Europe’s forest ecosystems are described according to many different classification systems, which reflect ecosystem structure and function system level, while others emphasize habitats, species and genetic variation.

Europe’s forest ecosystems are described according to many different classification systems, which reflect ecosystem structure and functionosystem level, while others emphasize habitats, species and genetic variation.

The Corine Land Cover classifies forest types at the broadest level: coniferous, broadleaved and mixed forests, and transitional woodland and scrub (“What is considered as a forest”).

Share of main forest types according to Corine Land Cover in 2018, %

 

The European Forest Type scheme highlights 14 forest categories across Europe, that can be further disaggregated to 78 forest types.

Distribution of the 14 forest categories of the European Forest Types scheme

Sources: Classification of the ICP Forests Level 1 plots with respect to main categories of the European Forest Types — European Environment Agency (europa.eu)
Administrative Units/Statistical Units provided by GISCO EUROSTAT; © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries

Characteristic tree species of each of the European Forest types are defined in the European Atlas of Forest Tree Species, which provides information on over one hundred key tree species in Europe using a combination of extensive field observations and habitat suitability modelling.

The European Nature Information System (EUNIS) distinguishes 46 spatially represented forest habitat types.The habitat types are cross-referenced to the European Forest Types. A recent update [1] is available.

Share of the main habitat types of the European Nature Information System (EUNIS) and their estimated areas, % and kha

 

The majority of forest habitat types in Europe are broad-leaved deciduous woodlands and coniferous woodlands.

Three-quarter of European forests are even-aged

Even-aged forests are susceptible to storm damage. Since the begining of this century, there is an increase in the area of uneven-aged forests.

 

Europe’s forest ecosystems can be described according to different classification systems, which reflect structural aspects and/or functional interactions at an ecosystem level, while others emphasize species and their associated habitats, or their genetic variation.

The Corine Land Cover classifies forest types at the broadest level: coniferous, broadleaved and mixed forests, and transitional woodland and scrub (“What is considered as a forest”).

Percentage of coniferous, broadleaved, mixed forest and transitional woodland and shrub

 

The European Forest Type scheme highlights 14 forest categories across Europe, that can be further disaggregated to 78 forest types.

Sources: Classification of the ICP Forests Level 1 plots with respect to main categories of the European Forest Types — European Environment Agency (europa.eu)
Administrative Units/Statistical Units provided by GISCO EUROSTAT; © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries

Characteristic tree species of each of the European Forest types are defined in the European Atlas of Forest Tree Species, which provides information on over one hundred key tree species in Europe using a combination of extensive field observations and habitat suitability modelling.

Complementary to the European Forest Type scheme, the European Nature Information System (EUNIS) distinguishes 46 spatially represented forest habitat types.The habitat types are cross-referenced to the European Forest Types and a recent update [1] is available.
The majority of forest habitat types in Europe are broad-leaved deciduous woodlands and coniferous woodlands.

 

Source: [1] Schaminee, J.H.J., M. Chytry, S.M. Hennekens, J.A.M. Janssen, I. Knollova, J.S. Rodwell and L. Tichy (2018) Updated crosswalk of the revised EUNIS Habitat Classification with the European vegetation classification and indicator species for the EUNIS grassland, shrubland and forest types. Wageningen, Wageningen Environmental Research, report, 508p.

Threatened trees in Europe

According to the IUCN European Red List of trees, almost half of the native tree species in Europe have been assessed as threatened (i.e. Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable) and therefore have high risk of extinction.

Classification of threatened trees in Europem in 2020, % trees in IUCN classes

Critically Endangered

Endangered

Vulnerable

Near Threatened

Least Concern

Data Deficient

 

Summary of tree species in each Red List category in Europe

IUCN Red List Category

Number of tree species in Europe (of which native species)

No results

Source: Extracted from State of Europe’s Forests 2020 Report - Forest Europe published by Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe

Knowledge of the genetic variety across the many different forest types in Europe is essential for adapting to climate change. The European Information System on forest genetic resources (EUFGIS) acknowledges and seeks to document the genetic variety of targeted tree populations. Although the information is steadily increasing, geographical coverage is still low for a comprehensive description of the genetic variation within forest trees in Europe.