Indicator: Sustainable forestry

A graph shows the percentage of woodland area certified under the PEFC or FSC sustainability standards from 2000 to 2023. In 2023, the PEFC covered 79.4 percent and the FSC 14.6 percent. The graph also shows the target for 2010.Click to enlarge
Proportion of forest area certified under PEFC or FSC
Source: FSC and PEFC Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • After a sharp rise between 2000 and 2003, the proportion of PEFC certified areas has stagnated until 2019. In 2023, the share was 10 percentage points higher than in 2019.
  • Overall, the proportion of areas certified under FSC has developed very well since 2000. The proportion is far below that of PECF certified areas, however.
  • The Federal Government wanted the forested area in Germany certified under high-quality environmental standards to be expanded to 80 % by 2010. This target for 2010 has not been achieved, however.
  • In 2023, 79.4 % of forests were managed under PEFC and 14.6 % under FSC.

Environmental importance

Sustainable forestry with certified forest areas is important for the environment. About one third of Germany’s surface area is covered with forests. The majority of these forests are used for forestry. In the past, forest management mainly concentrated on high timber production. This resulted in planting vast monocultures of fast-growing species which are susceptible to storms, droughts and attacks by pathogens. Soils are degraded by monocultures and the use of heavy machines. Biodiversity in these forests is generally lower than in semi-natural forests.

The most important sustainability standards under which forestry companies can be certified are PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). The enterprises have to meet environmental, economic and social criteria, some of which are above the legal requirements specified in the forest and nature conservation laws. FSC often involves stricter guidelines than PEFC.


Assessing the development

Over the last years the development of PEFC forests has stagnated at a high level. From 2006 to 2019, the value was slightly below 70 % but increased substantially in 2020 and reached 79.4 % in 2023. The sharp increase is mainly a result from the linking of the forest premium of the federal government’s Corona economic stimulus programme to certification. The proportion of FSC certified areas has developed very positively over the last few years at a lower level. Responsible for this is the certification of extensive areas by the regional State Forestry departments in recent years, particularly in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse. In its coalition agreement, the German government has also agreed to manage federally owned forests at the very least according to FSC or Naturland standards in the medium term.

In the 2007 German National Biodiversity Strategy, the Federal Government set the target of increasing the proportion of areas certified according to ‘high-quality environmental standards’ to 80 % by 2010. In particular, the PEFC and FSC standards are being considered. The goal seems to have been achieved by 2020, due to the significant increase in the PEFC-certified area to more than 70 %. However, the exact value cannot be determined at present: A part of the forest areas, especially of the state forests, is certified under both systems. What is clear, however, is that policy makers should continue to promote sustainable forestry, even though it seems likely that the target has now been reached.



PEFC and FSC establish the extent of certified areas in the course of certification by forestry enterprises and publish these figures. The woodland area is used as a comparative figure. This is the area permanently designated for timber production. This area was determined during the 2nd and 3rd National Forest Inventories (BWI). To avoid jumps in the indicator value, the two values of the second and third BWI were interpolated linearly. General notes on the method for the BWI are given under the indicator ‘Mixed forest’.

More detailed information: 'Nachhaltige Waldwirtschaft' (in German only).