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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Availability of Biomass for Energy Purposes in Nordic and Baltic Countries: Land Areas and Biomass Amounts

Rytter, Lars; Andreassen, Kjell; Bergh, Johan; Ekö, Per-Magnus; Grönholm, Tiia; Kilpeläinen, Antti; Lazdiņa, Dagnija; Muiste, Peeter; Nord-Larsen, Thomas


This review compiles information on the current state of the forests and analyses the potential of forest fuels for energy purposes in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia. In these countries the forest area is 61 mill. ha, corresponding to 52% of the land areas, which is high in a European perspective where 38% of the land area is forest (EU-27). Although some forest areas are protected, 75-92% of the area can still be used for wood production. Further, substantial agriculture land areas may also be available for production of biomass for energy. Coniferous species dominate the forests in Finland, Norway and Sweden, while a more even distribution of conifers and deciduous species is found in Denmark, Estonia and Latvia. The total growing stock is around 7,400 mill. m(3) and the annual increment is estimated to about 275 mill. m(3) yr(-1)Annual growth currently exceeds annual harvest, leading to the conclusion that some of the difference may be used for energy purposes in the near future. The current potential for forest fuel resources was estimated to 230-410 TWh yr(-1) (830-1,480 PJ yr(-1)) for the countries included and forest fuels will thus be of utmost importance for the future energy supply in the area.A changing climate with larger standing volumes may affect the future growth positively and increase the potential harvest levels. Estimates from Finland, Sweden and Norway show an average growth increase of over 30% by the end of the century and substantially higher for specific regions.Wood is extensively used for energy purposes and the forests hold a large potential for increasing the production of renewable energy. The potential may be further increased in the future with increased fertilization, extended breeding for enhanced biomass production, larger cultivation areas and changes of tree species and management systems.


annual forest growth; available land areas for forest; biomass availability; forest fuels; climate change effects; energy use; forestry regulations; growing stock; harvest potential of forest fuels; Nordic and Baltic countries

Published in

Baltic Forestry
2015, volume: 21, number: 2, pages: 375-390

Authors' information

Rytter, Lars
Forestry Research Institute of Sweden, Skogforsk
Andreassen, Kjell
Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute
Bergh, Johan
Linnaeus University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Grönholm, Tiia
Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Kilpeläinen, Antti
Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Lazdiņa, Dagnija
Latvian State Forest Research Institute "Silava"
Muiste, Peeter
Estonian University of Life Sciences
Nord-Larsen, Thomas
University of Copenhagen

Associated SLU-program

SLU Future Forests

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science
Forest Science

URI (permanent link to this page)