Forests are part of the solution towards a climate neutral, circular and inclusive economy in harmony with people and nature

Ways to regain the ecological, social, climatic and economic benefits of forests include:

  • protecting forests;
  • restoring degraded forest ecosystems;
  • managing forests sustainably;
  • integrating trees and forests into other sectors and ecosystems (e.g. in agriculture and urban planning)

Protection of forests

SHARE (AND AREA) OF EU27 FORESTS IN PROTECTED AREAS IN 2020

SHARE (AND AREA) OF EU27 FORESTS FOR BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION IN 2020

SHARE (AND AREA) OF EU27 FORESTS FOR PROTECTION OF LANDSCAPE AND SPECIFIC NATURAL ELEMENTS

Forest area by classes of naturalness, by region, 2020

 

Restoration

Many forests in Europe are increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters as they suffer from frequent drought and wildfires which foster land degradation and threaten forest ecosystems in a changing climate. Measures for the restoration, adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts are of utmost importance for forest ecosystems and forestry. The urgent action to combat these impacts calls for implementing solutions in the forest sectors to achieve forest ecosystem restoration and forest land degradation neutrality, and secure relevant ecosystem services to society and human wellbeing.

For more information on the potential restoration of trees in Europe see here.

The SUPERB project - Systemic solutions for upscaling of urgent ecosystem restoration for forest-related biodiversity and ecosystem services, was launched in January 2022.
The objective is to create a long term enabling environment for transformative change toward large-scale forest landscape restoration. The project aims at empowering just and informed decisions for the restoration of biodiversity, ecosystem services and carbon sequestration in a manner that minimises region-specific trade-offs and maximises synergies between ecosystem services. To read more on the project go to https://forest-restoration.eu/

Organisations and individuals across Europe are currently joining forces to make the European Union’s promise to plant 3 billion trees before 2030 reality. The MapMyTree application allows for the reporting of the progress of tree planting and hopefully motivates organisations and citizens to plant trees and contribute to nature restoration. To see more go to the 3 billion tree planting page and the webpage of the EU Commission.

Sustainable forest management in Europe

Europe’s sustainable forest management framework provides a Pan-European common understanding of sustainable forest management. It already covers deadwood and tree species diversity as indicators.

The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the EU Forest Strategy for 2030 call for an extended set of indicators to monitor ecosystem health, biodiversity, and climate change, which includes defining thresholds or ranges for achieving a desirable condition for each indicator.

Semi-natural forests dominate Europe's forest

Most forest habitats in the EU are semi-natural (~93%), and the remaining share is covered by plantations (~4%). Only 2% of forests are primary forests undisturbed by humans with a natural tree composition, age structure, regeneration processes, and substantial amounts of deadwood. Such forests provide habitat to forest plants and animals, and flora. The distinction between semi-natural forests and plantations in Europe is not always clear. For instance, planting indigenous species on clear-cut forests can make classifying a forest as a plantation, when the forest reaches maturity, difficult. Planted and natural stands are virtually impossible to distinguish in slow-growing forests after several decades. Furthermore, the definition of plantation forests is interpreted differently in different countries.

Share of broad forest management types in 2020, %

The majority of European forests is covered by semi-natural forests, in EU27