Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
MAIN ADVANTAGES OF THE INDICATOR
- Biodiversity relevance: deadwood is a measure of habitat quality relevant for thousands of European forest organisms, several of which are threatened. Data on deadwood can be collected at relatively low cost in national forest inventories and the indicator is reported by countries according to agreed definitions.
- Accepted methodology.
- Geographical coverage: pan-European.
- No rationale references available
This indicator shows the volume of standing and lying deadwood in forest and other wooded land, classified by forest type (Forest Europe - Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE)). In national forest inventories, countries generally classify according to type (standing, snags, lying, species and state of decay).
Policy context and targets
Deadwood (coarse woody debris) in the form of snags (dead standing trees) and logs (dead lying trees) is a habitat for a wide array of organisms and, after humification, an important component of forest soil. During some parts of their life cycle, some species are dependent on finding a place to live either on the surface or in the cavities/protected places of dead or dying wood of moribund or dead trees (standing and fallen), or upon wood-inhabiting fungi or other species. Because of a lack of deadwood in multipurpose forests, many of the species dependent on deadwood are endangered.
At present it is still debated what amount of deadwood is required in order to maintain the most valuable species and under what circumstances the accumulated deadwood component may give rise to a risk for insect outbreaks.
Relation of the indicator to the focal area
Decaying wood habitats are important components of biodiversity in European forests and recognised as an indicator for assessing and monitoring biodiversity as well as sustainable forest management.
2020 EU biodiversity targets - target 3: Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to biodiversity
Related policy documents
EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy
in the Communication: Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 (COM(2011) 244) the European Commission has adopted a new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. There are six main targets, and 20 actions to help Europe reach its goal. The six targets cover: - Full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity - Better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure - More sustainable agriculture and forestry - Better management of fish stocks - Tighter controls on invasive alien species - A bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss
Key policy question
What is the trend in the amount of deadwood in Europe’s forests?
Methodology for indicator calculation
Definition of terms:
Terminology is well defined for international reporting by Forest Europe. Deadwood (coarse woody debris) as such, and the methodology for reporting its volume are thus defined according to Forest Europe standards.
On a national scale, the monitoring of deadwood is carried out in several National Forest Inventories (NFIs). Work towards the harmonisation of terminology is carried out by the COST E43 action. This comprises type classification (standing, bending, lying) as well as potentially important additional parameters (uprooted stems, clearcut stems, pieces of stems, cut branches, uprooted staves, logging residues, fine woody debris, intact snags, broken snags, broken, lying stems without uprooting). There are several approaches to register state of decay, most commonly this is classified in five classes. Noting the tree species is desirable but data are not collected by everybody.
MCPFE has defined the following reporting of the indicator "Deadwood":
- Status: m3/ha.
- Changes: m3/ha/yr.
Figures to be reported on
- Volume of dead standing trees (snags) and lying trees (logs) on forest area and
other wooded land, classified by forest type.
Minimum length and diameter of standing and lying dead trees
- Length: 2 m.
- Diameter: It is up to the countries to define the minimum size of diameter to be
reported. It is recommended that the minimum size be:
Standing deadwood: 10 cm d.b.h.
Lying deadwood: 10 cm mean diameter.
Methodology for gap filling
- European forest types -- Categories and types for sustainable forest management reporting and policy EEA, 2006. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark. EEA Technical report No 9/2006.
- Status based on national forest inventories FBI 2003 (Forest biodiversity indicators in the Nordic countries)
- Terms and definitions (Final version) FRA 2005 (Global forest resources assessment update) (2005). FAO Forestry Department. Rome, 2004
- Terminology of Forest Management. Terms and Definitions in EnglisH IUFRO (2000). IUFRO World Series Vol. 9-en. IUFRO Secretariat Vienna. SilvaTerm Database
- Forest resources in Europe 1950-1990 Kuusela, K. 1994. Cambridge University Press.
- TBFRA Supplementary Enquiry for Data on Protected and Protective Forests and Other Wooded Land MCPFE (2000). MCPFE and UNECE, Geneva.
- MCPFE Assessment Guidelines for Protected and Protective Forest and Other Wooded Land in Europe as adopted by the MCPFE Expert Level Meeting MCPFE (2002). 10- 11 June 2002, Vienna, Austria.
- State of Europe's Forests 2003 MCPFE (2003). The MCPFE Report on Sustainable Forest Management in Europe. Jointly prepared by MCPFE Liaison Unit Vienna and UNECE/FAO. Vienna.
- Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005 UNECE/FAO (2005). Data for Europe, United Nations, New York and Geneva.
- Communication from Mr. Almunia to the members of the Commission SEC(2005) 161 final. Sustainable Development Indicators to monitor the implementation of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy.
- Forest Resources of Europe, CIS, North America, Australia, Japan and New Zealand (TBFRA 2000) UNECE/FAO (2000). Main report. UNECE/FAO Contribution to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000. United Nations, New York and Geneva.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
No uncertainty has been specified
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
MAIN DISADVANTAGES OF THE INDICATOR
- The indicator is a general measure on habitat quality. It will not, at least not in international reporting, be possible to evaluate the indicator with respect to specific organisms, e.g. threatened species.
- A minimum level of required deadwood to create suitable habitats in multifunctional forests is not yet defined. This will probably have to be done when developing management plans at landscape or stand scales. Huge amounts of deadwood may also be a risk (insect calamities, fire).
- Methodology to measure deadwood differs between countries. Some countries also include tree stumps in the calculations. Numbers may also be influenced by the share of undisturbed forest (in which case figures for deadwood may reflect the share of undisturbed forest instead of the real amount of deadwood in production forests).
ANALYSIS OF OPTIONS
The 35 MCPFE quantitative indicators (http://www.mcpfe.org/documents/r_2007/ici)
all relate to sustainable forestry management. From this set, those with most direct relevance to biodiversity were selected.
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact Info
Frequency of updates
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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