Forest: growing stock, increment and fellings (SEBI 017) - Assessment published May 2010
Biodiversity (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- SEBI 017
Key policy question: Is forestry in Europe sustainable in terms of the balance between increment of growing stock and felling?
The ratio of felling to increment is relatively stable at around 60 %. This favourable utilization rate prevails across Europe, with the exception of Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and has allowed growing stock to increase.
Forest utilisation rate in 2005 (annual increment in growing stock as a percentage of annual felling) for countries in the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE)
Note: This map shows the forest utilisation rate in 2005 (annual increment in growing stock as a percentage of annual felling) for countries in the MCPFE
- State of Europe´s Forests 2007 provided by Forest Europe (MCPFE)
Balance between felling and increment on forest available for wood supply
Note: Growing stock decreases if the ratio of felling to increment is under 100 %.
Incremental production has increased continuously throughout Europe and felling has generally increased proportionally. In general, the amount of wood felled has been less than that planted and added as incremental growth. This has allowed a build up of the growing stock. The growing stock in Europe is increasing from a low level after clearances for agriculture and charcoal production in recent centuries. On the European scale, the area of forests probably reached its lowest level at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century (Kirby and Watkins, 1998, in Agnoletti, 2000).
Of the several factors that have contributed to the build up of growing stock, forest management is considered the most important. As shown in Map 1, the 'utilisation rate', which is the percentage of annual felling in relation to the net annual increment, varies considerably between countries but remains generally below the 'sustainability limit' of 100 %. A more in-depth analysis of the forest utilisation rate should preferably be conducted at a more detailed geographical level, taking into account age-class distribution and the silvicultural system. From a biodiversity point of view, such an analysis should also specifically address the proportion of older age classes in the stock and the type of forest management employed.
The ratio of felling to increment is forecast to increase to between 70 % and 80 % by 2010. This is due to an expected increase in demand for wood in the wider European region due to factors such as the development of eastern European markets (MCPFE, 2007; Schelhaas et al., 2006).
Of course the sustainability of forests cannot be measured by a ratio of felling and increment alone. This particular indicator addresses just one aspect of the sustainability of the forest sector. While maintaining felling below incremental production is a necessary condition for sustainability, it is not sufficient on its own. For a more comprehensive assessment, a complete set of forestry sector indicators is needed such as the 35 indicators within six criteria used in reports to the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE)(1).
Moreover, the felling-to-increment ratio indicator does not capture whether the increment is from forestry that is being managed in a biodiversity friendly way or not. It is not apparent whether increment is due to increased use of fertiliser or the planting of fast-growing alien species, for example.
(1) Criterion 4 is 'Maintenance, Conservation and Appropriate Enhancement of Biological Diversity in Forest Ecosystems'. Nine indicators are defined within this criterion: tree species composition; regeneration; naturalness; introduced tree species; deadwood; geneticresources; landscape pattern; threatened forest species; and protected forests.
- Kirby, K. J. and Watkins, C., 1998. 'Introduction: Historical Ecology and European Woodland'. In: Kirby, K.J. and Watkins, C. (eds.), 1998. The Ecological History of European Forests. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK.
- Agnoletti, M., 2000. 'Introduction: Factors and Processes in the History of Forest Resources'. In: Agnoletti, M. and Anderson, S. (eds), Forest History: International Studies on Socio-economic Change. Report No. 2 of the IUFRO Task Force on Environmental Change. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK.
- MCPFE, 2007. State of Europe's Forests 2007. Jointly prepared by the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe Liaison Unit Warsaw, UNECE and FAO. Available at: http://www.mcpfe.org/files/u1/publications/pdf/state_of_europes_forests_2007.pdf [Accessed 23 June 2008]
- Schelhaas, M-J.; Van Brusselen, J.; Pussinen, A.; Pesonen, E.; Schuck, A.; Nabuurs, G-J. and Sasse, V., 2006. Outlook for the Development of European Forest Resources. A study prepared for the European Forest Sector Outlook Study (EFSOS). Geneva Timber and Forest Discussion Paper 41. United Nations Food Economic Commission for Europe and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ECE/TIM/DP/41. Available at. www.unece.org/timber/docs/dp/dp-41.pdf [Accessed 11 May 2009].
- MCPFE: www.mcpfe.org.
- European Forest Insititute: www.efi.int.
Fellings as percent of net annual increment [%]
provided by Forest Europe (MCPFE)
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoKatarzyna Biala
EEA Management Plan2010 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
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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