Forestry statistics in detail

Data extracted in August 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Next update of the article: December 2016

This article is part of a set of statistical articles based on the Eurostat online publication "Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics". It presents statistics on forestry and logging in the European Union (EU).

The European Union (EU) accounts for approximately 5 % of the world’s forests and contrary to what is happening in many other parts of the world, the forested area of the EU is slowly increasing. Ecologically, the forests of the EU belong to many different bio-geographical regions and have adapted to a variety of natural conditions, ranging from bogs to steppes and from lowland to alpine forests. Socioeconomically, they vary from small family holdings to state forests or to large estates owned by companies.

Main statistical findings

Forests and other wooded land

The EU-28 has just over 180 million hectares of forests and other wooded land, corresponding to 42 % of its land area. Wooded land covers a slightly greater proportion of the land than is used for agriculture (some 40 %). In six EU Member States, more than half of the land area was wooded in 2010. Just over three quarters (77 %) of the land area was wooded in Finland and Sweden, while Slovenia reported 63 %; the remaining three EU Member States, each with shares in the range of 54–56 %, were Estonia, Spain and Latvia.

Sweden reported the largest wooded area in 2010 (31.2 million hectares), followed by Spain (27.7 million hectares), Finland (23.3 million hectares), France (17.6 million hectares), Germany (11.1 million hectares) and Italy (10.9 million hectares). Of the total area of the EU-28 covered by wooded land in 2010, Sweden accounted for 17.3 %. Spain (15.4 %) and Finland (12.9 %) were the only other EU Member States to record double-digit shares.

New data were collected by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2015 for the Global Forest Resources Assessment. They show that several EU Member States have revised their time series upwards, but this does not mean that forest area has actually increased in the EU, only that the area estimates produced from existing inventory data have been corrected.

Not all data are available for both forests and other wooded land; ownership is one example. Just under 60 % of the EU-28’s forests were privately owned in 2010. There were 11 EU Member States where the share of privately owned forests was above the EU-28 average, peaking at 98.4 % in Portugal. By contrast, the share of privately owned forests was below 20 % in Poland and Bulgaria (where the lowest proportion was recorded, at 13.2 %).

Table 1: Forest area and ownership, 2010 and 2015
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_d3area); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Global Forest Resources Assessment, 2010; Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe (Forest Europe) State of Europe's Forests, 2011

The growing stock of forests and other wooded land in the EU-28 totaled some 24.5 billion m3 (over bark) in 2010: Germany had the highest share (14.3 %), followed by Sweden (13.8 %) and France (10.6 %). Germany also had the largest growing stock in forests available for wood supply in 2010, some 3.5 billion m3, while Finland, Poland, France and Sweden each reported between 2.0 and 2.7 billion m3. The net annual increment in forests available for wood supply was also highest in Germany, rising by 107 million m3 in 2010 (13.8 % of the total increase for the EU-28), while Sweden, France and Finland each accounted for around 12 % of the annual increment across the EU.

Table 2: Timber resources (1)
Source: Eurostat (for_remov); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Global Forest Resources Assessment, 2010; Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe (Forest Europe) State of Europe's Forests, 2011]

Primary and secondary wood products

Among the EU Member States, Sweden produced the most roundwood (70 million m3) in 2014, followed by Finland, Germany and France (each producing between 52 and 57 million m3) (see Table 2). Slightly more than one fifth of the EU-28’s roundwood production in 2014 was used as wood for fuel, while the remainder was industrial roundwood used either for sawnwood and veneers, or for pulp and paper production.

In 2013 and 2014, two EU Member States (Sweden and Ireland) reported that over 90 % of their total roundwood production was used as industrial roundwood. Denmark, France and Cyprus were the only EU Member States where over half of the roundwood produced in 2013 and 2014 was used as fuelwood, while Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary and Lithuania reported proportions between 32 and 46 %. In many EU Member States, however, no estimates of actual fuelwood consumption by households are included in the numbers reported. Separate studies would be needed to produce such estimates, because this wood may be acquired informally, including from forests owned by households. The numbers reported here are probably under-reported in several EU Member States, given the recent increases in the EU’s production of wood pellets and other agglomerates used for energy (see Figure 4) and the share of wood in gross inland energy consumption (see Figures 2 and 3).

