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European Forests

Fern’s aim is to push for forestry practice and conservation in Europe which halt biodiversity loss and protect important habitats.

Fern’s analysis: Of all ecosystems, forests are home to the largest number of species on the continent and provide important environmental functions, such as the conservation of biodiversity and the protection of water and soil. In the EU, forests and other wooded land now cover 155 million ha and 21 million ha respectively (more than 42 per cent of the EU land area). The majority of these forests consist of semi-natural stands and plantations and only about 5 per cent of the forests are “natural or undisturbed by human activity”. Thirty per cent of pan-European forests are now dominated by one single tree species, 50 per cent are forests of 2 or 3 species. About 87 per cent of European forests (excluding the Russian Federation) are even aged (MCPFE, State of European forests 2007).

EU powers over forest management in Member States are limited, and consequently, policies affecting forests are found under a range of topics such as environment, rural development, industry, trade, etc. However, these policies are often not coherent and are not effective enough to guarantee improved forest management and increased forest protection. 


To learn more about this campaign: the best documents to read is Funding forests into the future


Most recent publications

Forestwatch Issue 149 May 2010

  • World Bank begins palm oil consultation
  • CAP reform: speak up
  • Legal timber trade in Cameroon: How far from paper to practice?
  • Additional measures needed to protect forests
  • EU Ecolabel revisited
  • Bolivia: Putting people in climate talks 
PDF iconFW 149 May 2010.pdf182.57 KB

What changes are needed? The implementation of EU's Rural Development Policy

This report follows up FERN’s earlier study “Funding forests into the future? How the European Fund for Rural Development affects Europe’s forests”. It focuses on how national programmes – and more specifically their forestry measures – have been implemented in six countries. The key questions that are looked at in the report include: What, if anything, have the individual countries done to address the issues raised in 2008, and can implementation of the RDPs do anything to improve forestry management practices and encourage forest conservation? 


PDF iconWhat changes are needed.pdf1.06 MB

Forestwatch Issue 148 April 2010

  • The FLEGT process continues to give a voice to civil society
  • Time to end subsidies that harm biodiversity
  • Dutch NGOs lodge a complaint concerning MTCS
  • EU Ecolabel – Not so green
  • Disingenuous biofuels numbers
PDF iconFW 148 April 2010.pdf195.87 KB

NGO participation in the rural development policy

Forests cover more than 42 per cent of European Union (EU) land, almost as large an area as is covered by agricultural production. Most support for forest practices in the EU comes from Rural Development policy, the second pillar of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

On paper, the current Rural Development Regulation requires consultations to take place at different levels (known as the ‘partnership principle’). In practice however, the input of stakeholders can still be improved.

PDF iconOPEN1.42 MB

The lack of coherence between national rural development programmes and EU environmental commitments

The European Union (EU) is signatory to several environmental commitments, including the Göteborg commitments to reserve biodiversity decline by 2010 and the Kyoto Protocol targets for climate change mitigation. These commitments should be supported by EU policies such as the Rural Development Regulation. This briefing note looks at the expected effect of six EU Member States’ rural development programmes, and finds that, all too often, they are likely to undermine rather than support the EU’s environmental commitments.

PDF iconOPEN1.55 MB

Is the rural development policy supporting good forest management and biodiversity conservation?

The European Union’s (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the largest EU source of support for forest practices. This money sits under the Rural Development pillar of the CAP and the policy which guides this funding is the Rural Development Regulation (RDR). This briefing note considers whether the RDR is contributing to good forest management and biodiversity conservation by looking at both afforestation measures and Natura 2000 (forest) payments of six countries.

PDF iconOPEN1.92 MB