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How many trees can Norway cut down?


Photo: Ragnar Våga Pedersen.

In a collaboration with the Norwegian Environment Agency, NIBIO has performed extensive calculations as a basis for how to incorporate forestry in the climate agreement between Norway and the EU.

The calculations describe how many trees can be felled in Norwegian forests in the coming years. The EU regulations for the forestry and land use sector indicate how emissions and sequestration from the categories of managed forests, newly afforested land, deforested land, pastureland, cultivated land and wetlands must be calculated and counted toward the commitment. The overall goal for the forestry and land use sector is for emissions and sequestration to achieve net zero.

Emissions and sequestration from managed forests—which means forests that are felled and regenerated—are to be measured up against a reference trajectory. The level of felling is the most important individual factor affecting this reference trajectory. Felling that is higher than the reference trajectory could take our calculated emissions from forests above net zero. If felling is lower, our calculated sequestration could count toward a reduction in emissions.

NIBIO and the Norwegian Environment Agency have submitted six scenarios for the reference trajectory for managed forests based on two approaches. The government concluded that Norway’s reference trajectory should be the ‘Finland 9’ scenario. The average annual felling level for the 2021–2030 period at the selected reference trajectory is around 16 billion cubic meters. The felling level in the reference trajectory must be reduced by around 8 percent—including deductions for crowns and wood that cannot be sold—to be comparable with Statistics Norway’s felling statistics. This makes the comparable felling level in the reference trajectory approximately 14.5 million cubic meters.

According to Statistics Norway, the felling level in 2017 was 12.5 million cubic meters, including wood. To compare the felling level in Statistics Norway’s statistics with the reference trajectory, timber from deforestation must be deducted. This means that, in 2017, felling in the managed forest category was 11.8 million cubic meters.