Forests, forestry and logging

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Data extracted in February 2020.

Planned article update: December 2020.

Highlights

In 2015, the largest forest area in in the EU was reported by Sweden (28.1 million ha), followed by Finland (22.2 million ha).

In 2017, the biggest output of forestry and logging in the EU was in Sweden (EUR 9 100 million at basic prices), followed by Germany (EUR 8 500 million).

In 2017, about 484 000 people worked in the forestry and logging sector in the EU, with Poland recording the largest workforce (about 52 700 people).

Infograph: Land area covered by forests
(% of land area (without inland water) covered by forests).jpg
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_d3area) and (for_area)

This article is part of a set of statistical articles that the Eurostat online publication "Agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics" is 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 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.

Full article


Forests and other wooded land

The EU-27 had close to 179 million hectares of forests and other wooded land, corresponding to 44.6 % of its land area (excluding lakes and large rivers; see Table 1). In seven EU Member States, more than half of the land area was wooded in 2015. Around 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 54–57 %, were Estonia, Latvia, Spain and Portugal.

Table 1: Forest area, 2015
(1 000 hectares)
Source: Eurostat (demo_r_d3area) and (for_area) as well as
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:
- Global Forest Resources Assessment, 2015;
- Forest Europe 2015, as published on UNECE database

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-27 covered by wooded land in 2015, Sweden accounted for 17.1 %. Spain (15.5 %) and Finland (12.9 %) were the only other EU Member States to record double-digit shares.

The growing stock of timber in forests and other wooded land in the EU-27 totalled some 25.7 billion m3 (over bark) in 2015: Germany accounted for the largest share of this (14.3 %), followed by Sweden (11.7 %) and France (10.1 %). 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 2.1 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 (16.4 % of the total increase for the EU-27), while Sweden, France and Finland each accounted for between 11 % and 13 % of the net annual increment in the EU in 2010, the latest reference year available.

Table 2: Timber resources
(1 000 m3 over bark)
Source: Eurostat (for_vol)

Economic indicators for forestry and logging

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.

Table 3: Economic indicators for forestry and logging, 2005 and 2017
(current basic prices)
Source: Eurostat (nama_10_a64), (for_eco_cp) and (for_area)

Figure 1 shows the output of the forestry and logging activity by type of output among the EU-27, the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland in 2017. (The total output is given also in the second data column of Table 3). From the data available, we see that the output of wood in the rough (logs) is highest in Sweden, Germany and France with respectively 4 360, 4 168 and 2 721 million euro. The net increment of forest trees in managed forests is also highest in Sweden (EUR 3 553 million), followed by Germany (EUR 3 290 million) and France (EUR 2 435 million). On the other hand, the output on non-wood products varies from EUR 282 million in Portugal (the main producer of cork), EUR 257 million in Czechia and EUR 234 million in Poland to EUR 0.9 million in Bulgaria. The category "Other", which includes services, secondary activities and other products, shows the highest output in France (EUR 1 404 million) followed by Italy (EUR 1 270 million) and Sweden (EUR 1 092 million).

Figure 1: Output of forestry and logging by type, 2017
(million EUR, current basic prices)
Source: Eurostat (for_sup_cp)

The fourth data column of Table 3 shows that, in 2017, forestry and logging activities generated the greatest gross value added in Finland, Sweden, France and Germany among EU Member States.

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 16 EU Member States, EUR 2.6 billion was invested in forestry and logging in 2017, amounting to 13.0 % of gross value added of the forestry and logging sector of these 16 countries. The highest proportions of gross fixed capital formation compared with value added were recorded in Sweden (29.9 %), Lithuania (18.0 %), Croatia (15.4 %) and Slovakia (15.3 %).

The ratio of value added generated within the forestry and logging sector compared with the forest area available for wood supply may be used as an indicator of economic productivity of forestry activities across the EU (see Table 3 and Figure 2). The indicator shows greatest value added per forest area for Czechia, Denmark and the Netherlands for the reference year 2017.

Figure 2: Forestry and logging gross value added per forest area available for wood supply, 2005 and 2017 (1)
(EUR / hectare, current basic prices )
Source: Eurostat (for_eco_cp), (nama_10_a64) and (for_area)

Employment and apparent labour productivity in forestry and logging

Table 4 provides information on employment and apparent labour productivity within the EU’s forestry and logging sector, based mostly on the data from European forest accounts (EFA) (16 EU countries reported figures on employment in the EFA questionnaire for 2017) and completed with relevant data from National Accounts. In the EU-27 about 483 700 persons worked in the forestry and logging sector in 2017. The largest workforce was recorded in Poland, with 52 700 persons, in Germany (48 000), Romania (47 800), Sweden (41 000) and Italy (39 800).

Table 4: Employment and apparent labour productivity in forestry and logging, 2005 and 2017
Source: Eurostat (nama_10_a64_e), (for_awu), (for_area), (for_remov) and (for_eco_cp)

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 abound 11.6 employed persons per 1 000 hectares in Hungary to 1.0-1.8 in Finland, Spain and France (see Table 4 and Figure 3). Some of the differences across EU Member States may also reflect differences in management practices, the density of the growing stocks, the tree species and the terrain.

Figure 3: Employment per area of forest available for wood supply, 2005 and 2017 (¹)
(persons employed / 1 000 ha)
Source: Eurostat (nama_10_a64_e), (for_awu) and (for_area)

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 2017. Using this measure, the highest levels of labour productivity were recorded in Finland (EUR 185 500 per person employed) and France (EUR 115 600 per person employed), while at the other end of the range, Greece recorded labour productivity of EUR 7 000 per person employed (see Table 4, last column).

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

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 and wood industry using two questionnaires:

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).

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 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.

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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)


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)