Forestry statistics

From Statistics Explained

Data from April 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: April 2015.
Figure 1: Annual production of roundwood, EU-28, 1995–2012 (1)
(1 000 m³) - Source: Eurostat (for_remov)
Table 1: Wood production, 2000–12
(1 000 m³) - Source: Eurostat (for_remov) and (for_swpan)
Figure 2: Roundwood production and gross value added of forestry and logging, 2011 (1) - Source: Eurostat (for_remov) and (for_ieeaf_cp)
Figure 3: Volume of work per area of forest available for wood supply, 2011 (1)
(annual work units per 1 000 hectares) - Source: Eurostat (for_awu) and (for_area), FAO Forest Resources Assessment

This article presents statistics on forestry and logging in the European Union (EU). In 2010, the EU-28 had approximately 179 million hectares of forests and other wooded land, corresponding to 41 % of its land area. The EU’s forests and other wooded land cover approximately the same proportion of land area as that used for agriculture.

Main statistical findings

Primary and secondary wood products

From 1995 to 2007, there was a relatively steady rise in the level of roundwood production in the EU-28, both for coniferous (softwood) and non-coniferous (broadleaved or hardwood) species — see Figure 1. However, the effects of the financial and economic crisis led to the level of coniferous production falling in 2008 and this pattern was confirmed with a further reduction in 2009, when non-coniferous production also fell. EU-28 roundwood production rebounded strongly in 2010 (10.1 %) and continued to rise in 2011, but at a much more modest pace (1.4 %), reflecting a slight reduction (-0.7 %) in production for coniferous species outweighed by a larger expansion (6.0 %) for non-coniferous species. In 2012, this pattern of increasing output for non-coniferous species and decreasing output for coniferous species continued. However, the reduction in production from coniferous species (-2.5 %) was somewhat stronger than the expansion recorded for non-coniferous species (1.7 %) leading to an overall decline in output of 1.1 %.

The overall level of roundwood production in the EU-28 in 2012 reached 429.0 million m³, around 33.5 million m³ (or 7.2 %) lower than its peak level in 2007. A comparison of production levels in 2012 with those before the crisis shows the differing impact of the crisis. Roundwood production from coniferous species remained 14.4 % lower in 2012 than it was in 2007. By contrast, by 2010 production from non-coniferous species had already surpassed its 2008 production level, and by 2012 it was 10.0 % higher.

Some of the peaks (most recently 2000, 2005 and 2007) in roundwood production are due to forestry and logging having to cope with unplanned numbers of trees that were felled by severe storms. The latest peak in 2007 was due to exceptional windthrows by storms in many parts of Europe — notably in Germany and Sweden — after which many more trees had to be removed from forests than planned.

Among the EU Member States, Sweden produced the most roundwood (68.9 million m³) in 2012, followed by France, Germany and Finland (each producing between 50.0 million and 56.1 million m³) — see Table 1. Approximately one quarter of roundwood production is used as wood for fuel and three quarters is industrial roundwood that is used either for sawnwood and veneers, or for pulp and paper production.

Some 99.6 million m³ of sawnwood were produced in the EU-28 in 2012, close to two fifths (37.1 %) of which came from the two largest producing Member States, namely, Germany (21.1 %) and Sweden (16.0 %); Finland and Austria each accounted for around 9 % of the EU-28 total. The level of sawnwood production in the EU-28 increased by 1.2 % in 2011 but decreased by 2.4 % in 2012.

Forestry and logging — economic indicators and employment

There is a strong link between the volume of roundwood produced and the value added generated by forestry and logging — see Figure 2. There is also a link between the labour input (in terms of the number of annual work units) and value added. However, it is worth noting that the number of annual work units per area of exploited forest varies significantly between EU Member States, ranging from 10.0 annual work units per 1 000 hectares in the Czech Republic and Romania to less than 2.0 annual work units per 1 000 hectares in Sweden, France and Finland — see Figure 3. This pattern may, at least in part, be explained by the fact that forestry and logging work in mountainous areas generally requires a higher labour input than on large tracts of flat land.

Data sources and availability

Eurostat, the Timber Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the 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. Each partner collects data from a different part of the world; Eurostat is responsible for data from the EU Member States and EFTA countries.

