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    Sustainable Forest Management

    The pan-European concept of SFM is a success story. Since 1993, it safeguarded a common approach for dialogue, monitoring and policymaking.

    forest europe

    But forest policy and management face emerging environmental and political challenges. We need to revisit the role of SFM. How does it relate to other concepts? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Can it serve as a balancing tool to moderate new claims on forests and its resources? We need to keep it fit for the future.

    What is SFM?

    According to the Helsinki resolution, SFM is: “the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfill, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems”

    Criteria & Indicators

    • C1

      Forest Resources & Global Carbon Cycles


      • 1.1

        Forest area Forest area has increased by 9% since 1990, although the rate of expansion is slowing down.

      • 1.2

        Growing Stock The total growing stock of European forests adds up to 34 900 million m3

      • 1.3

        Age structure and/or diameter distribution A quarter of European forests are uneven-aged

      • 1.4

        Forest carbon In the EU-28, sequestration corresponds to around 10% of gross greenhouse gas emissions. In the period 1990-2015

    • C2

      Forest Ecosystem Health and Vitality


      • 2.1

        Deposition and concentration of air pollutants Deposition of air pollution has been continuously decreasing since 1997

      • 2.2

        Soil condition Soil properties show limited changes

      • 2.3

        Defoliation The condition of European forests is apparently deteriorating, with increasing mean defoliation of the main tree species.

      • 2.4

        Forest damage About 3% of European forests are damaged, mainly by wind, insects, ungulate browsing, and forest fires.

      • 2.5

        Forest land degradation Currently pan-European reporting renders the quantitative analysis and presentation of the indicator impossible.

    • C3

      Productive Func­tions of Forests


      • 3.1

        Increment and fellings Increment in European forests substantially exceeds felling.

      • 3.2

        Roundwood Europe is an important roundwood-production region.

      • 3.3

        Non-wood goods Forests and other wooded land are an important source of non-wood goods.

      • 3.4

        Services Market realisation of forest services remains underdeveloped.

    • C4

      Forests Biological Diversity


      • 4.1

        Diversity of tree species Stands composed of two or more tree species predominate in European forests.

      • 4.2

        Regeneration The majority of European forests are naturally regenerated.

      • 4.3

        Naturalness Forests undisturbed by man cover 2.2% of European forest area

      • 4.4

        Introduced tree species Introduced tree species cover 3% of total forest area.

      • 4.5

        Deadwood Volume of deadwood corresponds to about 7% of growing stock.

      • 4.6

        Genetic resources The number of genetic conservation units has increased about 10 times since 1990.

      • 4.7

        Forest fragmentation This indicator requires to be further developed and tested.

      • 4.8

        Threatened forest species

      • 4.9

        Protected forests Protected forests account for almost a quarter of the total forest area.

      • 4.10

        Common forest bird species Populations of common forest bird species are generally stable.

    • C5

      Protective Functions (Soil & Water)


      • 5.1

        Protective forests – soil, water and other ecosystem functions – infrastructure and managed natural resources Protective forests prevent soil erosion, preserve water resources, and maintain other ecosystem services.

    • C6

      Socioeconomic Functions


      • 6.1

        Forest holdings Forest area in public and private ownership is roughly balanced in Europe.

      • 6.2

        Contribution of forest sector to GDP The forest sector contributed about 0.7% to GDP in Europe.

      • 6.3

        Net revenue Net revenue in forestry is volatile.

      • 6.4

        Investments in forests and forestry Investments in forestry show a slightly positive trend.

      • 6.5

        Forest sector workforce There are more than 2.6 million employees in the forest sector.

      • 6.6

        Occupational safety and health The reported number of fatal accidents in forestry decreased markedly.

      • 6.7

        Wood consumption About 1.1 m3 of wood is consumed annually per capita in Europe.

      • 6.8

        Trade in wood Europe is a net exporter of primary wood and paper products.

      • 6.9

        Wood energy Renewable energy from wood covers about 6.4% of total energy consumption.

      • 6.10

        Recreation in forests 70% of forests and other wooded land are available for public recreation.

    Guidelines for SFM

    Guidelines for each criterion, divided into the two parts: Forest Management Planning and Forest Management Practices, focused on basic ecological, economical and social requirements for sustainable forest management.

    Guidelines for afforestation and reforestation

    Set of recommendations to implement economically viable, environmentally sound and socially equitable afforestation and reforestation programmes and projects.

    Next event

    9th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference

    Contact Person

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    Bernhard Wolfslehner