Forestry statistics in detail

Data extracted in August 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Next update of the article: January 2017

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 had close to 182 million hectares of forests and other wooded land, corresponding to 43 % of its land area (excluding lakes and large rivers; see Table 1). Wooded land covers a slightly greater proportion of the land than is used for agriculture (some 41 %). In seven EU Member States, more than half of the land area was wooded in 2015. Just over three quarters of the land area was wooded in Finland and Sweden, while Slovenia reported 63 %; the remaining four EU Member States, each with shares in the range of 54–56 %, were Estonia, Latvia, Spain and Portugal, and in Greece the share of wooded area was 50 %.

Sweden reported the largest wooded area in 2015 (30.5 million hectares), followed by Spain (27.6 million hectares), Finland (23.0 million hectares), France (17.6 million hectares), Germany (11.4 million hectares) and Italy (11.1 million hectares). Of the total area of the EU-28 covered by wooded land in 2015, Sweden accounted for 16.8 %. Spain (15.2 %) and Finland (12.7 %) were the only other EU Member States to record double-digit shares.

Not all data are available for both forests and other wooded land; ownership is one example. Just 60.3 % 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 97.0 % in Portugal. By contrast, the share of privately owned forests was below 20 % in Poland and Bulgaria (where the lowest proportion was recorded, at 12.1 %).

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 timber in forests and other wooded land in the EU-28 totalled some 26.7 billion m3 (over bark) in 2015: Germany had the highest share (13.7 %), followed by Sweden (11.2 %) and France (9.7 %). Germany also had the largest growing stock in forests available for wood supply in 2015, 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 – i.e. the average growth in volume of the stock of living trees available at the start of the year minus the average natural mortality of this stock – in forests available for wood supply was also highest in Germany, amounting to 119 million m3 in 2015 (16.5 % of the total increase for the EU-28), while Sweden, France and Finland each accounted for between 11 % and 13 % of the net annual increment in the EU.

Table 2: Timber resources (1)
Source: Eurostat (for_remov); (for_vol); 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 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 3). Slightly more than one fifth of the EU-28’s roundwood production in 2014 was used as fuelwood, while the remainder was industrial roundwood used either for sawnwood and veneers, or for pulp and paper production.

In 2014, two EU Member States (Sweden and Ireland) reported that over 90 % of their total roundwood production was industrial roundwood. Denmark, France and Cyprus were the only EU Member States where over half of the roundwood produced in 2014 was fuelwood, while Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Estonia and Lithuania reported proportions between 32 and 45 %. 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 (¹)
(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, 2005 and 2014
Source: Eurostat (nrg_107a))
Figure 3: Wood as a source of energy, 2014
(% 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 were 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 (see Figure 1). 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, levelled out in 2012 and 2013, and decreased by  –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 were the EU’s leading sawnwood producers, regularly accounting for approximately 21 % and 17 % of the EU-28 total output over the past few years (see 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 2016 edition of the indicator report on the Europe 2020 strategy Smarter, greener, more inclusive? 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 2005 and 2014, the consumption of renewable energy within the EU-28 increased by 66 %. Some renewable energy sources grew exponentially. The consumption of solar energy for example, grew by 1 349 % between 2005 and 2014. However, the consumption of more established renewable energy sources, such as biomass other than wood (including municipal waste) also increased substantially (+ 184 %) 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 (64 %) of the gross inland energy consumption of renewables in the EU-28 in 2014. As part of this biomass total, wood and agglomerated wood products such as pellets and briquettes provided the highest share of energy from organic, non-fossil materials of biological origin, accounting for almost half (45 %) of the EU-28’s gross inland energy consumption of renewables in 2014.

In many EU Member States, wood was the most important single source of energy from renewables. Wood and wood products accounted for 5.6 % of the total energy consumed within the EU-28 in 2014. The share of wood and wood products 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, Latvia, Finland and Poland. By contrast, the share of wood in the mix of renewables was relatively low in Cyprus and Malta (where the lowest share was reported, 6.2 %); this was also the case in oil- and gas-rich Norway (6.4 %).

