Forest ownership globally
- Oceania (76%)
- Europe (incl. Russia) (90%)
- Asia (95%)
- Africa (98%)
- North and Central America (70%) and
- South America (82%).
Within regions too, high proportions of forests and forests lands are publicly owned. In Russia, 100% of forests are publicly owned, with public ownership dominating in the Confederation of Independent States (CIS) and several other former Communist countries.
While all forests play a key role in providing ecosystem services, contributing to the global sustainable development objective and combating climate change, it is generally accepted that private forests provide proportionally more market commodities than their publicly-owned and managed counterparts.
They usually have a strong attachment to the land and a commitment to the continued and sustainable management of their forests and provide the raw materials to the forest industry sector, which in Europe is estimated to contribute about 9% of European GDP.
While many family forest owners also rely on their forest holdings to supplement their livelihoods and family incomes, the financial benefits accruing to small family forest owners are relatively minor, given the relative small size of their forest-land holdings.
All these features increase the imperative for demonstrating, through a process of certification, that their forests are being managed with respect for the highest ecological, economic and social standards.
Around two-thirds of the UK's woodland resource is privately owned – by individuals, family trusts, charitable trusts or companies. It is estimated that there are about 40 000 private woodland owners who own areas greater than 5 hectares.
Typically, woodlands owned by private and family interests are a part of mixed estates or are on farms. There are many thousands of small farm woodlands, but very few owners with more than 1000 hectares of woodland. Management of woodlands for game is an important objective on many estates with woodland and on some farms. Typically timber production is considered important in the larger family estates and company owned forests. An increasing number of woods are managed specifically for recreational and conservation purposes by charitable trusts and private owners.
The remaining one-third of woodlands is owned publicly, the bulk of it managed by the Forestry Commission (FC) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland (DARD). In the main, these are 'new' forests established in the 20th century in areas of low agricultural value, particularly in the uplands, using mainly conifer species. Some woodlands are owned and managed by other public agencies, including local authorities.
The text in this article was reproduced with the kind permission of --The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification 13:54, 24 October 2012 (BST)