Forests and the forestry sector


Forest covers about 991 000 hectares or 36 percent of the total land area of Albania, of which 45 percent is high forests, 30 percent coppice and 25 percent shrubs. Nearly four fifths of the growing stock consists of broadleaved species, predominantly species of deciduous and evergreen oak and of beech. The main coniferous species is Black Pine.

More than four fifths of the forest is classified as semi-natural, with the remainder divided between natural forest and plantations. Productive forests are 82 percent of the total, the rest being protective ones. Forest plantation resources amount to 102 000 hectares.

Albania is one of the few European countries where there has been a decline in forest area in recent decades, due to clearance for agriculture, overgrazing and cutting for fuelwood, especially before and after the 1990s. Fellings have exceeded net annual increment, resulting in a decrease in the growing stock. Young age class forests occupy twice as much area as other age classes. This is an indication of over-cutting during recent years. There has also been a decline in its quality as a result of illegal cutting. Between 1990 and 2000, a drop of about 80 000 ha of forest cover has been recorded.

The country has had afforestation programmes, to plant mainly on difficult terrain. But at present, a cut in investment in this area has hampered the programmes.

Forest ownership is changing from State to the community and the private sector. Eighty-two percent of forests are state-owned, 17 percent are communal and private forests represent only 1 percent of the total.

Protected areas account for more than 100 000 hectares, and are expected to increase in the hills and mountainous terrains and as a result of genetic conservation programmes.

Products and trade
The contribution of forests and pastures to the country's economy has remained negligible. The sector continues to be oriented toward meeting domestic demand. Economic efficiency criteria are only slowly taking root in forest and pasture management.

Most of the roundwood production in Albania is utilised as fuelwood. The Albanian forest industry is small-scale and based mainly on imported raw materials as growing demand is not met by domestic production. Albania imports more than US$15 million worth of forest products.

The share of the non-wood forest products and services is relatively high in Albania. Hunting is an important source of income as is willow (Salix spp.) wicker, which is used for furniture and decoration. Other important non-wood forest products include aromatic and medicinal plants, pine tar and touchwood.

Last updated: August 2004

last updated:  Thursday, January 14, 2016