The workforce employed by the pan-European forest sector decreased by 7 % between 2010 and 2020. Between 2017 and 2019, the economic activities of forestry and logging, manufacture of wood and paper products, manufacture of furniture and printing provided jobs for 5 million persons in 36 European countries. The average age of this workforce is between 40 and 59 years. However, a significant number of workers aged 50+ will leave the forest sector workforce within the next 10-15 years.
A recent report and policy brief by FOREST EUROPE and the Thünen-Institute of Forestry entitled “Green Forest Jobs in the pan-European region” presents evidence that this aging forest sector workforce is not being replaced by young workers. Although female participation in the labour market has increased over the past 15 years, only 21% of the forest sector workforce was female in 2019. These facts call for urgent action to avoid labour shortages and alleviate the gender imbalance in the pan-European forest sector.
But why is the forest sector employing less and being unattractive to young and female workers? One major reason is mechanization and automation at forestry and wood industry. A second reason is the often dangerous and physically demanding work in difficult terrain and harsh climate conditions. Improvements on OSH (Occupational Safety and Health), the emergence of forest certifications and the adoption of the SFM (Sustainable Forest Management) by FOREST EUROPE signatories and observers’ countries have enhanced job quality for several forestry and wood industrial workers. But much more can be achieved to improve the quality of Green Forest Jobs.
In addition, there are new jobs emerging beyond this traditional forest sector. The report and policy brief by FOREST EUROPE and Thünen-Institute of Forestry introduces the new forest-based sector and draws attention to the emerging jobs. The new forest-related sector provides opportunities to increase employment in rural areas and to stimulate the creation of quality Green Forest Jobs.
What are Green Forest Jobs exactly? Learn more about it here.