The EEA report European forest ecosystems: state and trends, gives an updated health check on how our forests are coping with the many challenges they face. It assesses whether forest ecosystems can still manage to play their part providing key ‘services’ for the environment. Forests help regulate our climate and sustain watersheds, providing clean water. They also act as ‘carbon sinks’, clean the air we breathe and help preserve and protect biodiversity as many species depend on forests for their home. There is a growing awareness of the important role forests play in mitigating climate change, in particular after the .
The report identifies habitat loss and degradation, the risk posed by invasive alien species, pollution and climate change as the top four challenges European forests face today. These threats, combined with economic activities such as logging, urban sprawl, or the increasing use of forests by humans for leisure, make forests more vulnerable to degradation.
To tackle these problems and to improve the protection of forests, the report calls for enhanced research and data collection on a European level, tapping into national forest inventories and monitoring to better track changes in forest cover and conditions. It also calls for EU policies to take forest activities more into account.
Enhanced coordination among stakeholders, forest owners, timber industry, policy makers, and the general public is needed to improve the sustainable management of forests, not only when it comes to timber production but also on the use of forests for other ecosystem services.