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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

The EU forest-based industries consist of four major sectors: woodworking, furniture, pulp and paper manufacturing and converting, and printing. The European Commission's objective is to facilitate the legislative and policy framework within which the forest-based industries operate to help maintain their competitiveness. This is achieved through stimulating growth and innovation, facilitating access to key inputs, ensuring a business-friendly environment in the EU, and a fair level playing field on global markets.

Why EU forest-based industries are important

  • EU Economy - forest-based industries represent about 7% of EU manufacturing GDP. In 2011, they had a combined production value of €460 billion, with a total added value of €135 billion on a turnover of €485 billion.
  • Employment – forest-based industries provide nearly 3.5 million jobs across over 400 thousand companies, most of which are small and medium-sized or micro enterprises. Raw material used by the forest-based industries provides income to around 16 million forest owners in the EU.
  • Rural areas – the industries help maintain employment and wealth generation in rural areas.
  • Low-carbon bio-economy – the industries have expertise in wood and wood fibre, which is a natural renewable bio-based resource with carbon storage properties. It is currently at the forefront of developing a low-carbon bio-economy.

On this website

The Blueprint for the EU Forest-based Industries

The 2013 Blueprint accompanying the new EU forest strategy and the associated staff working document underlines that the industry has to address a number of challenges to remain competitive. More on the Blueprint and the strategy for forest-based industries.

Guidance on cascading use of woody biomass

The Guidance on cascading use of woody biomass lays out principles of cascading use of woody biomass. It also introduces a broader approach to maximise the value of the resource and to prevent waste through parallel and consecutive uses. The document is non-binding. An annex presents good practices from diverse regions and fields.

This staff working document fulfils part of the 2015 circular economy action plan. In the process, stakeholders from industry, civil society, and public authorities were consulted.

See the Guidance on cascading use of woody biomass.

Sustainable forest management

EU forests are subject to national laws and international commitments to ensure their sustainability. Sustainable forest management is monitored and can be confirmed by certification processes. More on sustainable forest management.


The EU woodworking industries include the production of sawn wood, wood-based panels, and wooden construction materials and products. About 70 % of the wood in the EU is used in construction and furnishings. More on woodworking.

Furniture industry

EU furniture manufacturers have a good reputation worldwide thanks to their creative capacity for new designs and responsiveness to new demands. The industry is able to combine new technologies and innovation with cultural heritage and style, and provides jobs for highly skilled workers. More on furniture industry.

Pulp and paper industry

The pulp and paper manufacturing sector is energy and raw materials intensive, with high capital costs and long investment cycles. The industry has an excellent track record in resource efficiency and innovation. More on pulp and paper industry.

Printing industry

The printing industry has a long tradition in Europe. The sector is interconnected with other forest-based industries such as woodworking, pulp, and paper. It is an important employer, providing jobs for highly skilled and qualified staff. More on printing industry.

EU Forest Resources

Forests and other wooded land occupy over 44 % of the EU's surface and represent 5 % of the world's forests. In the last 50 years, both their area and the standing timber volume (growing stock) have continued to grow. Nowadays, they gain almost 700,000 Ha annually. For more information, see the Natura 2000 website.

There are 4 major forest regions in the EU:

  • boreal
  • central
  • alpine
  • Mediterranean

While forests occur in all major EU regions, they are more concentrated in mountainous areas and in northern EU countries. EU forests are varied, usually having mixtures of both coniferous and non-coniferous trees. The ownership of these forests varies between countries but they are on average 40% publically owned by state or local authorities and 60% privately owned by individuals, companies, or churches.


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