Publiceret 18.03 2024

Q&A: Questions about forestry

- and the green transition 

A large majority of people believe that forests are important for the climate. And even more people like wood as a material, for example in the home. At the same time, 20 % believe that too much wood is harvested in Denmark - and 16 % believe that the production of wood directly harms nature.

When the Partnership for Danish Forestry conducted an opinion poll among Danes in 2023, it was clear that the forestry industry has an important task: to communicate the connection between the trees in the forest and wood as a renewable resource that contributes to the green transition.

Therefore, the parties, Hedeselskabet, Dansk Skovforening, Træ- og Møbelindustrien and Skovdyrkerne, launched an information campaign. The support has been great, and the process is in full swing.

VÆKST has asked Rasmus Willumsen, forester and head of department at HedeDanmark, to elaborate on the need for more information in 2024:

- Interest in the forest has increased significantly, and this is due to all the important agendas for climate, biodiversity, sustainability, self-sufficiency, groundwater and outdoor life. The forest plays a role in all parameters. Many people have an opinion about the forest - and there is a large mixed choir of wishes, ideas and opinions on how the forest is used and managed.

As a large forest manager, we think it's important to have the facts on the table. You can have opinions, but they need to be based on facts. Therefore, there is a need to educate the general public about forestry.

What is the biggest misconception you encounter about forestry?
- There are really two big misconceptions. One is that you can only use the forest for one thing. Many people have a very one-sided view of what they think is most important. But you can grow wood, increase self-sufficiency and at the same time do something for the climate and biodiversity.

In Denmark, we import around 70-75 % of all the raw wood we use. Therefore, we need to produce more ourselves, and we also absorb more CO2, especially when we produce more high-quality wood. We want to increase the proportion of wood that is used for something long-lasting, where you get the big substitution effect. Wood embedded in a home for 50 or 70 years binds CO2 for just as long. We also have areas in the forest without production where we improve biodiversity.

That's the multi-sidedness we're working on from our side and trying to bring into the debate and say; it's not an either-or, it's a both-and.

The other big misconception is that it's a sin to grow forests. But by removing the weakened and unhealthy individuals among the trees, we ensure that the forest is healthy - and the remaining trees don't grow smaller, as some people believe. Quite the contrary. 

Some people have an inherent resistance to touching nature. There may be machine operators who get shouted at for cutting down a tree, which is a bit of an unfortunate misconception.

Why do these misconceptions persist in an age of information?
- Because we are drowning in information - and we do this in two ways.We can find the in-depth knowledge about the big, complicated contexts that this is all about, but very few people have the time to read it.

We are also drowning in all the one-liners and short posts on social media.That's why it's a bit black and white, with everyone standing on their own right.


Is that really the biggest challenge?
- Yes, it's the battle for people's time and attention.When we're in the woods with people and there's time to show and explain what we do, most people think it makes sense.They may still have an opinion on how much or how little should be cut down, and that's fair enough. 

I can understand that these misconceptions are out there, because I probably have them myself about subjects I don't know anything about or haven't properly familiarised myself with.


What happens after the campaign - are the misconceptions eradicated?
- This is a long haul. But the campaign is a way of reaching a broad audience across the country with the story and creating an understanding that if you think it's positive to use wood, then it's also okay to cut down trees.

It is also our hope that the campaign will not stand alone. It should also create curiosity, dialogue and debate. If we can start a dialogue with those who think it's a shame to cultivate the forest, we will have really come a long way.