Sweden to support forest industry following historic summer wildfires

A fire burning outside Hammarstrand, central Sweden on July 16th. Firefighters are battling blazes in Norrbotten, Lapland and the Kola Peninsula, in addition to fires in other regions. (Mats Andersson/AFP/Getty Images)
Three hundred large forest fires scorching 21,000 hectares of land but this summer’s intense heatwave triggered fewer fires than expected, said a report by the Swedish Forest Agency (Skogsstyrelsen) on Tuesday.

The government authority recommended SEK 72 million in support should be paid to Dalarna, Gävleborg and Jämtland, the three counties where 85 percent of forest fires occurred.

It said the financial support should be split between the 323 forestry owners who face the increased costs of felling and transporting fire damaged trees and other areas such as road and border repairs.

“The summer fires put pressure on the forestry sector and also caused personal tragedies. We estimate that the support we are proposing will have a mitigating effect and at the same time will stimulate moves to remove the wood from the forest quickly before a mass influx of harmful insects can destroy the timber,” said Herman Sundqvist, Director General of the Forestry Agency to Sveriges Radio.

The government gave the agency the task of investigating the extent of the damage caused by the prolonged summer heatwave which sparked numerous major wildfires across the country. It found that 21,000 hectares of commerical forests were destroyed compared to the 25,000 the government had forecast.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Residents of Lower Post, Northern Canada clean up after wildfires, CBC News

Finland: Cities in Finland and Sweden among Europe’s fastest-warming, data shows, Yle News

Norway: Arctic Europe’s July records melted under extreme temperatures, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Forest fires are raging across the Barents region, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Indigenous reindeer herders request emergency aid after drought, wildfires ravage Sweden, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Most of Alaska’s active wildfires pose no threat, authorities say, Alaska Public Media

David Russell, Radio Sweden

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