Forest and Water Programme

New FAO Forestry Working Paper: The protective functions of forests in a changing climate - European experience


The protective functions of forests in a changing climate - European experience was prepared on the occasion of the 33rd Session of the European Forestry Commission Working Party on the Management of Mountain Watersheds on 13-15 October 2021.

The publication compiles the national reports from twelve member countries presented during the previous session of the Working Party in September 2019. It is a collection of experiences regarding protective forests, mountain watershed management and their respective practices, legislation, history and experience.

The objective of this publication is to present the policy and management approach of each member country and how they vary both geographically and culturally across Europe. Nonetheless, each of the country reports emphasize the important role that protective forests play in mitigating the impacts of natural hazards in mountainous regions. The publication confirms the importance of protective forests for their territories and citizens, providing protection to people, infrastructure and nature, but require protection from land use and increasing climate fluctuations with its associated risks, such as droughts, pests, storms and fires.  

Country reports show that mountain regions in Europe are facing common challenges and that different approaches can be learnt from each another. It is through appropriate governance, management and planning measures, that forests are able to provide ecosystem services in a sustainable way. In the context of a changing climate, current approaches have to be revisited and adapted to novel and increasingly more uncertain conditions.

We trust this report will provide a basis for further actions in transboundary and international cooperation for maintaining and enhancing protective forests.