Figure 1: Annual production of roundwood, EU-28, 1995–2014
(million m3)
Source: Eurostat (for_remov)
Table 3: Roundwood production, 2000–14
(1 000 m3)
Source: Eurostat (for_remov)
Table 4: Sawnwood production, 2000–14
(1 000 m3)
Source: Eurostat (for_swpan)
Figure 2: Gross inland consumption of renewable energy, EU-28, 2004 and 2013
(1 000 tonnes of oil equivalent)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_107a))
Figure 3: Wood as a source of energy, 2013
(% share of wood and wood products in gross inland energy consumption, in TOE)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_100a) and (nrg_107a)

The overall level of EU-28 roundwood production reached an estimated 425 million m3 in 2014, some 37 million m3 (8 %) less than the peak output level recorded in 2007. Note that some of the peaks (most recently 2000, 2005 and 2007) in roundwood production are due to forestry and logging having to cope with unplanned numbers of trees that were felled by severe storms.

From 1996 to 2007, there was a steady increase in the level of roundwood production in the EU-28. While the output of non-coniferous (broadleaved or hardwood) species remained relatively stable, there were greater year-on-year differences for coniferous (softwood) species. The effects of the financial and economic crisis led to a drop of the level of EU-28 coniferous production in 2008, a pattern confirmed by a further reduction in 2009. The output has since returned to pre-crisis levels of approximately 280 million m3 per annum. Non-coniferous production increased relative to coniferous production ever since the crisis years. In 2010, EU-28 total roundwood production rebounded strongly by 10 % and continued to rise in 2011, but has since levelled out at – 2 % in 2014.

The total output of sawnwood across the EU-28 was approximately 100 million m3 per year from 2010 to 2014, some 14 % lower than in 2007, the first year of the global financial and economic crisis, which was also the year of the all-time maximum in production at 116 million m3. The situation has now returned to the average production level of the years preceding the crisis. Germany and Sweden are the EU’s leading sawnwood producers, regularly accounting for approximately 22 % and 17 % of the EU-28 total output over the past few years. (Table 4).

Wood as a source of energy

Energy supply has always been one of the main uses for wood. Policy interest in energy security and renewable sources of energy, combined with relatively high oil and gas prices, has led in recent years to a reassessment of the possible use of wood as a source of energy. The use of renewables is enshrined in legally binding targets that have been set for each EU Member State concerning the role to be played by renewable energy sources through to 2020. The ‘Renewable energy progress report’ (COM(2013) 175 final) provides information on the progress being made towards the target of achieving a 20 % share of renewable energy in final energy consumption by 2020. This goal is designed to help reduce emissions, improve the security of energy supply and reduce dependence on energy imports.

Between 2004 and 2013, the consumption of renewable energy within the EU-28 almost doubled. Some renewable energy sources grew exponentially. The consumption of solar energy for example, grew by 1 433 % between 2004 and 2013. However, the consumption of more established renewable energy sources, such as biomass other than wood (including municipal waste) also increased substantially (+ 235 %) during the same period. Among renewable energy sources, total biomass (wood and other biomass including municipal waste) plays an important role, accounting for just over two thirds (65.0 %) of the gross inland energy consumption of renewables in the EU-28 in 2013. As part of this biomass total, wood and wood waste provided the highest share of energy from organic, non-fossil materials of biological origin, accounting for almost half (46 %) of the EU-28’s gross inland energy consumption of renewables in 2013.

In many EU Member States, wood is the most important single source of energy from renewables. Wood and wood waste accounted for 5.5 % of the total energy consumed within the EU-28 in 2013. The share of wood and wood waste in gross inland energy consumption ranged from over 20 % in Latvia and Finland down to less than 1 % in Cyprus and Malta.

