Sweden’s forest industry has prepared a defense against critics who say trees should be left in the forest to bind carbon and help fight climate change.

At the heart of the conflict is the European Union’s need to regulate sustainable activities across the bloc, where forest-based carbon sinks are on average declining, in net terms. That has prompted concerns that forestry accumulates a so-called carbon debt because trees take several decades to grow back.

In densely forested Sweden, the industry is keen to show trees are, overall, sequestering more carbon dioxide than is released. The companies, who make their profit from pulp, packaging and timber, commissioned a study that shows a bigger climate benefit from cutting trees than reducing or halting harvests.

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