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.
In 2020, the EU had an estimated 159 million hectares of forests. Their area has increased by almost 10% since 1990 (145 million hectares).
In five EU Member States, more than half of the land area was covered with forests: Finland (66%), Sweden (63%), Slovenia (61%), Estonia (54%) and Latvia (53%).
At the other end of the scale, only around 1% of land was covered by forest in Malta and less than a fifth of land was forested in the Netherlands (10%), Ireland (11%), Denmark (15%) and Cyprus (19%).
Forests provide a range of ecosystem services to society; in addition to providing timber for construction or as fuel, their crucial role for recreation, clearing pollutants from air and water, preventing floods and storing carbon has been increasingly recognized. The potential of forests to supply these ecosystem services depends on forest area and forest condition. Larger forests and in good condition have a higher potential to provide us more ecosystem services.
For more information:
- Eurostat website section on environmental and forestry statistics
- What’s new article on UN adoption of a new statistical standard to measure ecosystems, their condition and services their provide
- Forest Information System for Europe - the single entry point for data and information to support forest-related policies in Europe
- EU landmark report on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services
- Public consultation of the new EU Forest strategy (closes on 19 April)
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