Wood was the source for more than three quarters of the renewable energy consumed in Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Poland and Latvia. By contrast, the relative weight of wood in the mix of renewables was relatively low in Malta and Cyprus (where the lowest share was reported, 6.7 %); this was also the case in oil- and gas-rich Norway (8.0 %).

Wood pellets are made from dried sawdust, shavings or wood powder, with the raw material being subjected to high pressure to increase the density of the final product. Pellets are currently the most economical way of converting biomass into fuel and are a fast-growing source of energy in Europe. They can be used for power production, or, more efficiently, directly for combustion in residential and commercial heating.

The EU-28 is the largest global producer of wood pellets, its output reaching an estimated 13.1 million tonnes in 2014; production in the EU-28 rose by 97 % overall between 2009 and 2014. The EU-28 is also a net importer of wood pellets: the level of imports from non-EU Member States rose to 8 million tonnes in 2014, an overall increase of 364 % compared with 2009. The main suppliers of EU imports are the United States and Canada; much less is supplied by Russia and other countries (i.a. Belarus and Ukraine).

Germany produced an estimated 2 million tonnes of wood pellets in 2014, or 16 %, of the EU-28’s output. Sweden was the second largest producer with around 1.6 million tonnes, followed by Latvia (1.3 million tonnes), France (1.2 million tonnes), Austria and Portugal (945 and 944 thousand tonnes) (see Table 5).

Figure 4: Production and trade in wood pellets and other agglomerates, EU-28, 2008–14 (1)
(1 000 tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (for_basic)

Although potential biomass supplies within most EU Member States are substantial, some countries import significant volumes of fuel pellets and other forms of biomass as they seek to meet their renewable energy targets, raising concerns about the impact of importing wood as a source of energy and the consequences this may have on the global sustainability of forests and resulting levels of carbon emissions.

Table 5: Production and trade in wood pellets, 2010 and 2014
(1 000 tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (for_basic)

The United Kingdom was the biggest importer of wood pellets in 2014 among the EU-28 Member States, some 7.2 million tonnes (note that this figure relates to total imports, from non-EU countries as well as from Member States). Denmark and Italy each imported around 2 million tonnes of wood pellets in 2014. By contrast, Latvia was the only EU Member State to export more than 1 million tonnes of wood pellets in 2014, followed by Portugal with 750 thousand tonnes and the Czech Republic with 701 thousand tonnes. The Czech Republic also exported 591 thousand tonnes of other agglomerates, such as wood briquettes [1].

Forestry and logging: economic indicators and employment

A range of economic indicators are presented for forestry and logging activities across EU Member States in Table 6. The data come from forest accounts, which complement the other data collections. These data confirm the information presented at the start of this chapter, insofar as the largest forestry and logging activities on the basis of gross value added generated in 2012 were found in Sweden, Germany and Finland.

Gross fixed capital formation measures the proportion of gross value added that is (re-)invested, rather than being consumed. As such it may be considered an important indicator for the competitiveness of an industry. On the basis of the information that is available for 15 EU Member States, EUR 2.4 billion was invested in forestry and logging in 2012, accounting for a 13.0 % share of gross value added. Almost half of the investment that took place in 2012 could be attributed to Sweden and Finland. The highest relative shares of gross fixed capital formation in value added for 2012 were recorded in Cyprus (42.1 %) and Greece (26.3 %) although these figures tended to reflect low levels of added value, rather than high levels of investment. They were followed by Poland (24.0 %), while Finland and Sweden each recorded shares of gross fixed capital formation in gross value added in the range of 16.1 % a,d 18 %, respectively.

The ratio of value added generated within the forestry and logging sector compared with the forest area available for wood supply is one indicator that can be used to analyse the productivity of forestry activities across the EU (see Figure 5). The indicator shows that the highest shares of value added per forest area in the EU were in Portugal, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia and Sweden; forests accounted for at least 30 % of the total land area in each of these EU Member States.

