Forest certification map of Europe
Forests cover nearly 40% of European land, with different country percentage and patchy distribution. The European forestry sector highlights that forest areas have different ownership: private (by firms, individual, or organizations) and public (State, communities or municipalities). The number of forestry holdings, size of landholding, and ownership types influence and drive forest management, governance and various other socio-economic linked issues. Moreover, forest owners determine management objectives and policies which influence the application of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) practices. Several tools were developed to promote SFM, including forest certification. Numerous forest certification schemes are present across the world but the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) are those prevalent. However, a map of certified forests is lacking, although mapping would be essential to locate the percentage of forest that are certified to be sustainably managed. The study mapped forest certification across 43 European states, according to 499 FSC and 284 PEFC reports and assessed the proportion of certified forest area on public and private land and the rate of increase. This research was carried out collecting information on European certified forest companies/owners and locating geographically their forests at sub-national level (regions, NUTS 2). The database of the Joint COST Action FACESMAP/UNECE/FAO was an important data source. At European level, about six percent of the forest is certified under FSC scheme, while about seven percent under PEFC scheme. As forest certification is a useful tool to manage forests aiming at the integration of economic, ecological and social sustainability, the knowledge of the location and area of certified forest in Europe could be important in motivating decision makers to increase these sustainably managed areas.