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Nordic forest industry making push to diversify in 2014


September 10, 2014
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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The revival of the softwood fiber-based forest industry in the Nordic countries has been especially noticeable in 2014, with investment plans of US$3 billion dollars in pulp, bio-energy and biomaterials, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly…

The revival of the softwood fiber-based forest industry in the Nordic countries has been especially noticeable in 2014, with investment plans of US$3 billion dollars in pulp, bio-energy and biomaterials, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ).

The pulp and paper industry in the Nordic countries has started to see a new dawn with a growing demand for pulp and paper products made from long wood fiber from the vast conifer forests in Northern Europe, the publication suggests. Over the past few months, there have been a number of announcements in investments made by forest companies in Finland, Norway and Sweden totaling close to US$3 billion dollars.

The primary end-products will be softwood market pulp and virgin fibre-based container board, but major investments are also being consider in increasing theutilization of forest biomass for energy on a larger scale. Although the investment decisions have not been finalized for all projects, these ruminations are a sign that the forest industry in this part of the world sees the future in a much brighter light than just a few years ago, says WRQ.

In addition to the investments in the pulp and paper industry, WRQ reports that there has been an announcement that the Swedish forest owner federation Sodra, together with the Norwegian energy company Statkraft, Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy, intends to establish an biofuel conglomerate at the site of the now closed pulpmill in Tofte, just south of the capital Oslo.

In Finland, Metsä Fiber has plans to invest US$1.5 billion in a plant that will produce softwood pulp, renewable bioenergy and what the company categorizes as “various biomaterials”.

According to WRQ, some of the factors that have placed softwood fiber in a new positive light are: limited investments in the establishments of softwood plantations worldwide, favorable global supply/demand balance for softwood pulp over hardwood pulp, (if you are a pulp

manufacturer), increased demand for packaging material requiring wood fiber with high strength, and a rise in research in new products made from trees, sometimes as substitutes to non-renewable materials such as plastic and metal.

These recent developments in the Nordic countries may very well be the beginning of the biggest transformation of the softwood fiber-based forest industry we have seen in decades, not only in Northern Europe but in other regions of the world as well where coniferous forests is the dominant forest-type, states the publication.

Wood Resource Quarterly provides global pulpwood and timber market reporting.