Wood mobilization and European Forests
The European forest-based sector is well aware that its own future is linked to the protection and expansion of its forests. This, together with regulations requiring the reforestation of harvested trees and the development of certification schemes, gives the stability needed in order for the forests to continue to thrive.
All European countries have policies and practices requiring reforestation. Although the number of trees planted per hectare will vary depending upon the species, site and management system, it will always be more than the number cut, in order to allow for natural losses and for the forest to be well stocked. Therefore there need be no confusion between deforestation in tropical regions – e.g. due to poverty or forest conversion for agricultural purposes – and forest management practices in Europe.
Europe is the only region to have a positive net change in forest area for the past 20 years. Europe has gained 5.1 million ha of forest and other forest land since 2005 and 16.69 million ha since 1990. The total standing volume in Europe in 2010 amounted to 96,252 million cubic metres, of which 21,750 million cubic metres are in 27 EU countries. The net annual increment within the EU 27 is estimated at 620 million cubic metres.
In practice, however, just 64% of the net annual increment is harvested. A better mobilization of wood shold be encouraged, specifically by supporting forest owners’ initiatives aimed at improving market access and giving them a stronger incentive to practice forest management.