Indicator: Sustainable forestry

A graph shows the percentage of woodland certified under the PEFC or FSC sustainability standards from 2000 to 2016. In 2016 the PEFC covered 66.8 per cent and the FSC 10.5 per cent. 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 over the last few years.
  • The proportion of areas certified under FSC has developed very well since 2000 overall.
  • The Federal Government wanted the forested area in Germany certified under high-quality environmental standards to be expanded to 80 % by 2010.
  • This target has not been achieved. In 2016, 66.8 % of forests were managed under PEFC and 10.5 % under FSC.

Environmental importance

Around a third of the surface of Germany 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 of monocultures of fast-growing species which are more susceptible to being damaged by storms, drought and attack 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 few years the development of PEFC forests has stagnated at a high level. Since 2006 the value has fluctuated around 67 % with gradually declining values more recently. The proportion of FSC certified areas has developed very positively over the last few years at a low level. Responsible for this is the certification of extensive areas by the regional State Forestry departments in the recent years, particularly in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse.

In 2007 in the National Biodiversity Strategy, the Federal Government set itself the target of increasing the proportion of areas certified according to ‘high-quality environmental standards’ to 80 % by 2010 (BMU 2007). This is mainly based on the PEFC and FSC standards. However, it cannot currently be ascertained how far away the forestry is from this target, as some woodland areas are certified under both systems. However, what is clear is that it may take time to reach this target. The Federal Government therefore needs to promote sustainable forestry more vigorously.



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).