Wood pellets and other agglomerated wood products 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 and agglomerates 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 directly for combustion in residential and commercial heating.

The EU-28 was 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 were the United States and Canada; much less is supplied by Russia and other countries (i.a. Belarus and Ukraine).

Germany produced an estimated 2.1 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, with 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 EU 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 2013 were found in Sweden, Germany and Finland.

Gross fixed capital formation is an indicator of the level of investment in an industry and as such may show how competitive the industry is, in relation to its total gross value added. On the basis of the information that is available for 21 EU Member States, EUR 2.9 billion was invested in forestry and logging in 2013, amounting to 12.2 % of gross value added. Almost half of the investment that took place in 2013 could be attributed to Sweden, Finland and Germany. The highest proportions of gross fixed capital formation compared with value added were recorded in Lithuania (30.4 %), Cyprus (28.8 %) and Greece (26.3 %), although in the case of Cyprus and Greece these figures tended to reflect low levels of added value rather than high levels of investment. They were followed by Sweden (17.8 %), while Finland and Austria each recorded proportions of gross fixed capital formation compared with gross value of 13.5 %.

The ratio of value added generated within the forestry and logging sector compared with the forest area available for wood supply is an indicator that can be used to analyse the productivity of forestry activities across the EU (see Table 6 and Figure 5). The indicator shows that in 2013, the highest amounts of value added per forest area in the EU were in Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Austria.

Table 6: Economic indicators for forestry and logging, 2005 and 2013
Source: Eurostat (for_ieeaf_cp) and (for_area)
Figure 5: Forestry and logging value added per forest area available for wood supply, 2005 and 2013
(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 information in relation to employment within the EU’s forestry and logging sector based mostly on the EU Labour Force Survey, completed with some data from EU forest accounts. The largest workforce in the EU’s forestry and logging sector was recorded in Poland, with 72 500 persons employed in 2013. There were also relatively large workforces in Romania (53 900), Italy (47 000), Germany (35 300) and France (32 000).

Table 7: Employment in forestry and logging, 2005 and 2013
Source: Eurostat (for_ieeaf_cp), (for_awu), (for_remov) and (for_area)

The ratio of labour input 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 14.6 employed persons per 1 000 hectares in Cyprus to less than 2 employed persons per 1 000 hectares in Spain, Sweden, Greece and Finland. Some of the differences across EU Member States may, at least in part, be explained by factors such as the density of the growing stock, the tree species and the local terrain in areas where forestry and logging takes place.

The labour productivity of the forestry and logging sector (calculated as gross value added per person employed) also varied substantially across the EU Member States in 2013. The highest levels of labour productivity using this measure were recorded in Sweden (EUR 156 400 per person employed) and Finland (EUR 152 500 per person employed), while at the other end of the range, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Hungary recorded productivity levels that were below EUR 10 000 per person employed.

Figure 6: Employment per area of forest available for wood supply, 2005 and 2015
(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 432 000 enterprises were active in wood-based industries across the EU-28; they represented more than one in five (20.8 %) manufacturing enterprises across the EU-28, highlighting that - with the exception of pulp and paper manufacturing that is characterised by economies of scale - many 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 and 2013
Source: Eurostat (sbs_na_2a_dade), (sbs_na_2a_dade) and (sbs_na_ind_r2)

The economic weight of the wood-based industries in the EU-28 as measured by gross value added was equivalent to EUR 129 billion or 7.9 % of the manufacturing total in 2013. The distribution of value added across each of the four wood-based activities in 2013 is presented in Table 8. Within the EU-28’s wood-based industries, the highest share was recorded for pulp, paper and paper products manufacturing (32 % or EUR 41 billion), while the other three sectors had nearly equal shares — printing and service activities related to printing and the manufacturing of wood and wood products each amounted to 23 % of the gross value added of wood based industries while the manufacture of furniture made up 22 %.

