The last ice age ended in Scandinavia about 15 000 years ago. The land was gradually occupied by present tree species. Human settlement followed the vegetation. The first forest uses were hunting and gathering. Animal husbandry and forest grazing came later. Shifting cultivation was a wide spread form of agriculture, especially in Sweden and Finland. Wood was first used for domestic purposes and for construction, In the 18th century, wood became a commercial product. Overcutting, grazing and agricultural cultivation caused deforestation and degradation of forests. These problems accelerated the creation of forest policy.
The principles of sustained yield wood production were first applied in Scandinavia in the 18th century. In the 19th century, forests became a source of raw material for the forest industry. Recently, increasing urbanization has created the need for renewed contact with nature and led to the development of modern multiple-use forestry management. A general trend in the definitions has been a move away from the listing of products and functions to defining problems and setting goals. Also the components of multiple use have changed. The new objectives of forest management include carbon sequestration and preservation of biological diversity.
Nowadays, multiple use is regularly mentioned in policy programs and action plans. Recently, international agreements on sustainable forestry have given a new demanding context to the expertise obtained in the field of multiple use. Realization of the ideals of ecologically, economically and socially sustainable multiple-use forestry requires adjustments in practical forestry as well as development of new forest policy practices.
Sustainability has been the leading principle in forestry for centuries. The goal of forest management has been to organise timber harvesting schedule according to the forest growth potential in order to maintain a continuous flow of timber production. Consequently, multi-dimensional aspects of sustainability were included in forest management. At the global level, the Brundtland report (1987) brought forward the concept of sustainable development which means a development meeting the needs of the present without jeopardising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (UNCED), both forests and forestry have been added to the international agenda because of concerns about the sustainability of forests regarding biodiversity and its economic and social contribution to the development of the local communities.
Not only the forest production but also the whole set of production chains using forest resources should be evaluated in sustainability impact assessments of Forest-Wood Chains. FWCs consist of sets of processes by which forestry resources are converted into services and products.
- Teacher: Sebastian Klisz