Nursery forest plants. Foto: Michael Ekstrand

Forest seedlings delivered for planting

Here you find statistics on forest seedlings delivered for planting. We publish the results by tree species, method of production and by origin of seedlings and use of plant protection.

On a yearly basis since 1998 the Swedish Forest Agency make a survey about produced seedlings for usage in Sweden. The questionnaire is sent to all companies registered at the Swedish Forest Agency as producers or dealers with seedlings. Forest seedlings delivered for planting refers to the plants that have been delivered for use (planting) in Sweden.

Forest seedlings delivered for planting in 2023

In 2023, 431 million forest seedlings were delivered, which is an increase of 9 million (2 percent) from 2022. Compared to the peak in year 2021 however, it is just over 21 million less.

Increase in delivered seedlings in 2023

The amount of delivered seedlings of Scots pine has increased steadily for many years. In 2023 delivered seedlings of Scots pine was 236 million, which was an increase of 7 million seedlings (3 percent), compared to 2022. The number of delivered seedlings of Norway spruce was just over 176 million in 2023, which is unchanged compared to 2022.

Delivered seedlings of birch (3,2 million) increased by 37 percent, compared to 2022. That is an increase of 77 percent compared to 2021. Delivered seedlings of other broadleaf species (1.4 million) decreased by 6 percent compared to 2022.

Delivered seedlings of other coniferous species increased by 28 percent, compared to 2022. The amount of delivered seedlings of Larch and Sitka spruce decreased by 3 and 44 percent respectively, compared to 2022. However, none of these tree species make up more than 1.1 percent of the total quantity of delivered seedlings in 2023.

Delivered seedlings of Lodgepole pine increased by 1.7 million plants (25 percent) in 2023 after a relatively large decline in 2022.

Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden

In 2020, Scots pine (54.8 percent) took over the position from Norway spruce (40.9 percent) as the most common tree species among delivered forest plants and continues to increase its share. Delivered seedlings of Norway spruce and Scots pine together constitute 96 percent of the total number of delivered forest seedlings for planting. Delivered seedlings of Lodgepole pine represent 1.9 percent and larch 1.1 percent. Sitka spruce, birch and seedlings of other conifers and broadleaf species each make up less than 0.8 percent of the number of delivered forest seedlings.

However, the above mentioned proportions do not indicate how the tree species are distributed in the future forest. For example, a significant part of Scots pine and almost all birch and most of other broadleaf trees in the forest have been rejuvenated naturally

Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden

Container-rooted dominates method of production

Container-rooted is the dominant method of production for forest seedlings. In 2023, container-rooted seedlings accounted for 90 percent of all delivered forest seedlings. Bare-rooted seedlings amounted to 6 percent.

From 2019, a new category called hybrid seedling can be reported as method of production. In 2023, a total of 4 percent of delivered forest seedlings were produced as hybrid seedlings.

Scots Pine and Lodgepole pine are almost exclusively produced as container-rooted seedlings. The proportion of Norway spruce seedlings that were produced using container-rooted method of production in 2023 was 79 percent.

Among conifers, 73 percent of other conifers are produced as bare root (including hybrid seedlings), 89 percent of Sitka spruce, 57 percent of larch, 21 percent of Norway spruce and only 1 percent of Scots pine. In 2023, 93 percent of other broadleaved trees and 62 percent of birch were produced as bare-rooted seedlings.

Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden
Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden

Propagation methods for forest plants

As of 2019, it is reported whether delivered forest plants have been propagated from seed or propagated vegetatively. Overall, delivered seedlings of conifers are propagated from seed to almost 100 percent and the vegetatively propagated proportion is very small.

Vegetative propagation of delivered seedlings is mainly applied to broad-leaved tree species. In 2023, 18 percent of the delivered seedlings of broad-leaved trees were vegetatively propagated. Of these, mainly hybrid aspen and poplar are propagated vegetatively.

Mechanical protection of seedlings larger than unprotected

The proportion of seedlings that are delivered with some form of protection against beetles (mechanical or chemical) has increased since 2016. In 2023, 71, 45 and 10 percent of the delivered seedlings of Norway spruce, Scots pine and Lodgepole pine respectively were equipped with beetle protection. The use of insecticides decreased to 1 percent of the delivered seedlings of Norway spruce and 1 percent of the delivered seedlings of Scots pine.