Between 2005 and 2013 the overall added value generated within the EU-28’s manufacturing industries fell by 2.3 %. The wood-based industries in the EU-28 experienced a decrease in activity as gross value added fell by 19.1 %. 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 (– 28.0 %). The added value generated by the EU-28’s wood and wood products manufacturing enterprises fell by 18.2 % between 2005 and 2013, and manufacturing of pulp, paper and paper products decreased 9.5 %.

Wood-based industries employed 3.3 million persons across the EU-28 in 2013, or 11.1 % 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, 727 000 persons in printing, while the lowest level of labour input (640 000 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 16.7 % during the 2000–15 period, while the largest losses among the three wood-based industries shown in Figure 7 were recorded for furniture manufacturing (28.7 % fewer persons employed). Pulp, paper and paper products was the least affected manufacturing industry, noting a 22.4 % reduction in employment during the 2000–15 period, while employment in manufacturing of wood products dropped by 26.3 %. The forestry and logging industry had an employment increase of 6.9 % from 2004 to 2015.

Figure 7: Employment in wood-based industries compared with total manufacturing, EU-28, 2000–15
(2010 = 100)
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 2000–15 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's legal framework for the scheme is 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 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. Agreements have been concluded or are being negotiated with fifteen tropical countries that have signed or are in the process of signing voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) with the EU: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guyana, Honduras, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Table 9 (and Figure 9) shows the value of all wood imports to the EU-28 from the 15 FLEGT-VPA countries, while Table 10 (and Figure 8) shows the value of imports of wood specified as tropical. Both tables also show the respective total imports to the EU-28 from all countries of the world.

Table 9 shows the potential value of all legal timber that could enter the EU from its partners with bilateral FLEGT agreements. The value of these imports reached a peak of EUR 2.7 billion in 2007, before falling by 10 % in 2008 and by another 33 % in 2009 (see Figure 9). 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 totalled only EUR 1 372 billion.

Table  10 and Figure 8 show that approximately 80 % of the EU-28’s tropical wood imports (in value terms) came from the 15 FLEGT-VPA countries during the 2000–14 period. The main exporters in 2014 were Cameroon (20.3 % of the total), followed by Malaysia (19.2 %) and Indonesia (10.7 %).

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, 2000–14
(EUR million)
Source: Eurostat (for_trop)
Figure 8: FLEGT countries' share in tropical wood imports to the EU-28, 2000–14
(EUR million)
Source: Eurostat (for_trop)
Figure 9: FLEGT countries' share in total wood imports to the EU-28, 2000–14
(EUR million)
Source: Eurostat (for_trop)

Forests and climate change

The Statistics Explained article on greenhouse gas emission statistics presents data on man-made emissions of the six greenhouse gases governed by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, that the EU and the Member States report annually to the UNFCCC by means of greenhouse gas inventories. Common reporting rules are defined by the IPCC reporting guidelines.

The six greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO 2), methane (CH 4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF 6). For the sake of comparison, the emissions of these gases are re-calculated and expressed as CO2-equivalents.

In the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012), not all parties had to report on the CO2 emissions and removals of land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), even though LULUCF is one of the six inventory sectors of the IPCC Excel.jpg Reporting Format sector classification. This reporting was, however, carried out by EU Member States.

LULUCF is a special sector of the reporting on greenhouse gases because only a small part of its emissions and removals count towards compliance with targets - only those quantities resulting from human activities beyond the natural carbon cycles. In this sector, there is a very big difference between reported and accounted quantities.

More detailed reporting information on LULUCF is included for the Protocol's second committment period (2013-2020) and the EU is also improving the quality of this information under its own legislation (Decision 529/2013). In line with its 2020 commitment, the EU has pledged to cut its emissions to 20 % below 1990 levels as part of the Europe 2020 climate and energy policy framework, excluding LULUCF. The EU is already well on track to achieve this target. Under its nationally determined contribution prepared for the Paris Agreement, the EU set its reduction target to 40 % below 1990 levels by 2030. In order to achieve these goals, the EU proposed on 20 July 2016 to fully integrate the land use sector into the EU 2030 climate and energy framework.

