Our achievements

Our forests are facing unprecedented challenges due to climate change and related natural disturbances, pests and diseases. According to the latest European Forest Fire report , “three of the worst fire seasons on record took place in the last six years” [1].

These uncertainties make forest management decisions increasingly complex and challenging, given that the ecological, economic and societal expectations put on forests for the next years or decades to come are not guaranteed. At the same time, societal demands on forests and forest management are steadily increasing, whether regarding wood supply, carbon sequestration and storage, biodiversity conservation, or even recreational areas.

We are also expected to deliver on numerous, and sometimes conflicting demands, for example: setting fire breaks to limit the propagation of forest fires and ensure access to firefighters, goes against the notion of avoiding fragmentation of forests for landscape and biodiversity purposes.

By managing our forests in a sustainable way over the last decades, we have contributed to:

  • Increasing forest area by 14.4 million ha [2], equal to almost five times the size of Belgium;
  • Increasing the carbon stock in EU forests by 48% [3];
  • Providing a renewable raw material that offers sustainable alternatives to fossil-based materials and energy needed in our daily life as part of an EU bio-based economy;
  • Increasing long-term carbon storage in wood products;
  • Preserving and enhancing biodiversity by providing various habitats for fauna and flora [4];
  • Providing clear and fresh water as well as clean air;
  • Increasing the volume of wood in forests by 8.5 billion m3, including high-quality wood for long-life uses [5];
  • Providing non-wood forest products such as mushrooms, berries, nuts, and medicinal plants;
  • Providing jobs and strengthening social cohesion in rural areas with around 3,6 million people directly employed in the forest and forest-based sector [6];
  • Protecting people, homes, and infrastructures against natural hazards (avalanches, floods, rock falls, landslides);
  • Maintaining and opening places for recreation and cultural services benefiting human well-being.

Until now, the work we have done with passion has significantly contributed to providing many of these high-value ecosystem services to society for free. While people are well aware of the benefits they receive from forests, they may not always realise that these have been made possible by us, the people behind the trees.