Save America's Forests            Save The World's Forests               Save America's Forests Fund

Welcome to Save the World's Forests evaluation of protected and natural forests in Europe.
This guide includes:

History and Geography of the major forests
A list of regions that contain major protected and natural forests

A brief summary of the leading dangers to European forests
Information about protected areas
A summary of the legal framework behind the protection movement
A country by country profile highlighting the protected and natural forests status

Getting Started

Europe has more than one tenth of the world forests. Endangered animal and plant species are struggling to survive in protected areas that are either too small or too widely scattered. WWF estimates that only 2-3% of the forest estate in Western Europe and around 5-10 % in the European part of Russia can be classified as relatively intact natural forest. Of these areas, perhaps less than 50% is considered to be effectively protected.

Protected areas have been the most effective means to conserve samples of pristine forests. However, Europe's protected area network is not sufficient: only 6,3% of current forests have a protected status.

As in most parts of the world, humans have settled first in the low elevation areas with richest soil, where the giant old growth forests were, using these areas for cities and agriculture. The remaining forest areas, with trees that were too small or scattered to be economically logged, or too high elevation to reach, are what is now left. Most of these protected forest areas are in regions of poor soils, high mountains, inaccessible places. "Forests on rich soil and in the lowlands are underrepresented" Additionally, the protected areas are scattered into 37,851 patches. Most of the larger protected areas are in the Northwest (39 of the 50 largest areas are in Russia, 6 in Fennoscandia), while the southern regions are underrepresented (only 4 of the 50 largest protected areas is located in Southern-Europe)

The protection is inadequately implemented in many protected areas. Many countries allow hunting in their protected forests, they are fragmented by roads, skiing resorts, and the growth of tourism has exceeded the ecological carrying capacity of many national parks.

" Equally important is to raise the standard of forest protected area management to clearly follow the principles of biodiversity protection". One of the most potent tools is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. It supports restoration of forest biotopes in forests managed primarily for wood production. It can also decrease the pressure for commercial logging in the old-growth forests.


Save America's Forests Fund