From Statistics Explained
- Data from September 2012. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article presents statistics on forestry and logging in the European Union (EU). The EU-27 has approximately 178 million hectares of forests and other wooded land, corresponding to 42 % of its land area. The EU-27's forests and other wooded land cover approximately the same proportion of land area as that used for agriculture.
Main statistical findings
From 1995 to 2007, there was a relatively steady rise in the level of roundwood production in the EU-27, 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-27 production rebounded strongly in 2010 (10.1 %) and continued to rise in 2011, but at a much more modest pace (1.4 %). The combined effects of the contractions in 2008 and 2009 and the expansions in 2010 and 2011 resulted in the overall level of roundwood production in the EU-27 in 2011 reaching 428.6 million m³, around 29.7 million m³ (or 6.5 %) lower than the peak level in 2007. 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. This 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.
In 2011 roundwood production in the EU-27 increased only slightly for coniferous species, an increase of 0.2 %, whereas for non-coniferous species the increase was greater, with production 3.9 % higher in 2011 than the year before. A comparison of production levels in 2011 with those before the crisis show the differing impact of the crisis. Roundwood production from coniferous species remained 11.2 % lower in 2011 than it was in 2007. In contrast, by 2010 production from non-coniferous species had already surpassed its 2008 production level, and by 2011 it was 5.4 % higher.
Among the Member States, Sweden produced the most roundwood (72.1 million m³) in 2011, followed by Germany, France and Finland (each producing between 50 million and 56 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 103.1 million m³ of sawnwood were produced in the EU-27 in 2011, close to two fifths (38.2 %) of which came from the two largest producing Member States, namely, Germany (21.9 %) and Sweden (16.3 %); Finland and Austria each accounted for just over 9 % of the EU-27 total. The level of sawnwood production in the EU-27 rebounded by 9.9 % in 2010 and grew by a further 3.0 % in 2011.
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 (AWU)) and value added. However, it is worth noting that the number of AWU per area of exploited forest varies significantly between countries, ranging from more than ten AWU per 1 000 hectares in the Czech Republic and Romania to only around one AWU per 1 000 hectares in Greece 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.
Contrary to what is happening in many other parts of the world, the area covered by forests and other wooded land in the EU-27 is slowly increasing. Forest cover in the EU-27 is gradually increasing: over the past 20 years (1990 to 2010) its area has increased in total by 5.3 %, equivalent to an average increase of 0.3 % per annum. The rates of change in individual EU Member States varied substantially, from almost no change in Luxembourg, Greece, Slovakia, Finland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Belgium, to increases in the range of 10 % to 25 % in the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia and Hungary, while Ireland recorded a 64 % increase in its area covered by forests and other wooded land..
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-27’s wooded land is privately owned.
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 the 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. The review may lead to the establishment of targets and indicators to measure progress in the forestry sector. Equally, the common agricultural policy (CAP) is due to be reformed by 2013; this review may also have consequences for forestry policy in terms of changes to rural development policy.
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 2007-2013 period through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development will amount to a value between EUR 9 000 million and EUR 10 000 million.
In October 2011, as part of a wider set of proposals for the reform of the CAP, the European Commission presented a proposal for the future support for rural development (COM(2011) 627 final/3). In line with the Europe 2020 strategy, six EU-wide priorities were outlined, three of which included specific references to the forestry sector:
- fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas;
- restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems dependent on agriculture and forestry;
- promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors.
It is expected that this reformed support framework will be in place by January 2014.
Further Eurostat information
- Forestry in the EU and the world (Statistical books)
- Forestry Statistics – 2009 edition (Pocketbook)
- Forestry (t_for), see:
- Forestry (t_for)
- Gross value added of the forestry industry, at basic prices (tag00058)
- Total roundwood production (tag00072)
- Total sawnwood production (tag00073)
- Total paper and paperboard production (tag00074)
- Forest increment and fellings (tsdnr520)
- Forest trees damaged by defoliation (tsdnr530)
- Forestry (for), see:
- Removals, production and trade (for_rpt)
- Roundwood removals and production (for_rptr)
- Roundwood production and trade (for_rptt)
- Production and trade in primary products (for_rptp)
- Trade in secondary processed products (for_rpts)
- Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting for Forests (for_ieeaf)
- Economic accounts for forestry (Series end in 2005) (for_eaf)
- Sustainable forest management (for_sfm)
- Assets (for_sfmas)
- Environmental aspects (for_sfmen)
- Forestry [ESMS metadata file - for_esms]
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting for Forests (IEEAF) questionnaire
- Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire (JFSQ) actually used
- Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire (JFSQ) (Presentation)
- Manual on the Economic Accounts for Agriculture and Forestry EAA/EAF 97 (Rev.1.1)
- European Union Forest Action Plan
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) - Forestry
- Forest-based sector European Technology Platform
- International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO)
- United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) - UNECE / FAO Timber Section