Dreamy and eerie, forests and woods are embedded in every human-being’s cultural heritage: depending on your origin, they can be your weekend getaway from the city, the scenery of all of your scary stories, the set of the boldest adventure movies or the magic landscape for the most romantic novels. In our imagination, forests are invincible, towering on us while refreshing our spirit. People often take it for granted how forests are essential to our society and planet, and many of them ignore that they are suffering, deteriorating – in Europe as well.
Forests cover 30% of the Earth’s land area and host 80% of its biodiversity. They provide important assets such as clean air, water flow regulation, habitats for animals and plants, restoration of degraded land, soil protection from water and wind erosion, resilience to disasters and climate change. What is more, forests have a key role in climate action given their power to absorb greenhouse gases: they store large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and retain it in living and dead biomass and soil. However, since the world population is growing as well as food demand, forests are being turned into agricultural land. Between 1990 and 2016, a forest area of 1.3 million square kilometres was lost, which is equivalent to losing approximately 800 football fields of forest every hour. That can lead to serious consequences since emissions from land-use and land-use change, mostly due to deforestation, are the second biggest cause of climate change after burning fossil fuels. Actions in this area are therefore important to fight climate change.