European forests cover 189 million hectares, close to 40 per cent of the total area of the region.
This forested area has increased due to reforestation policies in depopulated rural areas, especially in mountainous terrain and other regions with low agricultural productivity. This has allowed European forests to reclaim land used for agriculture and pasture during recent centuries.
This means that European forests are usually very close to human activity and therefore play a major role in new economic models based on local, renewable natural resources.
Wood is the primary product of European forests. But cork, resins and aromatic plants are important secondary products, and services like tourism, biodiversity, water quality and soil protection are also key outputs. All these products and services need to be responsibly looked after for future generations.
The diversity of European forests is vast, ranging from the Mediterranean evergreen macchia, through mountain and boreal forests of pine and spruce, to multi-species deciduous oak and riparian forests. These different forest ecosystems host the majorityof the region’s terrestrial biodiversity.
Private forest owners play a crucial role in European forestry, owning nearly half of the total forested area, and often managing very small plots of forest land.
FSC has been active in Europe since it was founded in 1993. Twelve National Forest Stewardship Standards have been approved by FSC in Europe, and Certification Body interim standards are operational in countries where these have yet to be developed. Visit the National Standard update section of this site to read and download FSC National Forest Stewardship Standards in Europe.