Title: Forest Landscape in Europe: Pattern, Fragmentation and Connectivity
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2012
JRC N°: JRC77295
ISBN: 978-92-79-28118-1
ISSN: 1831-9424
Other Identifiers: EUR 25717
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC77295
DOI: 10.2788/77842
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: The JRC demonstrated the feasibility to assess and report in a harmonized manner, forest landscape pattern and fragmentation in Europe, on the basis of an easily reproducible set of indices. Results were used in the Forest EUROPE, UN ECE and FAO joint ministerial reporting process on the protection of forests in Europe where data on forest pattern do not exist from national forest inventories. In the EU, 40% of the forest lands are within a 100m distance from other lands, thus potentially less suitable as interior habitat and more likely to be exposed to invasive species, pests and diseases. Forest edges are also mainly (60%) along intensive land uses. In Europe, 40% of woodlands have in their 1km2 surroundings a mosaic landscape of other natural/semi-natural lands, agriculture and artificial lands, 15% of woodlands are strongly fragmented by mainly intensive land uses. Landscapes with woodlands poorly connected represent 70% of the European territory and are potentially more vulnerable to further fragmentation in the future. National profiles of forest pattern were also provided. The mitigation of ecosystem fragmentation is also important in new targets of the European Biodiversity strategy to 2020. By affecting ecological processes, fragmentation affects ecosystem services such as habitat provision, pollination, and has also an impact on pest propagation in different ways. Forest area is still increasing in Europe at an annual rate of 0.4% but the JRC assessment showed that new forest areas do not always enhance connectivity. For example, in the Iberian Peninsula, the net forest gain in the 1990-2006 period had no impact on connectivity for nearly 10% of the landscapes. Further, the forest fragmentation processes that were found need to be captured at landscape level. They consist of minor forest losses due to intensive agriculture, transport infrastructures, settlements and fires. These findings support the consideration of forest spatial pattern in sustainable forest management plans for a regional landscape planning of clearings and re/afforestation measures.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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