IAS 41, policies, IFRS 13 disclosures biological assets, risks, forestry

Stora Enso Oyj – Annual report – 31 December 2021

Industry: agriculture

Note 2 Critical accounting estimates and judgements

Biological assets

The Group has biological assets in subsidiaries, joint operations and associated company. Biological assets, in the form of standing trees, are accounted in accordance with the IAS 41 Agriculture standard, which requires that the assets are measured at fair value less the costs to sell. Fair value is determined by using discounted cash flows from continuous operations based on sustainable forest management plans taking into account the growth potential of one cycle. These discounted cash flows require estimates of growth, harvesting, sales price, costs and discount rate. In determining the value of biological assets, the management needs to make appropriate estimates of future price levels and trends for sales and costs, and to undertake regular surveys of the forest to establish the volumes of wood available for harvesting and their current growth rates.

See next chapter for estimates and judgement applied in valuation of Swedish forest assets and Note 12 Forest assets for more detailed information about Nordic and plantation forest assets.

Swedish forest assets

The fair value of forest assets in Sweden is determined using a market approach method, which is based on the forest market transactions in the areas where Stora Enso’s forests are located. Market prices between areas vary significantly and judgement is applied to define relevant areas for market transactions used in valuation. The valuation of the forest assets is based on detailed transaction data and price statistics as provided by different market data suppliers. Market transaction data is adjusted to consider characteristics and nature of Stora Enso’s forest assets and to exclude certain non-forest assets and transactions considered as outliers compared to other transactions. The valuation takes into account where the forest land is located, price levels and volume of standing stock. The value of the forest assets will be affected by changes in transaction prices and by how the volume of standing stock develops. Stora Enso is applying weighted three-year average market transaction prices and this is considered to include a sufficient amount of transactions and estimated to represent market conditions at the reporting date.

The value of the forest assets is allocated to biological assets and forest land. Allocation of the combined fair value of forest assets is based on the income approach where separate present values of expected net cash flows are calculated for both biological assets and forest land. The discount rate is determined as the rate at which the valuation based on market transaction prices matches the total forest assets combined cash flows for biological assets and forest land. The total net cash flows for each of the components include estimates in respect of future harvesting volumes, sales price levels, and cost development. See Note 12 Forest assets for more information.

Note 12 Forest assets

Accounting principles

The forest assets of Stora Enso are defined as standing growing trees, classified as biological assets, and related forest land. The biological assets of Stora Enso consist of standing trees to be used as raw material in pulp and mechanical wood production and as biofuels.

Forest asset valuation is based on continuous operations and sustainable forest management, also taking into consideration environmental restrictions and other reservations. Biological assets are recognised and valued in accordance with the IAS 41 Agriculture standard at fair value and forest land assets are recognised in accordance with the IAS 16 Property, plant and equipment standard. Leased forest land assets are presented as part of right-of-use assets in Note 11 Intangible assets, property, plant and equipment, and right-of-use assets.

Nordic and plantation forest assets are classified as different classes of assets due to different nature, usage and characteristics of the assets. The main difference is the short-term growing cycle of 6–12 years in plantations versus the long-term growing cycle of 60–100 years in Nordic forests. There are also differences in regeneration methods, forest management, and the use of the assets for other purposes.

Nordic forest assets include holdings in Sweden and Finland (also including minor forest asset holdings in Estonia and Romania) and plantation forest assets include holdings in China, Brazil and Uruguay. Accounting policies for the different class of forest assets are presented separately below. The Group has forest assets in its own subsidiaries in Sweden and China as well as in joint operations in Brazil and Uruguay, and in equity accounted investment in Finland. Stora Enso also ensures that the Group’s share of the valuation of forest holdings in equity accounted investments and joint operations are consistent with Group accounting policies. At harvesting, biological assets are transferred to the inventory.

Nordic forest assets

Forest assets in Sweden are recognised at fair value and valued by using a market approach method on the basis of the forest market transactions in the areas where Stora Enso’s forests are located. Stora Enso’s forest assets create value by securing wood supply, increasing long-term yield, optimising land use and securing financial flexibility. They play an important role in mitigating climate change impacts, as growing trees absorb CO2. The forests also offer opportunities for future value streams, such as wind power.

The total forest assets value is calculated with verified inventory data and regional standing stock prices, considering among others:

  • regional market transaction data based on the forest assets’ geographical locations,
  • standing stock prices by forest cubic meter (m3 fo) combined from traded forest estates and
  • regional standing stock inventory.

