The State of Europe’s Forests 2011: cultural and spiritual value

How many woodland sites in Europe have deeper significance for citizens?

SummaryTree faces Sherwood Pines Bean An T-Visce (Woman of the Water). Sculpture by Alannah Robins 1995. Grizedale forest

People often attach cultural and spiritual significance to woods and forests, although these values are often intangible and difficult to define and assess. As part of a pan-European benchmarking exercise on sustainable forest management, Forest Research led work to report on the number of sites within wooded land that are officially recognised for their cultural or spiritual values.

Key findings

  • One million woodland sites reported from 45 European countries
  • Three-quarters of sites classed as cultural heritage (archaeological and historical sites and monuments)
  • Highest number of sites in Sweden – 600,000 sites of cultural heritage and 150,000 trees with cultural or spiritual significance
  • Around one quarter of cultural heritage sites are associated with historic forest management

Our involvement

The State of Europe’s Forests is a reporting and benchmarking exercise into sustainable forest management across Europe. It is funded by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and Forest Europe (the top-level political forum on forest protection in Europe).

When coordinating data collection and gathering for Indicator 6.11, Forest Rsearch's "social and economic research group" drew up a data collection protocol to ensure all submissions followed standard definitions, which were modified following consultation with cultural heritage experts to reflect important distinctions in types of sites and features. The team analysed submissions; its findings contributed to the full report.


Funders and partners

A joint enquiry run by Forest Europe, UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), with additional funding from the Forestry Commission


Ended 2011.


David Edwards