Table 6: Economic indicators for forestry and logging, 2005 and 2012
Source: Eurostat (for_ieeaf_cp) and (for_area)
Figure 5: Forestry and logging value added per forest area available for wood supply, 2005 and 2012 (1)
(EUR/hectare)
Source: Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe (Forest Europe) — State of Europe's Forests, 2011, supplemented by Eurostat estimates (for_area) and (for_ieeaf_cp)

Table 7 provides some information in relation to employment within the EU’s forestry and logging sector. The largest workforce in the EU’s forestry and logging sector was recorded in Romania, with 60 300 annual work units (AWUs) in 2012. There were also relatively large workforces in Poland (47 700 AWUs), Sweden (42 700 AWUs), Germany (38 800 AWUs) and France (29 300 AWUs); note that this information is incomplete with data only available for 15 EU Member States.

Table 7: Employment in forestry and logging, 2005 and 2012
(1 000 tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (for_ieeaf_cp), (for_awu), (for_remov) and (for_area)

A ratio of labour input (as measured by AWUs) per area of exploited forest provides some information on the labour intensity of the forestry sector across the EU Member States. This indicator varies considerably between countries, ranging from a high of around 11.6 AWUs per 1 000 hectares in Romania to less than 2 AWUs per 1 000 hectares in France and Finland. Some of the differences across EU Member States may, at least in part, be explained by the local terrain in areas where forestry and logging takes place, as work in mountainous areas will generally require a higher level of labour input than work on large tracts of flat land.

The labour productivity of the forestry and logging sector (calculated as gross value added per AWU) also varied substantially across the EU Member States in 2012. The highest levels of labour productivity using this measure were recorded in Finland (EUR 110 400 per AWU) and Sweden (EUR 93 600 per AWU), while at the other end of the range, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus and Romania recorded productivity levels that were below EUR 14 000 per AWU.

Figure 6: Employment per area of forest available for wood supply, 2005 and 2012 (1)
(annual work units/1 000 hectares)
Source: Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe (Forest Europe) — State of Europe's Forests, 2011; supplemented by Eurostat estimates (for_awu) and (for_area)

Wood-based industries

The EU’s wood-based industries cover a range of downstream activities, including woodworking industries, large parts of the furniture industry, pulp and paper manufacturing and converting industries, and the printing industry. Together, some 438 000 enterprises were active in wood-based industries across the EU-28; they represented more than one in five (20.1 %) manufacturing enterprises across the EU-28, highlighting that - with the exception of pulp and paper manufacturing that is characterised by economies of scale - many downstream wood-based industries had a relatively high number of small or medium-sized enterprises.

Table 8: Main indicators for wood-based industries, EU-28, 2005(¹) and 2012
Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_2a_dade), (sbs_na_2a_dfdn) and (sbs_na_ind_r2)

The economic weight of the wood-based industries in the EU-28 as measured by EUR 132 billion of gross value added was equivalent to 8.1 % of the manufacturing total in 2012. The distribution of value added across each of the three wood-based activities is presented in Table 8. Within the EU-28’s wood-based industries in 2012; the highest share was recorded for pulp, paper and paper products manufacturing (32 % or EUR 42 billion), the other three sectors had nearly equal shares —  printing and service activities related to printing presented 24 % of the gross value added of wood based industries, manufacturing of wood and wood products 23 % and manufacture of furniture 22 %.

Between 2005 and 2012 the overall added value generated within the EU-28’s manufacturing industries fell by 2.9 %. The wood-based industries in the EU-28 experienced a decline in activity as gross value added fell by 17.0 %. Double-digit reductions in activity were recorded by all four wood-based industries, with the largest decline in output recorded for printing and service activities related to printing (– 22.8 %). The added value generated by the EU-28’s wood and wood products manufacturing enterprises fell by 17.2 % between 2005 and 2012, and manufacturing of pulp, paper and paper products decreased 8.1 %.

