The importance of forests for human needs, biodiversity, water regulation and soil protection is considerable. Forests are important too for mitigating climate change and for renewable energy. The aim of this report is to assess the current state of forest ecosystems in Europe on the pathway to healthy, diverse, resilient and productive forests for the benefit of present and future generations.
Healthy and diverse forest ecosystems?
- Forests cover more than 40% of the total land surface in the European Environment Agency region (33 member countries and six cooperation contries). Forest extent and growing stock are still increasing. But some countries in northern and south-west Europe are experiecing a decline in forested areas.
- There is a great diversity of forest habitats across Europe. Invasive alien species still cover only 0.5% in Europe's forest area.
- 27% of mammals, 10% of reptiles and 8% of amphibians linked to forest ecosystems are considered to be under threat of extinction within Europe.
- Climate change affects biodiversity in forests. Climate change is likely to impact, both the zones where tree species can live in and the range of tree species. Increased periods of droughts and warmer winters are expected to further waken forests against invasive species.
Are Europe's forest sustainably managed?
Sustainable forest management (SFM) is the global forestry sector's response to the need for sustainable development. SFM is a strategic goal that encompasses social, economic and environmental dimensions. Most evidence suggests that the EU does practice SFM.
- More than 95% of the forests in the EEA region are under management and the degree of human intervention is controlled. Around 10% of these are managed intensively as plantations.
- Baseline data are needed to track changes in forest cover and condition. There is no systematic and harmonised European-wide forest information available.
- Research needs to be strengthened in order to identify and enhance the understanding of the main components of the 'drivers, pressures, state, impacts and response' analytical framework. Focus should be on the complex interactions between theses drivers of change.
- New professionals are needed for a broader, multidisciplinary understanding of the forestry sector and its roel in meeting humanity's needs for ecosystem services, in fostering rural development and in ameliorating the impacts of climate change.
Source: EEA (2016): European forest ecosystems. State and trends. EEA Report No. 5/2016. Copenhagen: European Environment Agency. www.eea.europa.eu