Story Protected Forest Areas in Europe Need Harmonisation

We still lack a clear picture on the area of forests protected in Europe, according to analysis of the diversity of national and international categories of protected forest areas in Europe completed under the EU COST Action E27.  

Release date 02/05/2007
Contributor Rania Spyropoulou
Geographical coverage EU - European Union, Europe
Keywords protected area
Concerned URL

It is estimated that the total number of all protected areas in Europe amounts to approximately 65 000 - 70 000 sites many of which include forest. The COST Action E27 “Protected forest areas – analysis and harmonisation” comprises an analysis of a whole range of protected forest area categories  in compliance with existing international categories for protected areas.  The results show a clear separation between restrictions, which pertain to timber resources and silvicultural management (mostly in Northern Europe in contries with a high share of forested areas and relatively low population density) and those relating to non-timber production and public access (mostly in the Mediterranean and Atlantic countries, with a high population density and low forest cover).   Results showed considerable variation between two international classification systems assessed. They are namely The World Conservation Union (IUCN) ‘Protected Area Management Categories’ and the ‘Assessment Guidelines for Protected and Protective Forest and Other Wooded Land in Europe’ of the Ministerial Conference on the Protection in Europe (MCPFE). A considerable confusion exists and, to date, no harmonised and comparable dataset on Protected Forest Areas in Europe is available. To start with, the definition of forest alone varies quite considerably across Europe.  

Based on the results of the evaluation, a number of recommendations to improve the quality and comparability of the statistics have been compiled.


The final publication now availableThe final publication entitled ‘Protected forest areas in Europe – analysis and harmonisation (PROFOR): Results, conclusions and recommendations’ has been published in March 2007 and is now available. It can be acquired directly or ordered on-line in