Forests and society
European forests belong to around 16 million private and public forest owners. In the EU, about 60% of the forest area is privately owned and 40% public.
Citizens living in Europe appreciate forests for the many societal benefits they provide, and literally all of them consume forest-based products ranging from furniture to paper products. However, when asked about their perceptions of forests and their benefits, environmental benefits are the most well-known, and receive the highest appreciation.
Forests have positive proven effects on physical, mental and social health as well as individual well-being. This is important during crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in the public health context in tackling chronic problems such as obesity, depression, and the related loss of work days. The impacts of forests on human health and well-being can be indirect or direct in nature, but are generally found to lead to both short-term and long-term health improvements.
Forests and trees contribute to climate-smart cities in two ways: by providing renewable, bio-based products (particularly for construction and renovation), and by providing ecosystem services important for climate management and well-being.
Most of the forests in the EU (85%) are available for timber supply, which is an important pillar of the forest’s role in income generation, employment and the transition towards a bioeconomy. Forests provide the materials for both traditional and new wood-based products and their related sectors and value chains.