Forests, forestry and logging
Data extracted in June 2018.
Planned article update: August 2019.
The largest wooded area in 2015 was reported by Sweden (30.5 million ha), the smallest by Malta (0 ha).
About 500 000 people worked in the forestry and logging sector in the EU in 2015, with Germany recording the largest workforce (about 50 000 people).
Forestry and logging value added per forest area available for wood supply, 2015
This article is part of a set of statistical articles that the Eurostat online publication "Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics" and other publications are based on. 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. European forests are an important factor in mitigating climate change. Socio-economically, forests vary from small family holdings to state forests or to large estates owned by companies. This article provides data on the EU's forest area, forest ownership and timber resources as well as economic and employment figures of the forestry sector. Indicators combining both the physical and the economic data are presented.
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 10 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 %).
The growing stock of timber in forests and other wooded land in the EU-28 totalled some 26.0 billion m3 (over bark) in 2015: Germany had the highest share (14.1 %), followed by Sweden (11.5 %) and France (10.0 %). Germany also had the largest growing stock in forests available for wood supply in 2015, some 3.5 billion m3, while Finland, Poland, Sweden and France 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 (15.9 % of the total increase for the EU-28), while Sweden, France and Finland each accounted for between 10 % and 13 % of the net annual increment in the EU in 2010, the latest reference year available.
Economic indicators and employment
A range of economic indicators are presented for forestry and logging activities across EU Member States in Table 3. The data come from EU forest accounts. The most important forestry and logging activities on the basis of gross value added generated in 2015 are found in Sweden, France and Germany.
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 20 EU Member States, EUR 3.02 billion was invested in forestry and logging in 2015, amounting to 11.7 % of gross value added (EU-28 total). Almost half of the investment that took place in 2015 comes from Sweden, Finland and Germany. The highest proportions of gross fixed capital formation compared with value added were recorded in the United Kingdom (43.5 %) and Cyprus (31.4 %), although in the case of Cyprus the figures tended to reflect low levels of added value rather than high levels of investment. They were followed by Lithuania (2014 data) (19.1 %), Sweden (18.6 %) and Italy (18.0 %).
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 3 and Figure 1). The indicator shows that in 2015, the highest amounts of value added per forest area in the EU were in Denmark, Portugal, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Lithuania (2014 data).
Table 4 provides information on employment within the EU’s forestry and logging sector, based mostly on the data from EU forest accounts (15 countries reported figures on employment in the EFA questionnaire for 2015), completed with some data from National Accounts. In the EU-28 about 488 500 persons worked in the forestry and logging sector in 2015. The largest workforce was recorded in Germany, with 50 200 persons employed in 2015. There were also relatively large workforces in Poland (48 700), Romania (46 700), Sweden (42 900) and Italy (39 600).
The ratio of labour input per area of exploited forest provides information on the labour intensity of the sector across the EU Member States. This indicator varies considerably between countries, ranging from a high of around 11.1 employed persons per 1 000 hectares in Hungary to less than 2 employed persons per 1 000 hectares in Finland, Spain, Greece and France. 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 EU Member States in 2015. Using this measure, the highest levels of labour productivity were recorded in Finland (EUR 147 500 per person employed) and France (EUR 118 800 per person employed), while at the other end of the range, Ireland recorded productivity levels that were below EUR 10 000 per person employed.
Figure 3 shows the output of the forestry and logging activity by type of output among the EU-28, Norway and Switzerland in 2015. From the data available, we see that the output of wood in the rough (logs) is highest in Germany, Sweden and France with respectively 4 470, 3 090 and 2 820 million Euro. The net increment of forest trees in managed forests is also highest in Germany (3 310), followed by France (2 620) and Poland (2 300). On the other hand, the output on non-wood products varies from 245 million Euro in Portugal (the main producer of cork), 202 in Poland, 55 in France and in Germany to 0.8 million Euro in Bulgaria. The category "Other", which includes services, secondary activities and other products, shows the highest output in France (1 310) followed by Germany (1 020) and Poland (710).
Source data for tables and graphs
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 (JFSQ). 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;
- European Forest Accounts (EFA), forming part of an environmental satellite accounts initiative that started in the late 1990s.
The JFSQ provides data for supply balances of timber used for wood products and for energy, and for estimating the carbon contained in harvested wood products.
The collection of forest accounts re-started in 2008 after a break of several years, As in the 1990s, it was known as Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting for Forests (IEEAF). In 2016, the questionnaire was reviewed and adapted to new needs, such as timber from all sources for material use, energy and the bio-economy, while continuing the time series on the economic viability of forestry and employment. The questionnaire was re-named European Forest Accounts (EFA). Note that the monetary values concern current basic prices (in other words, the analysis of time series is not adjusted for inflation).
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.
- Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics — 2015 edition (Statistical book)
- Energy, transport and environment indicators — 2016 edition (Pocketbook)
- Environmental statistics and accounts in Europe — 2010 edition (Statistical book)
- Forestry in the EU and the world — 2011 edition (Statistical book)
- Forestry (t_for), see:
- 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)
- Forestry (for), see:
- 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)