Wood-based industries employed 3.4 million persons across the EU-28 in 2012, or 11.3 % of the manufacturing total. There were just around 1 million persons employed within both the manufacture of wood and wood products and the manufacture of furniture, while the lowest level of labour input (649 000 persons) was recorded for the relatively capital-intensive and highly automated activity of pulp, paper and paper products manufacturing.

A longer time series and fresher data are available concerning the development of employment within three of the wood-based industries. Across the EU-28, manufacturing employment fell by 17.5 % during the 2000–14 period, while the largest losses among the three wood-based industries shown in Figure 7 were recorded for furniture manufacturing (29.8 % fewer persons employed). Pulp, paper and paper products was the least affected manufacturing industry, noting a 24.4 % reduction in employment during the 2000–14 period, and in manufacturing of wood products it reduced by 27.2 %. The forestry and logging industry had an increase of 4.7 % from 2003 to 2014.

Figure 7: Employment in wood-based industries compared with total manufacturing, EU-28, 2000–14
Source: Eurostat (sts_inlb_a) for_emp_lfs1 and for_emp_lfs

Each of these wood-based industries, in keeping with most manufacturing sectors, experienced a reduction in the number of persons employed during the 2000–14 period. The development of EU-28 employment for wood and wood products and furniture manufacturing closely followed the overall pattern for total manufacturing during the period 2000–08. Thereafter, with the onset of the global financial and economic crisis, job losses for these two wood-based industries accelerated at a faster pace than the manufacturing average. In contrast, employment in the upstream supply of timber to the wood-based industries presented a peak in 2008 (following the 2007 storms) and an increase from 2011 onward.

Tropical wood imports to the EU

The EU has agreed a voluntary scheme titled the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan to fight illegal logging and associated trade. One key element of the plan is to ensure that only legally harvested timber is imported to the EU. The EU legal framework for the scheme is Council Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005 adopted in December 2005 ‘on the establishment of a FLEGT licensing scheme for imports of timber into the European Community’ and a 2008 European Commission implementing Regulation (EC) No 1024/2008 laying down detailed measures for the introduction of the scheme.

Bilateral FLEGT agreements between the EU and various tropical wood producing nations are designed to halt trade in illegal timber, notably with a license scheme to verify the legality of timber exported to the EU. The first agreements to be formally concluded were with Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia, and Congo, while negotiations are on-going with nine more countries: Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guyana, Honduras, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The statistics shown in Table 10 therefore relate to the potential value of legal timber that could enter the EU from tropical wood partners with bilateral FLEGT agreements. The value of wood imports into the EU-28 from the fifteen tropical countries (FLEGT countries) that have signed or are in the process of signing voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) with the EU reached a peak of EUR 2.7 billion in 2007, before falling by 10 % in 2008 and by another 33 % in 2009. This shows how hard the global financial and economic crisis hit these high-value imports. There was a modest recovery in 2010, but a further decline in the period 2011–14, at the end of which the EU-28’s imports from these countries totaled EUR 1.372 billion.

The countries that are presented in Table  10 accounted for approximately 80 % of the EU-28’s tropical wood imports (in value terms) during the 2000–14 period. The main origin of tropical wood imports in 2014 was Cameroon (20.3 % of the total), follow Malaysia (19.2 %) and Indonesia (10.7 %) of total EU imports of tropical wood.

Table 9: Total wood imports to the EU and the share of FLEGT countries, EU-28, 2000–14
(EUR million)
Source: Eurostat (for_trop)
Table 10: Tropical wood imports, EU-28, 2002–14
(EUR million)
Source: Eurostat (for_trop)
Figure 8: FLEGT countries' stable share in tropical wood imports to the EU-28, 1999–2014
(EUR million)
Source: Eurostat (for_trop)
Figure 9: FLEGT countries' diminishing share in total wood imports to the EU-28, 1999–2014
(EUR million)
Source: Eurostat (for_trop)

Data sources and availability

Eurostat, the Timber Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Forestry Section of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) collect and collate statistics on the production and trade of wood through their Joint forest sector questionnaire. Each partner collects data from a different part of the world; Eurostat is responsible for the data collection exercise pertaining to the EU Member States and EFTA countries.

