Climate change: Better using EU forests as carbon sinks

The EU has launched several initiatives to reduce emissions. As forests play a crucial role in capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that would otherwise contribute to global warming, the EU is working on rules to increase its carbon sinks.

Parliament voted in favour of an update of the rules governing the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector on 8 June.

Read on to find out key facts and figures about forests in EU countries and what Parliament is proposing to strengthen their capacity to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The importance of forests in the EU: Key facts

EU forests absorb the equivalent of 7% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions every year.

The EU boasts 159 million hectares of forest, covering 43.5% of its land area. Forest coverage can vary considerably from one EU country to another, from just over 10% in Malta to close to 70% in Finland.

In addition to serving as carbon sinks, forests provide numerous ecosystem services: they help to protect the soil from erosion, form part of the water cycle, protect biodiversity by providing a habitat for numerous species, and regulate the local climate.