Land use includes our use of soil, trees, plants, biomass and timber, and is in a unique position to contribute to climate policy because the LULUCF sector not only emits greenhouse gases but also removes CO2 from the atmosphere. According to the data compiled by the EEA for the EU-28 as a whole, forest land and harvested wood products are the two sub-sectors of LULUCF that absorb and store CO2 from the atmosphere. The other six sub-sectors of LULUCF are for the time being mostly net CO2-emitters: cropland, grassland, wetlands, settlements, other land and other LULUCF. This assertion may not hold for individual Member States because the way land areas are managed determines whether they are a source or sink of CO2. For example, grassland will become a sink if it is managed without disturbing the soil, and forests can become accounted sources of CO2 when more timber is felled than grows in a given time period.

The data compiled by the EEA for the EU-28, and published in Eurostat's table (env_air_gge), covers the official data reported to the UNFCCC by the Member States under Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 on "a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emission (MMR)". Table 11 shows that EU forest land alone removes up to 10.9 % of the total EU greenhouse gas emissions every year. When carbon stored in harvested wood products is added to the removals of forest land, the two sectors combined absorb up to 11% of total annual EU greenhouse gas emissions.

Table 11: Total GHG emissions and removals by forests and harvested wood products 1990-2014
Source: EEA (env_air_gge)
Table 12: Greenhouse gas emissions and removals by LULUCF and agricultural source sectors, EU-28, 1990–2014
(million tonnes of CO2 equivalent)
Source: EEA (env_air_gge)

However, contrary to the reporting on emissions of the industrial sectors, the reported emissions and removals of CO2 in the LULUCF sector cannot be used as such to demonstrate compliance with targets, but are subject to a set of accounting rules. The main justification for the accounting approach in LULUCF is that a significant part of the removals associated with carbon stocks in forests and soils is the result of the natural greenhouse gas cycle. While reporting concerns an inventory of all emissions and removals, accounting aims to identify those which are human-induced and the result of additional action by humans over and above the natural carbon cycles that have always existed on the planet. As shown in an analysis of LULUCF 1990-2012 performed by the Joint Research Centre[2], the accounted annual removals of CO2 of the EU-28 were on average only 75 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent, or just 1.6 % of the average total EU-28 greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-2012.

The accounting rules rely on methodologies developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). EU Member States have agreed to these rules; they have been transposed into EU legislation with the adoption of the so-called "LULUCF decision" (Decision 529/2013).

The EU's 2016 proposal contains a "no-debit" commitment for the LULUCF sector, meaning that the accounted CO2 emissions from land use should be entirely compensated by an equivalent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere in the same sector. Figure 10 shows that this was the case under the reporting approach in all of the past reporting years, i.e. that the emissions of LULUCF sectors 4B to 4F and 4H were more than compensated by the removals of sectors 4A and 4G (forest land and harvested wood products). The LULUCF emissions only amounted to roughly one third of the LULUCF removals in most of the years since 1996. However, under the agreed accounting approach, the margin will not be as described here because forest management removals of CO2 are accounted against a reference level and therefore may present only the net change in the carbon sink. Moreover, EU Member States still have to gain experience in their accounting for grassland, cropland, wetland and the other LULUCF sub-sectors. The final results for all of the years of the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period will only be available in 2022. Several EU Member States have signalled that cropland could become a larger source of emissions, as more food and biomass for energy is produced. Grassland could be converted to cropland and forest area could diminish.