The proportion of mechanically protected seedlings has increased from 17 percent in 2014 to around 50 percent in the last three years. During the past four years the proportion of chemically protected seedlings has been almost 3 percent. It is not possible to use these statistics to distinguish where in the country protected and unprotected plants are used.

Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden
Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden

Mainly Swedish origin for seedlings

Seeds are divided into seeds from forest stands and plantation seeds from specially designed seed plantations (seed farms).

The majority (88 percent) of the delivered forest seedlings in 2023 came from plantation seed from Swedish seed plantations. This is an increase by 4 percent compared to 2022. Seeds from Swedish and foreign forest stands accounted for 1 and 3 percent, respectively. Foreign plantation seed accounted for 8 percent of the origin of the delivered forest seedlings.

The use of seed from forest stands has decreased and the use of plantation seed has increased since origin was included in the survey. Regarding tree species, Scots pine and Lodgepole pine mainly originated from plantation seeds with Swedish origin (by 96 and 98 percent).

Of the delivered seedlings of Norway spruce, 82 percent came from Swedish seed plantations, which is an increase compared to 74 percent in 2022. In 2023,6 percent of the delivered seedlings of Norway spruce originated from seeds from foreign forest stands and 11 percent from foreign plantation seed, to be compared with 12 and 9 percent respectively in 2022.

The use of plantation seed of foreign origin has decreased for larch, Sitka spruce and other conifers in recent years. Instead, Swedish plantation seed and foreign stock seed are used to a greater extent. For details regarding the tree species, see figure 7 below.

Of the delivered seedlings of birch in 2023, 38 percent came from plantation seed with Swedish origin and 56 percent had foreign origin. The proportion of birch from Swedish seed plantations decreased by almost 11 percent, while seedlings from foreign seed plantations increased by 9 percent compared to 2022. As for other broad-leaved trees, 38 percent originated from foreign seed, which is a decrease from 45 percent in 2022. Plants that originated from Swedish and foreign plantation seed accounted for 30 and 23 percent respectively of the plants of other broad-leaved trees.

Logotype Official Statistics of Sweden

Forest seedlings and seeds imported to Sweden

The figures below are based on data from 2004 until 2022. The two-year backlog is a consequence of the Swedish Forestry Agency's registration of the import of seedlings and seeds. These data are not part of the official statistics on delivered forest seedlings.

Within the EU, there is free trade for forest seedlings and seeds. However, there is an obligation to notify the import and export of seedlings and seeds, to the Swedish Forestry Agency. The import of forest seedlings and seeds from countries outside the EU is permitted for certain countries, such as Norway. For these countries there is an obligation regarding both a notification as well as a permission.

Seedlings and seeds brought into Sweden from other countries can, but do not have to, have their origin in the sending country. A significant part of imported material is of Swedish origin, but some step in the production has taken place in another country.

Import of seedlings

In 2022, 58.9 million seedlings were brought into Sweden from other countries. This means that approximately 14 percent of the seedlings delivered in 2022 (422 ​​million plants in total) were at least partially produced outside Sweden. However, it is unclear whether the plants were considered delivered in the same year as they were imported.

In 2022, most seedlings were brought to Sweden from the Nordic and the Baltic countries (63 percent). Seedlings from the rest of Europe accounted for 37 percent of the imports. In the long term, the import of forest seedlings has decreased from the rest of Europe and increased from the Nordic and the Baltic countries. See figure 8 in the pdf file below.

The import of seedlings is dominated by Norway spruce (except for year 2008 and 2013), which accounted for over 80 percent of the total import of seedlings. However, the proportion of Norway spruce seedlings in 2021 was the lowest since registration started and has continued to decrease in 2022 (65,2 percent). Hence Scots pine has increased and now accounts for 21.4 percent of the share of imported seedlings, which is the highest share of Scots pine since the registration started. Of the other tree species, larch is the most common. See figure 9 in the pdf file below.

Import of seeds

The import of seed varies greatly over time, both in terms of quantity and tree species. The total import of seeds in 2022 were 271 kilograms.

The statistics refer to seedlings and seeds for use in Sweden.

  • Last Updated: 5/9/2023