Information relating to forest asset transactions are available from several market sources. The market transaction information can be viewed as market-corroborated inputs. Certain adjustments are made to refine the market-corroborated inputs using unobservable inputs, therefore inputs are categorised to fair value hierarchy measurement level 3. The judgements are further explained in Note 2 Critical accounting estimates and judgements.

The total value of the forest assets in Sweden is allocated across biological assets and forest land. Allocation of the combined fair value of forest assets is based on the income approach where separate present values of expected net cash flows are calculated for both biological assets and forest land. The discount rate is determined as the rate at which the valuation based on market transaction prices matches the total forest assets combined cash flows for biological assets and forest land. The discount rate is estimated to be the same for biological assets and forest land as the nature and timing of the cash flows are similar.

Biological assets are measured at fair value in accordance IAS 41. The fair value is based on the income approach and the discounted cash flow method whereby the fair value of the biological assets is calculated using cash flows from continuous operations, taking into account the growth potential of one cycle. Forest land is measured at fair value using the revaluation method as defined in the IAS 16 standard. Fair value of forest land is measured based on income approach, including net cash flows related to trees to-be-planted in the future as well as other land related income, such as hunting rights, wind power leases and soil material sales.

Other Nordic forest assets, owned mainly in Finland through Group’s 41% shareholding in the equity accounted investment Tornator, are recognised at fair value using the income approach. The valuation of biological assets is based on the discounted cash flow method calculated using cash flows from continuous operations, taking into account the growth potential of one cycle. The forest land is measured at fair value using the revaluation method as defined in IAS 16. The forest land fair value measurement is based on the income approach and the discounted cash flow method, including cash flows from trees to-be-planted in the future as well as other related income. The discount rate applied for both biological assets and forest land is determined using the weighted average cost of capital method.

Changes in the fair value of biological assets are recognised in the income statement. Changes in the fair value of forest land, net of deferred taxes, are recognised in other comprehensive income (OCI) and accumulated in a revaluation reserve in equity. Revaluation reserve is not recycled to the income statement upon disposal. If the fair value of forest land were to be less than cost, the difference would be recognised in the income statement as an impairment loss.

Plantation forest assets

In plantation forest areas, biological assets are recognised at fair value in accordance with the IAS 41 standard and based on the income approach in those areas where the Group has forest land. Fair value measurement is based on fair value hierarchy measurement level 3. Forest land is measured initially and subsequently at cost, using the cost model as defined in IAS 16 standard.

The valuation of biological assets is based on the discounted cash flow method calculated using cash flows from continuous operations and based on sustainable forest management, taking into account growth potential of one cycle. The fair value of the biological assets is based on the productive forest land. The yearly harvest from the forecasted tree growth is multiplied by wood prices and the cost of silviculture and harvesting is then deducted. The fair value of the biological assets is measured as the present value of the harvest from one growth cycle, taking into consideration environmental restrictions and other reservations. The discount rate applied is determined using the weighted average cost of capital method.

Young standing timber less than two years old (less than three years in Montes del Plata) is considered to be an immature asset and accounted at cost. Fair value is deemed to approximate the cost when little biological transformation has taken place or the impact of the transformation on the price is not expected to be significant, which varies according to the location and species of the assets.

Changes in the fair value of biological assets are recognised in the income statement. The forest land is measured at cost and not depreciated.

The value of forest assets disclosed in the consolidated statement of financial position from subsidiary companies and joint operations amounts to EUR 6,747 (EUR 6,256) million as shown below. The Group’s indirect share of forest assets held by associated companies amounts to EUR 985 (EUR 837) million. The total forest asset value amounts to EUR 7,732 (EUR 7,093) million.

Forest assets

1 For biological assets, changes are presented in the profit and loss. For forest land, changes in fair value are recognised directly in equity.

2 The impact in 2020 is mainly due to valuation and accounting principle changes for Swedish forests.

3 Not including leased forest land.

Valuation and standing stock of forest assets in subsidiaries, joint operations and associate company

1 Forest cubic meters

2 Solid under bark (sub) cubic meters

1 Forest cubic meters

2 Solid under bark (sub) cubic meters

3 Total figures exclude minor forest ownerships in Laos and equity accounted investment Arauco Florestal Arapoti S.A. in Brazil

4 MdP productive area (ha) and biological assets per productive ha recalculated based on information received after 2020 reporting

Subsidiaries and joint operations

On 31 December 2021, forest assets (excluding leases) were located by value, in Sweden 89% (90%), China 3% (3%), Brazil 2% (1%) and Uruguay 6% (6%). The total area amounts to 1,715 (1,726) thousand hectares of which 7% (7%) is leased and under 1% (1%) is restricted. From Stora Enso’s total forest holdings 1,346 (1,356) thousand hectares is productive forest area. The Montes del Plata and Veracel amounts take into account the ownership share.