Eurostat produces annual data on forestry using two questionnaires:

  • the Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire (JFSQ) on production and trade in wood and wood products;
  • integrated environmental and economic accounting for forests (IEEAF); countries are currently providing data on economic accounts for forestry and logging, forming part of an environmental satellite accounts initiative that started in the late 1990s.

The JFSQ provides data on supply balances for wood products. The data have also been used for: modelling whether supply will match demand in the future due to competing uses for materials and for energy; estimating carbon in harvested wood products for post-Kyoto negotiations.

The collection of data for integrated environmental and economic accounting for forests restarted in 2008 after a break of several years. This data provides, among others, information relating to the economic viability of forestry, employment in forestry and logging and the multi-functionality of forests. Note that the monetary values concern current basic prices (in other words, the analysis of time series is not adjusted for inflation).

Context

A broad array of EU policies and initiatives has a bearing on forests. For several decades, environmental forest functions have attracted increasing attention — for example, in relation to the protection of biodiversity and, more recently, in the context of climate change impacts and energy policies. Apart from the traditional production of wood and other forest-based products, forests are increasingly valued for their environmental role and as a public amenity. The EU promotes sustainable forest management, aiming to

  • create and preserve jobs and otherwise contribute to rural livelihoods;
  • protect the environment by preserving the soil, minimising erosion, purifying water, protecting aquifers, improving air quality, absorbing carbon, mitigating climate change, and preserving biodiversity;
  • monitor the state of forests to meet environmental agreements;
  • improve the competitiveness of forest-based industries in the internal market;
  • promote the use of wood and other forest products as environmentally friendly products;
  • reduce poverty in developing countries by furthering forest law enforcement, fair trade conditions and halting deforestation and illegal logging.


The European Commission presented a new EU forest strategy (COM(2013) 659) for forests and the forest-based sector in 2013, in response to the increasing demands put on forests and to significant societal and political changes that have affected forests over the last 15 years. The strategy is a framework for forest-related measures and is used to coordinate EU initiatives with the forest policies of the Member States. In March 2010, the European Commission adopted a Green paper on forest protection and information in the EU: preparing forests for climate change (COM(2010) 66 final). The paper aimed to stimulate debate concerning the way climate change modifies the terms of forest management and protection, and how EU policy should develop as a consequence.

Forestry, along with farming, remains crucial for land use and the management of natural resources in the EU’s rural areas, and as a basis for economic diversification in rural communities. Rural development policy is part of the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP) which has been the main instrument for implementing forestry measures in recent years. In this context, it is estimated that spending on forest-related measures — through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development — amounted to EUR 9–10 billion during the period 2007–13.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Economic accounts for forestry and logging - values at current prices (tag00058)
Roundwood production (tag00072)
Total sawnwood production (tag00073)
Total paper and paperboard production (tag00074)
Forest increment and fellings (tsdnr520)

Database

Removals, production and trade (for_rpt)
Roundwood removals (for_rptr)
Roundwood production and trade (for_rptt)
Production and trade in primary products (for_rptp)
Trade in secondary processed products (for_rpts)
Economics and Employment (for_eaf)
Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting for Forests (for_ieeaf)
Historical Economic Accounts for Forestry (Series end in 2005) (for_eafh)
Sustainable forest management (for_sfm)
Assets (for_sfmas)
Environmental aspects (for_sfmen)
Environment (env)
Biodiversity (env_bio_div)
Common bird indices by type of estimate (EU aggregate) (env_bio3)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

  • Forestry [ESMS metadata file - for_esms]

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

External links

Notes

  1. See table 'Roundwood, fuelwood and other basic products' (for_basic)