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Europe’s forests are increasing, says the most detailed and comprehensive assessment ever of the world’s forests: UNECE plays its role

Published: 15 November 2005


FAO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, has just presented the first results of the latest Global Forest Resource Assessment (FRA), a cooperative effort by hundreds of the world’s specialists to provide decision makers, scientists and public opinion with comparable information on all aspects of forests. This work also helps to monitor one of the Millennium Development Goals, reversing deforestation. UNECE has played a leading role in the work for Europe, which in the global FRA 2005 definition covers 47 countries and territories, including Russia.

Main results for Europe are:

  • The area of Europe’s forest continues to expand, by about 660,000 ha/year in 2000-2005, as does growing stock, which increases by nearly 340 million m3/year.

  • Total forest area is just over 1 billion hectares, which is 24% of global forest area, and 44% of total land area in Europe.

  • Forest cover ranges from 1.1% in Malta to 74% in Finland.

  • Russia accounts for about 80% of Europe’s forests, and 20% of the world total.

  • The largest forest areas (outside Russia) are in Sweden, Finland, Spain, and France.

  • Primary forests, mostly in Russia, account for about 25% of the region’s forests, plantations for less than 3%.

  • Europe’s forests have many functions, often on the same area: more than 70% of Europe’s forests (not including those of Russia) provide social services such as recreation, tourism, education or conservation of cultural and spiritual sites. The area designated for protection of soil and water and for conservation of biodiversity is increasing, while that designated for wood production is decreasing.

  • There is a high proportion of private ownership in many countries of Europe e.g. about 80 % in Austria and Sweden, 72 % in Denmark and Slovenia, 68 % in Finland, and more than 90 % in Portugal.

  • Employment in forest management and conservation in Europe is decreasing, and now stands at 761,000 people, compared to just under a million in 1990.

Country details as well as the global picture are available from Christopher Prins and the Global FRA team:

Mr. Christopher Prins

Chief, UNECE/FAO Timber Branch
Palais des Nations, room 456
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Phone: +41 (0) 22 917 2874
Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 0041
E-mail: fra@fao.org

Website: http://www.fao.org/forestry/fra2005

Ref: ECE/TIM/05/P08

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05