The raw material for our paper production comes from forests. By sustainably managing those forests, we preserve ecosystems for people and wildlife – and help to mitigate climate change.
The forest is the source of all paper. Every last sheet of paper, every page of a newspaper or magazine, is created naturally in forests by sun, rain and wind. This even applies to recycled paper, because recycled fibres were, in their first life, also fresh wood that had grown in a tree. As a recycled product, they are in a sense already living their second, third or fourth life.
For almost 200 years, forest wood has provided the raw material for paper production: cellulose. UPM Communication Papers is also aware of the forest's role as a habitat for animals, as a guarantor of biodiversity and an important CO2 reservoir, and as a place where people go to seek rest and recreation. That is why we source the raw material for our products exclusively from sustainable management of the company's own forests, as well as private and state-owned forests. The wood we process into paper is 100% legally traded and traceable through FSC and PEFC supply chain assurance.
Forests benefit from thinning
For us, sustainable forest management means that we take the protection of the ecosystems into account, when intervening in the forest. To achieve this – in Central Europe in particular – we use the method known as thinning, in which trees are not removed wholesale across an area, but only in a selective way.
The decision about which trees to fell is made by the responsible foresters based on the question of which felling contributes to what extent to maintaining the many functions of the forest, such as species protection, recreation or water conservation. Thinning also increases the robustness of the forest against pests or weather influences, because the mix of tree species and the structuring of the forest in terms of different height and age layers can be actively influenced.
Thinning contributes to the stabilization of the forest ecosystem – increasingly important in view of climate change and rising temperatures. This harvesting method also leads to forests being able to absorb and store more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – and helps to counteract climate change.
UPM plants 50 million seedlings per year
Augsburg's city forest is a good example of how thinning works. The area, which covers more than 2,000 hectares and serves as a local recreation facility, as well as playing an important role in the region's drinking water supply, is one of UPM Communication Papers' domestic wood suppliers. The valuable raw material is harvested in close cooperation with the local forestry authorities – and with extreme care. Many people have the idea that whole forests are cut down for us, leaving bare open spaces behind. This is definitely not the case in Central Europe.
Paper wood is a by-product of the cultivation of trees whose future lies in their use as wood for construction and furniture. The trees are not felled in one big sweep, but gradually throughout the year. UPM Communication Papers also mainly uses trees that no longer have a prospect of growth and whose condition is unsuitable for the construction and furniture industries. For us as a paper manufacturer, smaller trees with a lesser trunk circumference are good enough.
Incidentally, UPM plants 50 million saplings a year, which amounts to four seedlings for every one that we use. That, too, represents sustainability for us.