and dry summers with little rainfall cause the groundwater level to drop while the air becomes drier. The trees are not able to suck up water from the ground. The cleavage openings are closed. Growth is stalling.

Not concerned

The research has taken place at SLU's experimental area at Svartberget in Västerbotten. The researchers believe that the increasingly drier air is an effect of climate change. But the forest products company SCA, which is Europe's largest private forest owner, is not so concerned about the downward trend.

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Listen to SCA's Forest Management Manager comment on the research.

Stressed trees

The Swedish Forest Agency sees major risks with the development of the forest.

"Drought means that the trees become stressed, it slows growth and reduces the opportunity for the trees to defend themselves," says Tobias Eliasson at the Swedish Forest Agency in Sundsvall.

Since 2018, 32 million cubic meters of spruce have been killed by the pest insect spruce bark beetle, partly an effect of drought.