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Germany, the land of forests – forest area unchanged Selected Results of the Third National Forest Inventory

Germany, the land of forests – forest area unchanged

One third or 11.4 million hectares of the national area of Germany is forested. Responsibility for the forests is distributed on many shoulders. Half of the German forests are privately owned.

Forest distribution in Germany
Forest distribution in Germany. Source: BMEL

Germany is a densely populated country. Over 80 million people live on 35.7 million hectares. For centuries people have inhabited and cultivated Germany intensively. We use 13% of the national area for settlements and transportation. 52% of the area is used for agriculture, making it the largest land use form in Germany followed by forests or forestry with 32%.

In recent decades, our demands on our standard of living and consumption as well as conservation of the environment have risen. This leads to growing competition between different types of land use. The facts that the forests continue to take up one third of the national area and their stands are secure are the success of the Federal Forest Act.

Between 2002 and 2012, the forest area changed only slightly. A loss of 58,000 hectares of forests contrasts 108,000 hectares of new forest area. In total, the forest area increased by 0.4% or 50,000 hectares.

Overexploitation of the forests – no thank you!

Historic development of the forested area

Forest categories. Source: BMEL

The National Forest Inventory recorded 11.4 million hectares of forests. More than 98% of these areas are accessible. The inventory teams surveyed data on these areas.

With a total of approximately 10.9 million hectares, so-called “timberland” is the largest area category (95%). Most of the results of the National Forest Inventory refer to timberland. The remaining almost 328,000 hectares or 3% of the forest area consist of “unstocked forest land.” It has important functions for forestry (e.g. as landings), for recreation (e.g. forest tracks) and as a habitat for light and warmth-seeking animal and plant species. The diverse benefits of the forest emanate from its entire area.

What exactly is a forest?