Figure 10: Greenhouse gas emissions and removals by LULUCF and agricultural source sectors (¹), EU-28, 1990–2014
(1 000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent)
Source: Eurostat (env_air_gge)
Figure 11: Consumption of wood products and storage of CO2, EU-28, 1992–2014
Source: Eurostat (env_air_gge); (for_swpan)

In the Commission's recent proposal on integrating LULUCF into EU climate policy (SWD/2016/249), the probable average annual surplus of CO2 removals in the LULUCF sector without additional measures (but with improved rules) would be limited to less than 20 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year at EU-28 level on agricultural land[3]. This sink is estimated to increase to over 90 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year if additional action is taken on agricultural land and afforestation is carried out. In the Commission's analysis, the accounting performance of managed forests is assumed to be neutral, due to uncertainties over the setting of reference levels and the impact of demand on timber harvests.

One such uncertainty is the harvesting of timber for fuel, which is projected to increase in order to reach the EU's targets for renewable energy in 2020. Eurostat's data on the gross inland consumption of solid biofuels (mostly wood) show a 24 % increase between 2005 and 2014 (online code nrg_107a). The statistics include estimates of consumption by households, in line with the Regulation on energy statistics, Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008. In the same period, there has been an increase of 29 % in fuelwood harvesting in the EU-28, according to Eurostat's data on production and trade in wood products that are collected in partnership with the UNECE, FAO and ITTO (Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire, JFSQ). The informal harvesting of wood for fuel is however still under-reported in the JFSQ, probably by a considerable amount. Timber used for fuel is considered to be equivalent to combustion in the year of harvest and hence applied to the debit side of LULUCF accounting. If fuelwood consumption is underestimated, less carbon would be stored in forests than is accounted, and emissions of carbon from forests could be underestimated.

A direct objective of such accounting rules is to increase human-induced CO2 removals in the LULUCF sector, where the EU – as any other party under the UNFCCC - will have to make additional efforts.

One such effort could be the substitution of some of the steel and concrete used in the construction industry by timber products. The carbon stored in harvested wood products of LULUCF sector 4G is mainly calculated for long-lived products such as the sawnwood used for construction or the wood panels used for interior finishing. Eurostat's JFSQ data are used to estimate wood products consumed (i.e production + imports – exports). Figure 11 shows data for the two main wood products along with the EEA estimates of carbon stored in harvested wood products. Although there are many different ways of estimating this carbon, as described by the IPCC, and production, stock change or decay functions may be applied to the products' data, there is quite a good fit between the consumption of sawnwood and panels and the EEA estimate of CO2 stored in harvested wood products in the EU-28. Carbon stored in harvested wood products also includes paper and paperboard products, which are reported in tonnes in the JFSQ and are not included in the wood products consumption shown.

The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will end in 2020. An international agreement on the post-2020 international climate framework was adopted at the UN climate conference in December 2015 (Paris Agreement). International principles and methods on how to include the associated emissions and removals in the post-2020 period will have to be discussed among the Parties as a follow-up to the Paris Agreement. It is important to note that there will be no obligation to continue with the international rules on LULUCF defined for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Internationally, there is likely to be a move towards a land-based accounting regime and away from the activity-based rules of the Kyoto Protocol, and the Commission's proposal reflects this. If adopted, this will make land cover data more important; the Member States will make more use of their statistics on land cover and land use, and incentives to improve their quality and utility will be stronger. This applies also to forest-related data, and the improvements generated by such a shift could be used for the European Forest Accounts (EFA) proposed by Eurostat in 2016, covering all sources of woody biomass, whether available for wood supply or not.

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:

  • Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire (JFSQ) on production and trade in wood and wood products;
  • European Forest Accounts (EFA) Questionnaire; 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 primary wood products. The data have also been used for modelling whether supply will match demand in the future due to competing uses for material and energy, and for estimating carbon in harvested wood products for post-Kyoto negotiations.

The collection of data for EFA 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

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

External links

Notes

  1. See table 'Roundwood, fuelwood and other basic products' (for_basic)
  2. 20/07/2016 - SWD/2016/249 - Impact Assessment, Figure Annex 5.2, p. 31
  3. 20/07/2016 - SWD/2016/249 - Impact Assessment, Table 7, p. 39