Facts and figures on European forests and forestry


Forests cover 44 percent of the land area of Europe.

At just over 1 billion ha, or 1.26 ha per capita, 25 percent of the world's forests are in Europe, mostly in the Russian Federation.


Europe's forest area continues to increase.

The area of forest in Europe has increased by almost 13 million ha (an area roughly the size of Greece) in the past 15 years mainly due to planting of new forests and natural expansion of forests onto former agricultural land.


74 percent of Europe's forests have been influenced by humans.

About 70 percent of the European forests are classified as semi-natural and about

4 percent as plantations, while the remaining 26 percent, located mainly in

Eastern and Northern European countries, are considered undisturbed.


Wood volume in forests is record high and increasing.

The total growing stock of forests in Europe amounts to 112 billion m³. In recent years, an average of 358 million m³ - equivalent to the total growing stock of Slovenia - has been added each year.


Forest biomass carbon reserves are huge, and increasing.

In forest biomass 53 gigatonnes of carbon are stored, which is an increase by 2 billion tonnes since 1990. Further substantial amounts of carbon are stored in forest litter and soils, but knowledge on these components remains limited.


Forests in Europe have suffered severe storm damages, and forest fires continue to be a major challenge.

Since 1999, large storm damages have occurred in Europe almost annually. Hundreds of thousands of ha of forest are burnt annually.


Volumes of wood harvested in Europe's forests are increasing, but remain considerably below increment.

The forests are growing at an unprecedentedly high and increasing rate that is well above the volume harvested, so the amount of wood in forests continues to increase.


Forests provide a wide variety o goods and services other than wood.

The economic value of non-wood goods and services provided by forests is increasing, but often they are not marketed.


European Forests are managed

98 percent of all European forests are covered by a forest management plan or equivalent.


Forest management practices increasingly promote biodiversity.

Forest management practices have changed, notably toward the increased use of natural regeneration and more mixed species stands.


The area of protected forests has been expanding by about 2 million ha in the last five years to reach almost 5% of Europe's forests.


More than one-fifth of European forests are managed primarily to protect water, soil and infrastructure.

Ten percent of European forests are designated primarily for the protection of soil and water, and 11 percent for the protection of infrastructure or managed natural resources.


Forests are mainly public in about half of European countries, and mainly privately owned in the other half.

Without the Russian Federation, almost half of Europe's forest area is owned by private forest owners. The number of private forest holdings, currently more than 11 million, continues to grow.


European production and consumption of wood is increasing, as are exports of wood products.

Since the mid-1990s, wood consumption per capita has been rising, reaching

1.1 m³ in 2005. At the same time, Europe has become a major net exporter

of wood products (100 million m³ per year). Large and increasing volumes of wood are used for energy.


Around 4.3 million people work in the European forest sector.


More than 90% of European forests are open to public access.


Public participation in decision making related to forests is increasing, but challenges remain.

National forest programmes (NFPs) are widely acknowledged and used across Europe to govern the diversity of forest-related issues in a more open and adaptive manner.


Forest-related institutions are changing.

State forestry organizations have become more efficient and organizational structures for private forest owners are further developed.


Sustainability is given prominence in forest laws and other policy instruments.





UNECE, MCPFE & FAO. 2007. State of Europe's forests 2007 - The MCPFE report on sustainable forest management in Europe. Warsaw, Poland, Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE) Liaison Unit.

last updated:  Tuesday, September 30, 2008