Forests and society

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Who owns the forests and how are they managed?

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.

What do people think about forests in the EU?

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.

How can forests improve human health and wellbeing?

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.

How can trees and forests support sustainable and climate friendly cities?

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.

How does forest management and the use of wood contribute to economic prosperity and employment?

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.

How can we govern Europe's forests for multiple ecosystem services?

Europe’s forests provide multiple forest ecosystem services (FES) including wood, carbon sequestration, habitats, and nature for recreation. The EU Green Deal gives strong momentum for a future European forest policy to incentivise the provision of multiple FES. Four policy pathways can translate this momentum into action.

How can we make Payments for Environmental Services work?

Given the double global crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss, stimulating forest owners to improve their forest management has become ever more important. Economic incentives such as payments for environmental (or “ecosystem”) services (PES) could help to better align supply and demand for forest environmental services, such as watershed protection or carbon storage.

Published on 21.11.2022