Latest research indicates changes in forest ownership patterns
A compendium of 28 country reports on forest ownership and its changes in Europe has been published by the European COST Action FACESMAP.

The collection of country reports provides an overview of the forest ownership structures and respective changes in the countries and highlights specific issues and developments. Based on the results, four main types of on-going trends of forest ownership change in Europe have been identified:

  • In Eastern and Southeast Europe, the restitution and privatisation of forest land, which started in 1990, is still on-going, causing still several challenges in further developing a strong, economically viable, independent private forest sector. In other countries, such as Norway, Sweden and United Kingdom, the privatization of forest land is identified as an important trend to some extent.
  • In countries, such as Estonia, Latvia and Romania, a new type of forest ownership has been identified, as forests are increasingly bought by foreign investors or investment funds.
  • In Ireland, Latvia, Norway, Poland and United Kingdom, afforestation has been identified as quite an important trend as it may bring new ownership when former agricultural and other land is converted into forests.
  • For the Western and Northern part of Europe the authors have identified a certain change of perception, motivation and attitude towards owning forests, in particular due to changes in lifestyle patterns. Furthermore it was noted that these trends are fairly difficult to measure in a standardized way across countries. However, some of the indicators identified show that most of these changes are caused by decreasing farming, aging population, depopulation within rural areas or also new objectives and goals for forest management.

The country reports comprise data from researchers’ own expertise, expert interviews, various studies’ results as well as official statistics, covering aspects such as forest management and policy developments. Case studies are also included in the report and are used as examples for illustration and to gain a better understanding of the reasons for change.  

CEPF welcomes the report as it helps to gain a better understanding of the highly diverse and complex European forest ownership structures. Furthermore the study explores new innovative approaches and actions for future forest management and emphasises the need to further strengthen private forest owners’ structures and representation in many countries.

For further information about the COST Action FP1201 FACESMAP, please refer to:

The full version of the report can be found below.