Forest habitats

The conservation of natural habitats aims to promote the maintenance of biodiversity. Protecting habitats forms the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy.

Forests are the dominant protected habitat type in Europe. About 34% of the Annex I Habitats (0.5 million km2) is covered by forests, more than any other habitat type (grasslands, dunes, and bogs, mires and fens habitats).

Share of Annex 1 protected habitat types in 2018, %.

The majority of Europe's protected habitats (35%) forests.


State of nature in forest habitats

The vast majority of the Annex I forest habitats do not meet their conservation targets. Assessments show that the state of nature of EU forest habitats is deteriorating, as is the case worldwide. Almost 85% of the protected forest habitats are not in good conservation status.

Conservation status for the forest habitat in EU27, 2018


Forest habitats exhibit the highest proportion of improving trends among the assessments (13%)

Trend in conservation status of forest habitats, in 2018


Natura 2000 forest habitats are mostly under threat by forest practices

Forest management may have significant impacts on forest habitats, e.g. the naturalness of forests. Some forest practices (e.g. traditional and coppicing) may also stimulate biodiversity.

  • Removal of dead and dying trees
  • Clear-cutting, removal of all trees
  • Removal of old trees
  • Conversion to monocultures
  • Removal of old growth forest
  • Introducing non-native or non typical species