The forest sector of the Iberian Peninsula is a strategic wealth from the environmental, economic and social point of view. As we consider the Iberian Peninsula as a unit within the EU, it has a total of 28.715.000 ha of forest surface, with 48% of that belonging to Portugal and Spain, thus leaving the Iberian Peninsula in 4th place after countries so important as Sweden, Finland and France.
The forest area cultivated in the Iberian Peninsula totals 8.852 million ha (15%), less than the forest countries, but well above the rest of the EU, from which are extracted 25,5 million of m3 per year.
The last INF, whose results were presented in 2013, reveals that the Eucalyptus became the first major forest occupation of the continent (27%); the Cork Oak ranks second (23%), the Maritime Pine (23%) went from first to third species and the Holm ranks fourth (13%). The remaining species occupy 14% of the forest area.
According to the ICNF, the Spanish forest area consists essentially of Maritime Pine (24.8%), Scots Pine (19.4%), European Beech (8.5%), Eucalyptus (8.1 %), Chestnut (2.9%) and Oak (2.6%).
In addition to the environmental component, the Portuguese forestry sector in 2003 also is of significant importance from an economic and social perspective, creating a combined GVA aggregate of approximately 3,100 million euros, representing about 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) of the national economy and representing approximately 10% of national exports.The Portuguese business structure in forest industry has some of the major European companies in the sector.
The Spanish contribution of the forestry sector to national GDP in 2008, not including the placing furniture industry, was 0.82%, which is below the European average. The wood and cork industry represent 41.24%, the paper industry is 41.06% and forestry and logging is 17.69%. (National Accounts of Spain, 2008). According to data published by CONFEMADERA business organization in 2008, the entire forest Spanish turnover is over 20 million, not counting the paper and pulp area representing more than 4,000 million.
Employment in the forestry sector is characterized by high seasonality of work and a shortage of skilled labor.
The Portuguese forest sector represents about 113 thousand direct jobs or 2% of the national workforce.
While in 2008, the number of Spanish companies that were part of this sector totaled 36.781 creating direct jobs to 312.300 people, in 2011, these numbers decreased 30 to 20% respectively.
The forest sector includes various work areas, such as, forestry developed by loggers, the pelleting industry, the industry of sawmills, the pulp industry, industry pellets and mdf`s and finally the collecting of biomass for energy production.
The forest sector has a growth potential based on the development of bioenergy and differentiated consumption of forest products in the Iberian Peninsula when compared with other countries. Furthermore, afforestation performed in the past 50 years allows, in the future, an increase in timber production.