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French forest General information and evolution

General information and evolution

Forest area in Europe currently amounts to 215 million ha and accounts for 33% of the total land area. The degree of forest cover varies among countries in Europe. While the most extensive forest cover (53%) is found in Northern Europe, South-East Europe is the least forested region in Europe (23%) (State of Europe’s Forests, 2015).

France is the fourth country after Sweden (28.0 Mha), Finland (22.8 Mha) and Spain (18.4 Mha) in terms of forest area. Indeed, the French forest area reaches 16.8 millions of hectares (covering 31% of the territory).

Source: State of Europe’s Forests 2011

Since the second half of the XIXth century, growth has been constant. In 1830, the wooded area in France was assessed between 8.9 and 9.5 million of hectares (Cinotti, 1996). Since 1980, the annual expansion recorded by the NFI is up to 90 000 hectares.

Evolution of the forest surface area over the last 30 years

This important growth was mainly due to:
- the rural exodus
- the post-war agricultural revolution
- the land afforestation by the Fonds forestier national (FFN): 2 millions of hectares of trees planted between 1947 and 1999
- and the poursuit of the mountain reafforestation.
Since the past 10 years, this growth has been going on.

Afforestation rate in 1908

Afforestation rate in 2016

- Forest area (Forest inventory 2014-2018)

QuantityEstimate (1,000 ha)Share of total land area (%)Description
Production forest 15,932 ± 114 29 Forest available for wood supply
Other forests 875 ± 53 1.6 Forest non available for wood supply (protection status, military area, inaccessibility)
Forest land 16,814 ± 109 31 Area >0.5 ha, min 20m wide, min. crown cover of 10%, min. height of trees 5m maturity in situ
Other land 38,129 ± 110 69 All land that is not classified as forest land
Total land area 54,943 100