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Latvia and Estonia among EU's top-5 countries covered by forests

BC, Riga, 28.10.2013.Print version
Estonia and Latvia are among the European Union's top five countries covered by forests and other wooded areas, according to a study carried out by the European Commission, informs LETA.

The study shows that there are only five countries in the EU, where forests cover more than 50% of total land area – Sweden (76%), Finland (72%), Estonia (61%), Slovenia (60%) and Latvia (56%).


Lithuania is 11th with forests and other wooded areas covering 39% of total land area.


Ireland and the Netherlands (13% each), as well as Malta (5%), are at the bottom of the list.


Forests cover 159 million hectares in the EU, 38% of the bloc's territory.


In 2012, forests and other wooded land occupied around 40% of the total area of the EU, cropland a quarter and grassland a further fifth, while artificial areas1, such as buildings, road and rail networks accounted for 5%.


These data are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union and are based on a large scale land survey, the Land Use/Cover Area frame Survey (LUCAS), conducted most recently in 2012. LUCAS is the largest harmonised land survey ever implemented in the EU, with data collected in 27 EU Member States by 750 field surveyors at 270 000 points. At each of these points, the field surveyors recorded the land cover and land use and took photographs. These photographs can be found in the LUCAS Photo viewer in the Statistical Atlas on the Eurostat website. By clicking on one of the points, access will be given to the photos collected at each point as well as to additional information, such as the size of the plot and the type of land cover, informs LETA/ELTA.


LUCAS data forms the basis for spatial and territorial analyses which are increasingly important for planning and management of agricultural, forest, water and urban areas and mitigation of the impact of natural hazards and climate change.


In Sweden (76% of total land area), Finland (72%), Estonia (61%), Slovenia (60%) and Latvia (56%) more than half of the country is covered by forests and other wooded areas. The highest shares of cropland are observed in Denmark (49%), Hungary (47%), Romania (36%), the Czech Republic and Poland (both 34%), Germany (33%), Bulgaria and Italy (both 32%) and France (31%). Ireland (67%) has more than two thirds of the country covered by natural or agricultural grasslands, followed by the United Kingdom (40%), the Netherlands (38%), Luxembourg (37%) and Belgium (32%).


Finland (16%), Sweden (12%) and the Netherlands (11%) have the largest proportions of water areas, while Cyprus (21%), Greece (19%), Malta (15%), Spain and Portugal (both 12%) had the highest proportions of shrub land.


A third of Malta is covered with built-up and other artificial areas, followed by Belgium (13%), Luxembourg and the Netherlands (both 12%).


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