Protected areas are one of the oldest instruments for protecting
nature and natural resources, and are included as a main
pillar in nature conservation laws across Europe. Explicitly designated
protected areas focus mainly on conserving biological
diversity, landscapes, natural monuments and protective functions
The MCPFE Assessment Guidelines for Protected and Protective
Forest and Other Wooded Land in Europe were created in 2001–
2003 especially for European conditions where protected forests
areas are often small, most of which are located in fragmented
landscapes with other land use categories and are protected
with various management options and regimes. The MCPFE
classes for biodiversity are no active intervention, minimum intervention,
and conservation through active management.
Total forest area protected (size of the pie) and the share of the protected area by MCPFE Classes 1.1–1.3 (1.1 no active intervention,
1.2 minimum intervention, 1.3 conservation through active management) for biodiversity by countries in Europe (1,000 hectares and
percent), 201012. Germany and Spain: included Natura 2000 forest areas in the MCPFE class 1.3.
Over the last 10 years, Europe’s forest area designated for biodiversity
and landscape protection has increased by half a million
hectares annually. About 10 percent of European forests are protected
with the main objective of conserving biodiversity.
The strictness of protection for biodiversity varies considerably
within Europe: in North Europe and in some Eastern European
countries, restrictive protection with no or minimal intervention
dominates, whereas in Central and Southern European countries,
active management in protected areas is emphasized. This
shows the different policies applied across Europe due to natural
conditions, traditions and population density.
Strict forest protection is emphasised in Finland. Under various
protection programmes and decisions, the area of protected
forests has been tripled over the past 35 years.The largest areas
with no active intervention of the total area of forests protected
for biodiversity in Europe are located in Finland – nearly
half (841 000 ha) of the area.