The forest-based bioeconomy

The forest-based bioeconomy covers the entire value chain. It links the management of forests, to the processing of raw materials for producing goods, energy, and services, as well as the reuse and recycling of products and materials.

Forest-based value chain and ecosystem services

Source: Adapted from Forest bioeconomy – a new scope for sustainability indicators (2016), From Science to Policy 4, European Forest Institute.

Ecosystem functions and services

Ecosystem functions and services of forests provide essential contributions to a sustainable bioeconomy and society, such as protective functions, climate regulation (e.g., carbon sequestration), air purification, freshwater supply, soil protection, biodiversity (habitat and gene pool protection), recreation and tourism, socially and culturally relevant services and many others.

Examples of forest ecosystem services

Wood forest products

Wood is a raw material that provides a wide variety of human needs, including construction materials, textiles and fibres, paper, chemicals, and energy (heat, electricity, and fuel). The demands for wood-based products and other forest ecosystem services are increasing. It is partly due to changes in the political agendas with the interest in the bioeconomy and the deployment of biomass to meet renewable energy targets. To meet these demands sustainably requires action in various areas, from the sustainable management of forests and a balancing of the services they provide to the more resource-efficient use of wood in society. Wood can play a vital role in developing the circular and bioeconomy.

Non-Wood Forest Products

Forests provide a wide variety of non-wood forest products (NWFP) such as berries, mushrooms, aromatic and decorative plant material, saps and resins, nuts, honey, and wild meat. The economic and social importance of NWFP is considerable. However, available data on NWFP are incomplete and difficult to compare.

The total value for marketed plant-based NWFP is most likely underestimated as the marketed NWFP represent only a small share of all consumed goods. It is estimated that 86% of the weight of NWFP are self-consumed and not marketed. Around 90% of households in EU-28 consume NWFP and more than a quarter of households (26%) actively collect them.1
Source: 1. Lovrić et al. (2020). Non-wood forest products in Europe – A quantitative overview. Forest Policy and Economic

Examples of non-wood forest products

Shares of the total reported value of plant and animal related marketed non-wood goods in 2015, M EUR

The reported value of marketed NWFP in Europe is more than twice higher for plant products (EUR 2.8 billion) than for animal products (EUR 1.2 billion), adding up to EUR 4 billion in 2015.2


Total marketed value of NWFP in EU27 in 2015, EUR

About 84% of the marketed value of NWFP comes from food, ornamental plants, and meat


Total marketed value of NWFP by region in 2015, EUR

Almost half of marketed value comes from Central-West Europe


Marketed quantity of main NWFP classes in EU27 in 2015, t

Food represents the largest quantity of NFWP, about 70% of the total reported marketed quantity


2. FOREST EUROPE pan-European dataset provided by FAO, UNECE and FOREST EUROPE

Employment, turnover and value added of forest bioeconomy

Employment, turnover, and value added across Europe are reported for the three main economic activities of the forest and forest-based sector.

· Forestry and logging (A02 in the European Classification of Economic Activities, NACE rev. 2),

· Manufacture of wood and of products of wood and cork, except furniture; manufacture of articles of straw and plaiting materials (NACE C16), and

· Manufacture of paper and paper products (NACE C17).

The manufacture of wood and paper products yields mainly intermediate goods, which require further processing to become final commodities. A substantial part of the employment, turnover and value added in Europe’s wood-based sector takes place in downstream parts of value chains.

The wood-based value chain is a main component of the forest-based bioeconomy, ranging from activities in the forest-based sector (forestry and logging and the primary processing activities), as well as wood-based secondary processing and manufacturing activities. Wood-based secondary processing and manufacturing activities refers to the collection of industries—outside the forest-based sector—that use wood-based products and services in their production activity offer employment and income opportunities for diverse economic actors.

EU27: Employment in forest-based bioeconomy sector from 2008 to 2020, 1000 persons

Forest-based employment is a major source of employment in rural areas, and it is recognized as an integral part of sustainable development.Forest-based employment has stayed relatively stable since 2013.

3. Extracted from The State of the World's Forests 2018. Forest Pathways to Sustainable Development published by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

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EU27: Turnover in the forest-based bioeconomy sector from 2008 to 2018, M EUR

Mechanisation in logging operations, digitalization technologies in the processing industry and new applications of the versatile forest resources has led to a positive trend in turnover and value added after the 2008 economic crisis.

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EU27: Value added in forest-based bioeconomy sector from 2008 to 2018, M EUR

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