The state of nature in forest areas

Forests harbour most of the Earth's terrestrial biodiversity, including plants, animals and fungi species that are bound to and essential for healthy forest habitats.

To preserve forests and their biodiversity, species and habitats are protected by legislation such as Natura 2000 and the Birds and Habitats Directives. Species and habitats are monitored to evaluate the conservation status of sites, the impacts of pressures, and measures to restore.

Natura 2000 represents the largest coordinated network of nature conservation areas in the world. It stretches out over 20 per cent of EU27's land area and about ten per cent of the marine environment. The terrestrial part of the Natura 2000 network makes 78.5 million ha as sites designated under the Birds and Habitat Directives. The sites include Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for the conservation of threatened and migratory birds and Special Areas of Community Importance (SCIs)/Special Areas for Conservations (SCAs) for the conservation of the habitat types (Annex I) and species (Annex II).
Half of the Natura 2000 network comprises forests, albeit with significant differences between countries and biogeographical regions.

Forests inside and outside of Natura 2000 network

In 2018, about 39% of the EU27 land surface was covered by forests which is 158 Mha out of the EU27 land area of 403 Mha.
There are about 36 million ha forest area inside Natura 2000 network.

European forest coverage and forests inside Natura 2000 in 2018, Mha


Forests inside Natura 2000 network

Forests are of crucial importance for the protection of European ecosystems and biodiversity. Close to 25% of the total forest area in the EU is part of Natura 2000 sites.

Share of forests inside the Natura 2000 sites across Europe from 2000* to 2018, %

*Note that the 2006 distribution is based on the 2012 map.
**Please Zoom in to see the percentage of forest inside Natura 2000 sites at NUTS3 level

Extracted from Natura 2000 Barometer provided by European Environment Agency (EEA)Extracted from Land cover and change statistics 2000-2018 provided by European Environment Agency (EEA)Corine Land Cover (CLC) 2018 provided by European Environment Agency (EEA) and Copernicus Land Monitoring ServiceAdministrative Units/Statistical Units provided by GISCO Eurostat; © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries

Forest area by forest types in Natura 2000, km²

*This dashboard shows the composition of forests by type within protected areas at NUTS3 level.
**You can se drop-down menu on top-right to select different member states.

Forest habitat and species richness within NUTS3

The two maps display the sum of recorded habitats and species within Natura2000 areas by NUTS3 region. Data has not been normalised by Natura2000 surface area to maintain absolute members. Hotspots for forest habitats are concentrated in Scandinavian and Baltic nations. In contrast, the highest number of bird species was reported in Northern Italy, the Apennines as well as Spain (Extremadura, Aragon).