Forestry Journal travelled to Sweden for the return of ‘the world’s forestry fair’ last month.

The presence of over 270 exhibitors from 22 countries ensured there was an incredible amount to see. Here are a few highlights. 

NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles we will publish over the coming days. 

THE sun shone on the forests of Bratteborg, near Jönköping in Sweden, for the opening of Elmia Wood last month. Last held in 2017, the world’s largest forestry fair was due to return in 2021 but the COVID-19 pandemic forced its postponement to 2022. After a long wait, the gates finally opened on Thursday, 2nd June.

Sweden’s Minister for Rural Affairs, Anna-Caren Sätherberg, welcomed visitors with the words: “The importance of forests for the economy, jobs, climate and recreation cannot be underestimated. That’s why a forum like this, where we can come together and discuss the future of forests, is so important. It is an honour to declare Elmia Wood 2022 open!”

Forestry Journal: The Wood Let’s Talk venue attracted many people to sit and listen to debates and lectures on the theme of innovation in the woods.The Wood Let’s Talk venue attracted many people to sit and listen to debates and lectures on the theme of innovation in the woods.

Over the next three days, nearly 26,000 visitors walked the extensive trail that took them to over 270 exhibitors from 22 different countries. Across its 30-year history, Elmia Wood has earned a reputation as the place to go to discover new machines and fresh thinking. This year’s show offered plenty of both, with the focus on innovative and sustainable forestry methods for the future.

Some new elements introduced for the 2022 fair changed its dynamic slightly, putting more emphasis on debate, discussion and creative thinking. A new meeting place, Wood Square, was established at the heart of the forest trail, including a stage, restaurant and areas to socialise, designed to be the perfect place to make contacts and do deals.

Here, visitors could sit and listen in on Wood Let’s Talk, a series of interviews and debates (some in Swedish, some in English) with leaders of Sweden’s political parties, government ministers and forestry experts, discussing routes towards a more progressive, sustainable industry. Topics included the EU’s taxonomy, the climate, biodiversity and fossil-free forest management. 

Forestry Journal: Visitors follow the trail of the Wood Innovation Loop.Visitors follow the trail of the Wood Innovation Loop.

Another new feature was the Wood Innovation Loop – a smaller trail branching off the main one, with various stations offering information about topics such as forestry rotation periods and pest control.

One pest in particular dominated discussions and inspired new methods of control. Ips typographus, the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle, is one of the most serious pests in European spruce forests – with Sweden no exception. When spruce bark beetles get under the bark, they simultaneously cut off the nutrient supply, which causes the tree to die.

UK foresters concerned about the beetle’s presence in England (where it has been establishing a foothold in the South East) might have been interested to learn about SnifferDogs, a company using highly trained dogs to locate bark beetles for private forest owners and companies in Sweden, saving tens of thousands of trees each year.

Forestry Journal: SnifferDogs is a Swedish company using highly trained dogs to locate bark beetles.SnifferDogs is a Swedish company using highly trained dogs to locate bark beetles.

Field trials, conducted in collaboration with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Swedish Forest Agency, found dogs can search large areas much more quickly than humans, detecting and locating a newly attacked spruce at a distance of up to 100 metres, right from the start of the infestation. 

At the Drone Zone, visitors could meet Claes Åhlin and Henrik Falk, programmers at Linköping-based Global Forester. Together with their colleagues, they have developed a drone flight programme that makes it easier for those who need to inventory damage, plan tracts, create forest management plans or carry out post-harvest inspections of forest areas. One of the main uses of the programme is to detect bark beetles, which with drones can be done very quickly.

Forestry Journal: Elda is a Dutch shepherd dog doing just that. Elda is a Dutch shepherd dog doing just that.

However, this was just one of many technological innovations on display at a fair bursting with new products. Though the major machine manufacturers were conspicuous by their absence from the show – all committing to Swedish Forestry Expo in 2023 instead – there was still plenty of large-scale machinery in evidence.

Neuson’s new tracked harvester, the 264 HVT, was a massive draw. Though it wasn’t shown working, the static version on its stand attracted constant crowds throughout the event. 

Capable of harvesting mature trees up to 95 cm in diameter, the machine boasts maximum power of 309 hp and one of the strongest parallel cranes on the market, capable of handling harvester heads over 2,000 kg.

Forestry Journal: Getting a good picture of Neuson’s new tracked harvester was a challenge with all the crowds.Getting a good picture of Neuson’s new tracked harvester was a challenge with all the crowds.

The Finnish machine manufacturer ProSilva also had a presence, showcasing its robust 16-tonne S3 harvester, available both in 4- and 6-wheel versions and marketed as ‘the smart buy’.

Sales director Norbert Schalkx said: “This is actually our smallest model. We have three bigger. It has a three-frame structure. Based on the model, we can have a bigger and stronger front frame so we can install bigger cranes, bigger heads. Or we can do other things, like put bigger wheels or pendulum arms on the back. But all the models have the same engine and same pumps. If you want to do things a little bit differently than the rest, this might be your machine of choice. Because of the layout and design, we believe the maintenance cost is really low. Plus, we believe we are one of the most environmentally friendly.”

Profi Production, a firm which began in Finland but is now located in Sweden, demonstrated the Profi 54 harvester. Lighter than most harvesters of its size, it weighs between 14 and 16 tonnes depending on equipment and has a low centre of gravity, ensuring it’s small but sturdy in the woods.

Profi’s Jan-Olov Viklund said: “It’s a very good machine for thinning and light harvesting. It is a small machine with big muscles – very stable and very smooth. It’s also between five and seven tonnes lighter than competing machines of the same size. It’s great to be able to come out and show it to people.”