Swedish forests

At the end of 2021, the value of the biological assets in Swedish forests amounted to EUR 4,005 (EUR 3,774) million, related forest land amounted to EUR 2,012 (EUR 1,829) million and the total forest assets amounted to EUR 6,017 (EUR 5,603) million. The increase of EUR 414 million in the forest assets value is mainly driven by increased standing stock volume estimate especially for the retention forest areas as a significant portion of the forest areas were subject to laser scanning and improved inventory data as well as higher market prices. Foreign exchange impact and disposals decreased the value. Deferred tax liabilities related to forest assets amounted to EUR 1,237 (EUR 1,153) million. The discount rate of 3.5% (3.6%) was applied in the valuation.

The productive area in Swedish forests amounted to 1,141 (1,145) thousand hectares with a standing stock of 150.5 (143.0) million forest m3. The weighted three-year average market transaction price applied in the valuation for Swedish forests assets in 2021 is EUR 40 (EUR 39) per forest m3. The forest asset value corresponds to an average of EUR 5,270 (EUR 4,900) per ha of productive forest area.

The valuation of the forest assets is based on detailed transaction data and price statistics as provided by different market data suppliers. Market transaction data is adjusted to consider the characteristics and nature of Stora Enso’s forest assets and to exclude certain non-forest assets and outliers. The valuation takes into account where the forest land is located, price levels and volume of standing stock. Market prices between areas varies significantly. Future changes in value of Swedish forest assets are impacted by changes in market transaction prices and changes in volume of standing stock, considering growth and other changes. See also Note 2 for information related estimates and judgment applied in the valuation.

Forest asset location and volume

Guangxi

At the end of 2021, the value of the biological assets in Guangxi, China, amounted to EUR 200 (EUR 176) million. All the forest land in China is leased. The value increase is mainly driven by foreign exchange impact and increased volume, whereas higher costs and discount rate decreased the value. The biological assets included young standing timber with a value of EUR 33 (EUR 33) million. The discount rate of 8.6% (8.4%) used in the discounted cash flows (DCF)  increased slightly in 2021. The productive forest area in Guangxi totals to 68 (75) thousand hectares with a standing stock of 4.9 (4.2) million forest m3.

Veracel

Veracel Celulose S.A. (Veracel) is a 50% joint operation in Brazil. Stora Enso’s share of the biological assets was EUR 81 (EUR 66) million. The movement is mainly driven by increased prices, volume and growth and lower discount rate. The biological assets included young standing timber with a value of EUR 21 (EUR 22) million. The discount rate of 6.9% (8.8%) used in the DCF decreased in 2021. The related forest land is measured at cost. Stora Enso’s share of the productive forest area totals to 47 (47) thousand hectares with a standing stock of 5.0 (4.4) million forest m3.

Montes del Plata

Montes del Plata (MdP) is a 50% joint operation in Uruguay. Stora Enso’s share of the biological assets was EUR 260 (EUR 230) million. The movement is mainly driven by foreign exchange impact. The biological assets included young standing timber with a value of EUR 46 (EUR 46) million. The discount rate of 6.5% (6.5%) used in the DCF remained the same in 2021. The related forest land is measured at cost. Stora Enso’s share of the productive forest area totals to 90 (89) thousand hectares with a standing stock of 13.9 (13.0) million forest m3.

Associated companies

Tornator

Tornator Oyj (Tornator) is a 41% owned Finnish associated company. Stora Enso’s share of the biological assets was EUR 906 (EUR 769) million and the share of the forest land was EUR 78 (EUR 56) million. The increase in the fair value of biological assets is mainly driven by new growth models applied in the valuation, which are indicating that increase in the stem volume of the trees is faster than in the previous estimate as well as acquisitions, increased volume and prices. The movement in the value of forest land is mainly due to increase in other forest land related income and increase in cash flows from subsequent growth cycles. Stora Enso’s share of the productive forest area totals to 271 (269) thousand hectares with a standing stock of 32.7 (31.4) million forest m3.

Arauco Florestal Arapoti

Stora Enso’s 20% ownership in Arauco Florestal Arapoti S.A. was disposed in 2021. Stora Enso’s share of the forest assets was not significant.

Biological asset valuation sensitivities of significant assumptions of a +/- 10% movement

Swedish forest asset valuation is sensitive for changes in market transaction prices and volume of standing stock. A change in the average market price of forest assets of EUR 1 per forest m3 would impact the value of forest assets by EUR 150 (EUR 143) million. A change in the volume of standing stock of 1 million forest m3 would impact the value of forest assets by EUR 40 (EUR 39) million.

