Danish forests comprise state-owned forests, managed by the Nature Agency's local units, as well as many privately owned forests and woodlands. There is more about the Danish forests below.

Facts on the Danish forests

There are officially 640,835 ha of forest in Denmark, corresponding to 14,9% of the land area. The forests are unevenly spread, with much forest along the high ridge of Jutland, in northern Zealand and on Bornholm. There is a lot of smaller forestland near large towns and cities.

  • Total area of Denmark (4,239,400 ha.)
  • Total area of forest (640,835 ha.)
  • Total area of state-owned forest (115,000 ha.)

Norway spruce grow on 19% of the forest area and it is the most common tree species in Denmark

Forest area

Conifers have been very successful in Denmark because they are hardy and thrive on heath and dune areas, and because they grow quickly and therefore they have been more profitable for forest owners than deciduous trees. This is one reason why there are most conifers in Jutland.

  • 35% conifers
  • 44% broadleaves
  • 11% mixed forest

Most species of deciduous tree, such as oak and beech, are indigenous to Denmark, while conifers have been imported over the past 200-300 years. For example, the most common tree species in Denmark is the Norway spruce, imported from other European countries like Sweden and Germany, while other species such as Sitka spruce and Douglas fir have been imported from North America.

Regional differences

The distribution of forestland in Denmark varies from region to region. More than 17% of the Capital Region, which includes northern Zealand and Bornholm, is forest, while just 11.2% of the Region of Southern Denmark is forest.

In comparison with the EU as a whole, Denmark is very poor in forestland. The total area of forest in the EU is about 1 bn. ha (2011), or what corresponds to around 25% of the world's total forestland.

The history of Danish forests

Most of Denmark was originally covered by forest, but after centuries of uncontrolled felling and clearance for agriculture, just 2-3% of Denmark was covered by forest around 1800.

Since adoption of the Danish Forest Act in 1805, forest clearance has been banned in Denmark, and at the same time great efforts were initiated to plant more forests. The overall area of Danish forests has therefore increased significantly, and it is still increasing. Forestland is being planted throughout Denmark, in particular on moorland and sand-dunes in mid and west Jutland.

Read about how Danish forests are managed and developed (in Danish)

More trees in forests

Denmark uses far more wood than it produces. Each year around 4.3 million m3 are felled, but despite this the amount of timber in Danish forests is growing by an annual net 2.4 million m3.

Forest per inhabitant

There is approx. 0.1 ha of forest for every inhabitant in Denmark, corresponding to the area of a large suburban garden. In Europe overall each inhabitant has about 1.97 ha. of forest.

Green management

The Nature Agency operates forests in accordance with close-to-nature principles and keeps to a number of green precepts. You can read more about how we run the state-owned forests and the green precepts.

YouTube Video: Sustainable timber: Why?

Public procurement of sustainable timber

In 2013, the Danish government launched a new joint strategy for smart public procurement. An important element of this strategy is the decision that central government purchase sustainable timber. It reads:

"The government will ensure that government institutions only purchase verifiably sustainable timber and timber products, also in connection with use of timber in state construction projects.”

To achieve this goal, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Environment has issued a circular that stipulates the conditions for ensuring sustainable timber in public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts for the state.

Alongside with the circular, new and revised guidelines on public procurement of timber have also been developed. The guidelines serve as a practical tool for implementation of the commitments in the circular. Government-owned companies, municipalities and regions are not obliged to comply with the regulations in the circular; however, they are encouraged to follow them or similar procurement policies based on the guidelines.

Further information about the new rules and guidelines, the criteria for sustainable timber and for assessment of certification schemes as means of proof, as well the assessment results can be found in the Briefing note and Annexes set out below.

Briefing note

Annex 1

Annex 2 - under construction

Annex 3 - Revised version of briefing note of 27 June 2014 (errors in total scorings have been corrected)