Forest technology cluster aims for a fossil-free Sweden
The forest technology cluster is developing new technologies for tomorrow's forestry. Since the start in 2010, sustainability has been in focus. These may include new technical solutions that can reduce environmental footprint and improve the working environment for those working in the forest, but also gender equality, which is an important part of making the forest industry socially sustainable and attractive to all.
The forest engineering cluster has ten member companies and facilitates, among other things, world-leading research-driven projects. Advanced technology and a gentle work with the forest is part of the solution to replace fossil products and move towards a fossil-free Sweden, is one of the conclusions they have drawn from their work.
Why is it important for the Forest Technical Cluster to work with sustainability?
"We want to switch to a fossil-free Sweden and a fossil-free industry in order to meet the climate goals. We must use forests as a resource to replace the fossil products used today, and then growth in forests must increase, while at the same time managing forestry in a gentle and sustainable way. New technical solutions come in there; Among other things, we want to reduce road damage in the soil, reduce the proportion of surface area affected in soil preparation for rejuvenation and more efficiently plant new plants that will grow further," says Linda Nyström, CEO of the Forest Technical Cluster.
"But sustainability is also about people. Forests are a very important industry in Sweden and we need more manpower. By making diversity and gender equality a naturalpartity in the industry, we can make it attractive for everyone to work in.
What do you hope to achieve together with the other companies and organisations in the collaboration platform Viable Business Hub?
"If there are more of us who work for the same thing, we can learn from each other and create something good together. We can tell each other, invite actors who broaden our knowledge and who complement with excellence. There's only added value! Within the Forest Technical Cluster, we have worked a lot with gender equality, and we are happy to spread this knowledge to other industries. I hope that what we create together will be sharp, concrete cases that will help us take the big steps forward towards a fossil-free Sweden, says Linda Nyström.
How can you contribute to or support companies in making sustainability pay/be profitable?
"Of course, we wish that customers would only want what is sustainable, but that is not the case. Our companies have an international market and many countries are far behind Sweden's sustainability goals. This is an important discussion with us, linked to research. It will cost companies to adjust their businesses to become more sustainable, but that is the only way to achieve climate goals.
–Then you have to look at other values – sustainability strengthens your brand and you become more attractive as an employer. For the younger generation, who will be our colleagues in the long term, the sustainability issue is important and they will place significantly higher demands on their employers than we do today. The companies that are setting towards a more sustainable way of working strengthen their brand and can set an example for others!
What successes have you had so far in your sustainability work?
"Right now we are working with many interesting sustainable and technical solutions. The challenges that we have captured from society, businesses and people working in the forest industry lie at the root. By connecting researchers, forest technology companies and start-up's, we find solutions. Although not all solutions are in place today, we are working progressively together to get there, always with the sustainability mindset in the spine. I see this as a success," says Linda Nyström.
What are the important challenges that we can tackle together and find solutions tothe 'European Union'.
"An important issue is labour. If we are to continue to operate in northern Sweden, we must attract employees who want to work here. It is also important to show how broad we have in the labour market in our region. There are more traditional professions, but also many new areas of work where some are really high tech. In addition, there are many exciting innovations that can be involved in the creation of, for example, remote controlled or autonomous machines.
"In addition to technical solutions, we have gender equality and diversity. How are we going to weigh that into the future, sustainable factory? It is important that we continue to work to make all employees feel comfortable in their workplaces. In this way we can get good ambassadors who attract more people to our workplaces," says Linda Nyström.