Risks and risk management (extracts)

Climate change – physical impacts

Long-term (25–30 years) changes in precipitation patterns, periods of drought, frequent extreme weather events and higher average temperatures that increase the risk of forest fires and insect outbreaks, could  cause damage to operations, forests and tree plantations, affecting forests asset values and regional wood prices. Milder winters could also have an impact on the harvesting and transport of wood and related costs in northern regions. More frequent extreme weather events also increase the risk of disruptions in the production, logistics and supply of raw materials and energy.

Mitigation measures and opportunities

Physical risks are to a great extent subject to risk transfer and thereby within the cover of Stora Enso’s property and business interruption insurance programs. With regards to forest and plantation assets, Stora Enso benefits from strategic resilience through geographical diversification within the asset portfolio. Diligent plantation planning is ensured to avoid frost sensitive areas and R&D programmes are applied to increase tolerance to extreme temperatures. Stora Enso maintains a diversity of forest types and structures and enforces diversification in wood sourcing. Wood harvesting in soft soils involves the implementation of best practices guidelines.

Nordic forests in Finland and Sweden could also benefit from increased heat summation and longer growing seasons, leading to acceleration in forest growth with direct positive impact on the value of own forest assets and an indirect impact related to market wood availability and costs.

Regulatory changes

Stora Enso’s businesses may be affected by political or regulatory developments in any of the countries and jurisdictions where it operates, including changes to forest, biodiversity, environmental, fiscal, tax or other regulatory regimes. Potential impacts include higher costs and capital expenditure to meet new requirements, the expropriation of assets, imposition of royalties or other taxes targeted at the industry, and requirements for local ownership or beneficiation.

The EU Green Deal and its climate targets for 2030 and 2050 have resulted in a proliferation of future legislation which have been further advanced in 2021 and may impact Stora Enso’s future operations. The policy initiatives from the European Commission will include policies and legislation on areas such as EU Forest and Biodiversity strategies, the Renewable Energy Directive, EU Emission Trading System (ETS), Sustainable products initiative,  Packaging and Packaging waste revision as well as EU taxonomy.

The EU taxonomy regulation progressed during 2021, but uncertainty remains on how much Stora Enso’s economic activities are within the taxonomy’s scope, as the regulation develops further. Good management of financial and sustainability related risks and opportunities, as well as disclosure thereof, will improve the likelihood of a favourable perception by the capital markets and thus the cost of capital.

Political decisions driven by increasingly polarised public debate on forest resources, could limit the availability of wood, increase costs and reduce investment opportunities.

Stora Enso has been granted various investment subsidies and has given certain investment commitments in different countries e.g. Finland, China and Sweden. If committed planning conditions are not met, local officials may pursue administrative measures to reclaim some of the formerly granted investment subsidies or to impose penalties on Stora Enso, and the outcome of such a process could result in a negative financial impact on Stora Enso.

Mitigation measures and opportunities

Active monitoring of regulatory and political developments in the countries where Stora Enso operates as well as participation in policy development mainly through industry associations and other partnership programmes are important risk mitigation regarding regulatory changes. Regulatory changes can also bring significant opportunities by driving market growth for sustainable products and create competitive advantage through resource efficiency and renewability.

Competition and market demand

The packaging, pulp, paper and wood products industries are mature, capital intensive and highly competitive. Stora Enso’s principal competitors include several large international forest products companies and numerous regional and more specialised competitors. Customer demand is influenced by the general economic conditions and inventory levels and affects product price levels. Product prices, which tend to be cyclical, are affected by capacity utilisation, which decreases in times of economic slowdowns. Changes in prices differ between products and geographic regions.

The following table shows the operating profit sensitivity to a +/- 10% change in either price or volume for different segments based on figures for 2021.

Operating profit: Impact of changes +/- 10%, EUR million

Mitigation measures and opportunities

The ability to respond to changes in product demand and consumer preferences and to develop new products on a competitive and economic basis calls for innovation, continuous capacity management and structural development. The risks related to factors such as demand, price, competition and customers are regularly monitored by each division and unit as a routine part of business management. These risks are also continuously monitored and evaluated on a Group level to gain a perspective of the Group’s total asset portfolio and overall long-term profitability potential.

Stora Enso, as one of the biggest private forest owners in the world, also benefits from a strategic renewable resource base. The Group’s expertise in wood and wood based renewable materials is focused on responding to changing customer and consumer preferences, driven by climate change. Products based on renewable materials with a low carbon footprint help customers and society at large to reduce CO2 emissions by providing an alternative to solutions based on fossil fuels or other non-renewable materials.