Roundwood production is a synonym for removals; it comprises all quantities of wood removed from forests and other wooded land or other felling sites during a given period; it is reported in cubic metres (m³) underbark (in other words, excluding bark). Sawnwood production is wood that has been produced either by sawing lengthways or by a profile-chipping process and that exceeds 6 mm in thickness; it includes, for example, planks, beams, joists, boards, rafters, scantlings, laths, boxboards and lumber in the following forms — unplaned, planed, and end-jointed; it is reported in cubic metres of solid volume.

Economic and employment data for forestry and logging are collected with a separate questionnaire that was developed in collaboration with Eurostat’s national accountants; these statistics are part of integrated environmental and economic accounting for forests.

Context

Contrary to what is happening in many other parts of the world, the area covered by forests and other wooded land in the EU-28 is slowly increasing. Over the past 20 years (1990 to 2010) the area of forest cover and other wooded land increased in total by 4.9 %, equivalent to an average increase of 0.2 % per annum. The rates of change in individual EU Member States varied substantially, from almost no change in Luxembourg, Sweden, Greece, Romania and Slovakia, to increases in the range of 10 % to 25 % in the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia and Italy, while Ireland recorded a 53 % increase during these 20 years.

Ecologically, the forests of the EU belong to many different biogeographical regions and have adapted to a variety of natural conditions, ranging from bogs to steppes and from lowland to alpine forests. Socioeconomically, they vary from small family holdings to state forests or to large estates owned by companies, many as part of industrial wood supply chains; about 60 % of the EU’s wooded land is privately owned.

Forestry strategy

The EU’s forestry strategy dates from 1998 and established a framework for forest-related actions in support of sustainable forest management. A report on its implementation was prepared in 2005 which led to the European Commission presenting an EU forest action plan (COM(2006) 302 final) in 2006 which underpins support for sustainable forest management and the multi-functional role of forests. The plan is a framework for forest-related measures and is used to coordinate EU initiatives with the forest policies of its Member States. There are 18 key actions proposed — to be implemented jointly with the Member States. The plan focuses on four main objectives:

  • improving long-term competitiveness;
  • improving and protecting the environment;
  • contributing to the quality of life;
  • fostering coordination and communication.

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) as part of a broader discussion about adapting to climate change. 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.

In April 2011, a decision was taken to organise a review of the forestry strategy; an ex-post evaluation of the strategy was conducted in 2012. In September 2013, the European Commission adopted a Communication titled ‘A new EU forest strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector’ (COM(2013) 659 final), designed to guide policy to 2030. The proposed strategy aims to put forests and the forest sector at the heart of the path towards a green economy and to value the benefits that forests can sustainably deliver, while ensuring their protection.

Forestry within rural development

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. The EU funds many different measures for rural development that directly benefit forest owners. 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 during the 2007–13 period through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development amounted to between EUR 9 000 million and EUR 10 000 million.

The CAP was reformed in 2013 and this review had consequences for forestry policy in terms of strengthening the strategic approach to rural development policy. In December 2013, Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) was adopted. Among the six common EU rural development priorities are: fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in forestry; promoting sustainable management of forests; restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to forestry; and promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift towards a low carbon and climate resilient economy in the forestry sector.

Forest based industries

The EU’s forest-based industries form an important part of manufacturing and their growth can help achieve the goals of the EU’s industrial policy, including the target of raising manufacturing’s contribution to gross domestic product in the EU from 15.3% in 2012 to 20 % by 2020, what is referred to as the reindustrialisation of Europe.

Through their value chains, the forest-based industries extend upstream into an increasing EU forest resource and downstream into an array of industrial and consumer applications for their products. Their main raw material, wood, is a natural, renewable, re-usable and recyclable material, thus having enormous potential to contribute positively to the EU’s 2050 goals, such as to provide a high standard of living from lower levels of energy and resource consumption. However, wood is becoming increasingly sought after and expensive through growing competition, for example, from its use as biomass as a renewable energy source and from emerging bio-based industries.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

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)

Database

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)
Employment (for_emp)
Historical Economic Accounts for Forestry (series end in 2005) (for_eafh)
Sustainable forest management (for_sfm)
Assets (for_sfmas)
Environmental aspects (for_sfmen)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

  • Forestry [ESMS metadata file — for_esms]

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

External links


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