Sustainable forestry

Sustainable forestry

Sustainable forestry


Forests provide crucial goods, including timber, fuel and food. They also perform key ecosystem services, contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, preventing desertification and soil erosion, and protecting water resources and biodiversity. Deforestation and degradation are placing this vital resource at risk and destroying livelihoods. The EU supports the efforts of many countries striving to preserve it.

Worldwide, 1.3 billion people depend on forests for all or part of their livelihoods. Sustainable management of this valuable resource is crucial to entire communities – and it is just as vital for society as a whole, as forests and trees contribute at least €180 billion per year to the world economy.
Forests cover around 4 billion hectares globally, around 30% of total land area. They provide an abundance of valuable goods, such as timber and fuel, food and medicines, and are home to more than 70% of the terrestrial biodiversity. They deliver essential ecosystem services, contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, preventing desertification and soil erosion, and protecting water resources.
The world’s forests are, however, threatened. Deforestation, mainly the conversion of tropical forest to agricultural land, shows signs of decreasing in some countries but continues at a high rate in many others.  An area of forest the size of England is destroyed every year, mainly in developing countries. In total, global deforestation is estimated to account for 18% of CO2 emissions. The drivers of deforestation and forest degradation include the increasing worldwide demand for food, timber and energy from a quickly growing population.
Illegal logging adds to the challenge. It is one of the primary concerns for many timber-producing developing countries, causing enormous social and environmental damage and costing their economies billions of dollars. It also fuels corruption, undermining governance and the rule of law. Consumer countries contribute to these problems by importing timber and wood products without ensuring that these goods are legally sourced. In recent years, though, producer and consumer countries have become increasingly vigilant with regard to illegal logging.
The EU's objective for the forestry sector is to work towards improved forest governance and law enforcement and, ultimately, the sustainable management of the world's forests, as a means of realising their potential to support the eradication of poverty and contribute to sustainable, inclusive development.
The European Union uses a range of policy instruments to achieve these goals.  It is at the forefront of global efforts to fight illegal logging with the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan and to reduce deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) notably in the framework of the REDD+ process. In addition, the EU supports a number of national and regional initiatives to promote sound forest policies and institutions, sustainable forest management and forest research.
The European Union, through the European Commission, provides nearly €80 million per year to support initiatives related to forests in developing countries. The total funding allocated to this sector amounted to approximately €1 billion between 2000 and 2012.
The table and the chart below show the total contribution per region and period since 2000:
EU forest financing in third countries (€ million)
Asia & Pacific
Latin America & Caribbean
Non country specific
1 002.7


The EU supports initiatives in the forest sector through a number of instruments. The largest share of its financial support for forest policies, programmes and projects is delivered through geographical instruments. This aid is provided to countries and regions that have prioritised and requested such assistance within their cooperation strategies.

The various geographical instruments target different parts of the world. The European Development Fund assists African, Caribbean and Pacific countries; the Development Cooperation Instrument covers Latin America, Asia and South Africa; and the European Neighbourhood & Partnership Instrument supports the EU's neighbouring regions.

Further funding for development initiatives is channelled through thematic programmes. The Public Global Goods and Challenges (GPGC) addresses a number of issues that are not priorities under the geographical instruments as well as issues common to groups of countries not belonging to a single region.

The European Union awards grants and tenders for the implementation of projects or activities that relate to the European Union’s external aid programmes. Detailed information on funding, beneficiaries and procedures, including calls for proposals, is available in the main Funding section.
In addition to project-related funding, financial support for forestry initiatives can also be provided through other aid modalities, notably in the form of budget support.


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