Polish forests

Poland takes the leading position in Europe as far as the forest area is concerned. The forests overgrow 9.1 million hectares which is 29.4% of the territory of Poland. The vast majority of this area are forests owned by the state, out of which almost 7.6 million hectares are under the State Forests Holding management.
04.01.2017

Poland takes the leading position in Europe as far as the forest area is concerned. The forests overgrow 9.1 million hectares which is 29.4% of the territory of Poland. The vast majority of this area are forests owned by the state, out of which almost 7.6 million hectares are under the State Forests Holding management.

There are more and more forests in Poland. The forest cover increased from 21% in the year 1945 to 29.4% at present. From 1995 to 2014 the forest area enlarged by 504 thousand hectares. The basis for the afforestation works in Poland is the National Programme for the Augmentation of Forest Cover with the assumption to increase the forest cover up to 30% in 2020 and up to 33% in 2050. Poland’s forests are rich in flora, fauna and fungi; 65% of species occurring in Poland live there.

The forests in our country grow on the poorest soils, mostly as a result of developing farming in the previous centuries. This affects also the spatial distribution of forest site types in Poland. Coniferous forests occur in more than 55% of the total forest area. The remaining part is taken by the broadleaved, mostly mixed. The small part is occupied by alder and riparian sites – a little more than 3%.

In the lowland and upland areas the most frequent species is pine. It overgrows 64.3% of the forests area in the State Forests Holding and 57.7 % of private and commune-owned forests. In the mountains spruce is predominant (western part) and spruce with beech (eastern part). The domination of pine in the forest stands is the result of the past forest management practice. Previously, the monoculture (one-species cultivation) was the forestry’s answer to the expanding industrial needs for timber. Such forests, however, were less resistant to climatic factors and were falling victim to pests more easily.

In Polish forests, the share of other (mostly broadleaved) tree species grows systematically. The foresters do not practice monoculture any more, instead they adjust the species composition of stands to that occurring naturally in a particular area. Therefore the area of broadleaved stands in the State Forests increased from 13% to more than 28.2% in the years 1945-2014. The more plentiful tree species are oak, ash, maple, sycamore, elm but also birch, beech, alder, poplar, hornbeam, aspen, linden and willow.

The forest stands aged from 40 to 80 years occur most frequently in Poland, and the average age of forest stands is 60. There are more and more big 80-year-old trees. Their area has increased from 0.9 million hectares to almost 1.85 million hectares since the end of the World War II.