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Over 40% of the EU covered with forests

21/03/2018

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Today is the International Day of Forests, which is celebrated every year on 21 March to raise awareness of the importance of forests of all types.

Forests and wooded land cover over 182 million hectares in the EU. This is about 42% of the EU's total land area.

There are 0.36 hectares of forest per capita in the EU. The largest forest areas are in Sweden (30 million hectares), Finland (24 m) and Spain (27 m).

Looking at the forest area as a proportion of a country's total land area, Finland (71% of total land area) and Sweden (67%) are the most heavily forested countries, followed by Slovenia (64%), Estonia (58%) and Latvia (56%), while the Netherlands (8%), Malta (11%) and Denmark (16%) are the least wooded countries.

Forest cover by land area is a global indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as an EU-SDG indicator.

Infographics: International day of forests

Forests play a significant role in helping to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. EU forests absorb 417 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which corresponds to around 9% of total GHG emissions (4 450 m tonnes), compared to less than 7% (375 m tonnes) in 1990.

Compared with the GHG emissions of each Member State, forest land absorbs over 80% of CO2 equivalent in Sweden (84%) and over 50% in Finland (60%), followed by Lithuania (44%) and Slovenia (35%).

Graph: GHG emissions absorption by forests

2015 data. The source dataset is available here.


For more information
Eurostat website section on Sustainable Development Goals
Eurostat website sections on environmental statistics
Eurostat database on land cover and land use
Data source for GHG emissions: European Environment Agency