Europe's Forests Are Flourishing More Than Ever

Europe has successfully reforested an area of land roughly the size of Portugal. 

Aug 17, 2019

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Over the past two decades, Europe has successfully reforested an area of land roughly the size of Portugal. 

You read that right. While many regions are still destroying their forest cover, Europe has been making strides to maintain its lush woodlands. 

This is largely due to conservation efforts such as protected areas, and also due to certain countries like France who have reduced the area of agricultural land. In total, about 182 million hectares - or 42 percent of the EU’s total land area - is currently covered by trees! 

The European countries with the most amount of forest cover are Sweden with 30 million hectares of land, Finland with 24 million, and Spain with 27 million.

EU countries with the most amount of forests as compared proportionately to the total land area include Finland with 70 percent forest cover, Sweden with 67 percent, and Slovenia with 64 percent. The Netherlands, Malta, and Denmark are ranked as the least wooded countries in the EU relative to total land area.

Trees play a critical role in providing oxygen, habitats for wildlife, and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere- thus mitigating climate change. In fact, the Amazon Rainforest alone provides 20 percent of all the oxygen on earth.

EU forests absorb nine percent of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions- approximately 417 million tons of CO2.

It is important to note that a significant amount of the forests in Europe are for human consumption, meaning that they are grown for products such as paper and timber. These managed forests are better than no forests, but for proper carbon sequestration (storage), habitats for animals, and biodiversity sake, natural forests are critical. That's why the global community should still increase efforts to minimize forest loss.

Animal agriculture is the largest single industry that is causing deforestation. So a really easy way to protect these vital ecosystems is by reducing our consumption of beef.

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.